#136: Just In From geekWORLD

136.1  At this website: wiseGEEK/cousins you will find an explanation of what numbered cousins and cousins removed are. Honestly, I don’t think much of this explanation, and stated my reasons here: Related How Again? #24. As with many such sites, you may post comments…and they have for the most part been questions concerning kinship…and many of them, can we legally get married?

136.2  At first I took it upon myself to address each question, with an explanation and a chart, here at this blog. There was (and is) no way to alert the original commenters of this, since wiseGEEK does not allow you to post links in your comments. At some point, I began posting answers there…altho I still believe a chart or diagram is an enormous help in hashing these things out. Four more questions have appeared since I last checked…and we’ll do those today.

136.3  And the last question we’ll look at was in fact the 2nd of the 4 latest ones. I’m leaving it for last because it is the most complicated…but it was also the first question so far that addressed ME by name…and I am gratified that someone cares, you know?…warm fuzzy feeling...

chart 472

136.4  Now reading over this question and checking Chart 472, I realize I made the assumption that the “her” to which you refer is your girlfriend…she might very well be your parole officer, how do I know? At any rate, on the left side I’ve called her father Zeke…and Zeke is your father’s nephew, so Zeke is also your 1st cousin, making “her” your 1st cousin once removed.That’s the “genealogical way” to say it, but since many people don’t understand what that means, the everyday equivalent would be: she is the daughter of your 1st cousin.

136.5  But bearing in mind that the man she calls “Uncle” might be the husband of her biological aunt, thus no blood relation to her, I sketched out the diagram on the right side. The answer’s still the same, altho Zeke is now your cousin thru your mother, where before it was thru your father. And the most any state prohibits for marriage is 1st cousin…1C1R is more distant than that, so you’re in the clear…if it comes to that.

chart 473

136.6  Next…I have noticed that if you don’t know what “removed” means, you’re likely to think that when kinship connections go back several generations, there must be a removed in there somewhere. But that isn’t always the case…and it’s not the case here…no removeds needed. “[His] father’s mother and my dad are 1st cousins”…as you can see in Chart 473…that sets up a basic Cousin Ladder…and down the ladder you climb to 3rd cousins for your son and his friend.

136.7   And if anyone asks, you’ll be ready to tell them that you and your son’s friend are 2nd cousins once removed, owing to the fact that you and the friend’s father are 2nd cousins…nez pah?

chart 474

136.8   Can’t figure it out why? Because you simply don’t know where to start. The best place to start is with the oldest person involved, which is your grandma. Who is her nephew? It’s her sibling’s son…in Chart 474 I have made that sibling her brother. Put yourself in your father’s place and things should start to clear up…his mother’s brother son is his 1st cousin, correct? Going down to the next generation, your father’s child is you…your father’s 1st cousin’s child is your husband…so you and your husband are 2nd cousins. Such matches were much more common a few generations ago…but are still legal in practically every corner of the world, including all 50 states….lovely!


136.9  Finally, this one…and I must say I had a lot of fun answering it…mostly because this is an area of kinship I’ve had to work hard at understanding. My entire answer is reprinted below…but the important point is what I call “interbreeding”…when husband and wife are related to each other. Now it’s believed that everyone alive today is no more distant than 50th cousin to everyone else…so in this sense, it’s all interbreeding. But when I say “related to each other,” I am really considering only those ties that you can reasonably expect to establish genealogically. It’s a rare pedigree that can be determined back further than say the 1600s. Reliable record keeping either didn’t exist or has been long lost. And in many cases, what we do have is open to interpretation…and, inevitably, guesswork. And as interesting as kinship connections can be, actual genetic relationship drops to virtually nothing somewhere between 4th and 5th cousins.

136.10  This is a fascinating question but also a tricky one, so I’ll try to explain it as best I can.

First off, your description of your family contains one mistake: you say Walter and Betty are fourth cousins, but if you count down, you will find they are actually third cousins.

As to whether your mother is your fifth cousin once removed, you can say that if you like. It will also mean that your mother is fifth cousin to herself, since as your mother’s fifth cousin once removed, you are the child of her fifth cousin, her fifth cousin in this case being herself. For that matter, you are your own sixth cousin.

chart 475

Here’s the problem with that sort of reasoning: our assignment of kinship terms is based on genetic inheritance, that is, genes passed along from ancestors to descendants. In the relationships I just described involving your mother and you, there is no additional genetic sharing, over and above the mother/child relationship. I mean, how could you be more related to yourself if you were your own sixth cousin than if you weren’t?

Here’s the key: The only way you can be related to your mother, over and above parent/child, is if your parents are related to each other. In such a case, since she is your mother, you automatically have half of the genes she has, because she passed them to you. You would also share additional genes with her, not because she passed them to you, but because you got them from your father, and your father shares them with your mother, since they are related.

Now if your mother really were your fifth cousin once removed, you’d share 1/4096 of your genes with her, over and above the half you share as mother and daughter. But where did those “extra” genes come from? All the genes you got from her are already accounted for in the one half. See how it works?

cdfhart 476

How about your mother’s sister, I’ll call her Aunt Martha? Mary and Martha’s mother is Ann, and since Ann didn’t marry somebody related to her, her children are only related to her, and to each other, by the normal half. Now going back another generation, say Ann’s sister is Alice. Ann and Alice are both siblings and double fourth cousins, since their parents are third cousins to each other. Thus your mother and you, as descendants of Ann, have an “extra” relationship with the descendants of Alice, owing to the fact that Ann and Alice have an “extra” relationship.

