Maybe It’s the Sweaters; Cliff Huxtable is the TV Dad Americans Would Have Wanted Growing Up

NEW YORK , N.Y. – June 13, 2011 – The dilemma exists each year – how to treat dad on the day honoring fathers? Maybe it’s a new tie, something for his golf game or just letting him take a Sunday afternoon for himself to do whatever he wants, even if it’s just sitting on the couch and watching a baseball game. For America’s Favorite Television Dad, the best gift might be a new sweater. As in 2009, the television father Americans would have liked to have had when they were growing up is Bill Cosby’s Cliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show. Rounding out the top three favorite television dads are two classic 1950 ones – Ward Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best’s Jim Anderson as number two and number three respectively, unchanged from 2009.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011.

Classic television dads also take hold for much of the rest of the top ten. Acting as a dad to not only Richie, Joanie and Chuck but also The Fonz, Potsie and Ralph is Howard Cunningham on Happy Days at number four while Opie’s dad, Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show is number 5. There is a story of a man named Mike Brady who ran The Brady Bunch and is number 6 on the list while Ozzie Nelson of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet is number 7. Half-Pint’s Pa, Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prarie is number 8, the tool man, Tim Taylor of Home Improvement is number 9 and Bonanza’s Ben Cartwright is number 10.

If we look at the next five television dads on the list, there is a mix of TV decades. At number 11 is Danny Tanner who had Uncle Jesse and Joey to help take care of D.J., Stephanie and Michelle on Full House. Next is a new addition to the list this year and it’s a cartoon dad Family Guy’s Peter Griffin followed by My Three Sons’ Steve Douglas. Rounding out the top fifteen TV dads is another new addition Roseanne’s husband, Dan Connor and then Meathead’s father-in-law, Archie Bunker of All in the Family.

With two new additions to the list since 2009, two fathers have dropped off. A cartoon dad has replaced another as The Simpson’s Homer Simpson, who was tied for number 14, has dropped out of the top 15. The list also lost a shoe salesman with the departure of Al Bundy of Married with Children this year who had been tied for number 14.

So What?

It’s interesting to note that of the top 15 television dads Americans would have wanted growing up, only one is currently on TV and he’s a cartoon character. And, even though the show has been off the air for almost 20 years, Cliff Huxtable is a top dad for almost all age groups. What most of these television fathers represent is the ability to deal with a problem in 30 minutes. And, 13 of the 15 did it on a sitcom so along with the love was a healthy dose of laughter as well. Americans love their own dads, but these dads make it look easy and fun.

 

TABLE 1

FAVORITE TV DAD

Thinking of television fathers, who would you most like to have had as a dad when you were growing up?

Unprompted responses

Base: All adults

2009

2011

Cliff Huxtable The Cosby Show

1

1

Ward Cleaver Leave it to Beaver

2

2

Jim Anderson Father Knows Best

3

3

Howard Cunningham Happy Days

7

4

Andy Taylor The Andy Griffith Show

4

5

Mike Brady The Brady Bunch

6

6

Ozzie Nelson The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

5

7

Charles Ingalls Little House on the Prairie

8

8

Tim Taylor Home Improvement

10

9

Ben Cartwright Bonanza

9

10

Danny Tanner Full House

11

11

Peter Griffin Family Guy

12

Steve Douglas My Three Sons

13

13

Dan Connor Roseanne

14

Archie Bunker All in the Family

12

15

Fell off the list in 2011:

Homer Simpson (The Simpsons) and Al Bundy (Married with Children) were tied at 14 in 2009

 

TABLE 2

TOP TWO FAVORITE DADS AMONG DIFFERENT GROUPS

Group

Top Two Favorite TV Dads

Men

Cliff Huxtable, Howard Cunningham

Women

Cliff Huxtable, Jim Anderson

White

Cliff Huxtable, Ward Cleaver

African American

Cliff Huxtable, Jim Anderson

Hispanic

Cliff Huxtable, Jim Anderson

Echo Boomers (18-34)

Cliff Huxtable, Danny Tanner

Gen X (35-46)

Cliff Huxtable, Howard Cunningham

Baby Boomers (47-65)

Cliff Huxtable, Jim Anderson

Matures (66+)

Jim Anderson, Cliff Huxtable

Republicans

Cliff Huxtable, Ward Cleaver

Democrats

Cliff Huxtable, Ward Cleaver

Independents

Cliff Huxtable, Jim Anderson

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

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The Harris Poll® #71, June 13, 2011

By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research