The bottom line is this: when you have interbreeding like this, some of the lines of descent that you can count back to common ancestors do not result in any additional genetic sharing, like the lines that make you appear to be your own sixth cousin. Whether you should assign kinship names to these relationships is your choice. But since they do not result in any additional genetic relationship, they are generally ignored.

136.11  In general, you can determine how closely 2 people are related by tracing back all the lines to common ancestors. But as Chart 475b shows, counting all the lines, when close interbreeding is involved, gives you an “overage”…here, the 1/4096 you’d normally have to a 5th cousin once removed simply doesn’t exist when that’s also your mother.

136.12  The real difference between this situation and a “typical” one is that you do have a double relationship to John and Nancy…what’s sometimes called “double grandparents”…your chances of getting a gene from John (or from Nancy) is doubled because it could come thru Walter or thru Betty. Of course, ALL of it comes from your mother Mary, thru her mother Ann, but both of them have a “double dose” of John’s genes and of Nancy’s. Back in 7…

wicked ballsy

lincoln redux

This goes back to the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and both George Clooney and Tom Hanks, discussed here: Related How Again? #130. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy…but a very common mistake…neither George nor Tom goes back to Lincoln via a chain of parent/child links…so neither is a “descendant,” which is the same thing really as a “direct descendant.” Trouble is, we really don’t have a word for what they are, except to say that, for example, George and Abe are descended from the same person. Best we can do is: They are related. 

And I must say that for once Ancestry.com says it exactly right: you have to be a member to get the 14-day free trial…and that’s because you have to give them your credit card info to get this “free” thing. Once they have that, they have you, in theory, for life. Normally, you would be able to sample something before you had to decide to commit to it…but the truth is, you have to commit (with CC info) to ancestry.com before you are allowed to sample it. That’s not right of course, and it irks many people indeed, especially those “samplers” who find to their dismay how extremely difficult it is to get out, when they didn’t realize they were in yet in the first place. But recall the wise words of Mark Twain: It’s easier to stay out than to get out…


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


#135: Booney Toons Pt. 2

135.1  Where we left off last week…we were considering one Randy Boone, teen heartthrob randyof the 1960s, who played the guitar-strumming Randy Benton on “The Virginian”…then the eager young newspaper reporter Francis Wilde on “Cimarron Strip.” And sure, it’s always fun to bash Uncle Wiki, but gol’darn it, they deserve it…main trouble is, the right hand never knows what the left hand is doing.

135.2  Now in this particular case, after stating that Pat Boone claims descent from Daniel Boone (this is on the Pat Boone page), they go on to blithely point out that he is a “cousin” to both Richard “Paladin” Boone and Randy Boone. Go to the Randy Boone page looking for confirmation, and all you find is that Randy is a “cousin” of Debby Boone, whom at this point I can 100% guarantee is Pat’s daughter…I think. Check the web in general, and it’s a split decision: Pat is either Randy’s uncle or his cousin. And for the record, the Richard Boone Wiki page says he is not related to Pat, Randy, or Debby…altho they grant that such is “rumored throughout the industry.”  Hmmmph.

135.3  OK…we saw last week that Pat is very likely not related to Daniel or to Richard…but before going any further, you might be wondering if you can be a cousin both to a man and his daughter…and the answer is a resounding YES! Thank you, sexual reproduction…2 sides to every family, a mother’s and a father’s…thus…


135.4   I must stress that Chart 469 is flat out NOT the case…just an example of how it could be done. Here Debby and Randy are 1st cousins since their mothers X and Y are sisters. Likewise, Pat and Randy are 1st cousins since their fathers A and B are brothers. All that was needed was for Pat’s Uncle B to marry Pat’s sister-in-law Y…or if it happened the other way around, for Uncle B‘s sister-in-law X to marry his nephew Pat. Done and done…and note that besides being 1st cousins, Debby and Randy would also be 1st cousins once removed, owing to Randy and Pat being 1st cousins.

135.5  And of course this is all perfectly above board…after all, if someone from family P marries somebody from family Q, does that mean there can be no further P/Q matches for the rest of eternity? Kind of like first come, first served? Absurd…of course not. But with today’s hypersensitive “incest” mentality, aye chihuahua…the poster-child being Kyra Sedgwick, who had a conniption when she discovered her husband Kevin Bacon was her 10th cousin once removed….when the genetic relationship between 4th cousins is negligible…for all practical purposes, nonexistent.

135.6  And I chalk this hypersensitivity up to nothing less than sheer ignorance, pure and simple. Just one example: an article about the Sedgwick/Bacon outrage duly noted that 1st cousin marriages were not that unusual just a few generations ago…which is true…and that even in the US today it’s legal in a “handful” of states. Well, more than a handful, I’d say…I count 23, which is almost half…5 states with restrictions, 18 more free and clear.

135.7  Getting back to Pat, Debby, and Randy…last week I mentioned a 2008 newspaper article with Pat’s sister-in-law Trish (here), his younger brother Nick’s wife. One thing she talks about is how she and Nick are the only ones to perpetuate the Boone name in their line at least…and she explains it, as per my Chart 470. I have verified all this with census records…no offense, but that’s what you have to do.


135.8  Pat and Nick have 2 sisters but no other brothers…so for Randy to be a Boone 1st cousin to Debby, he’d have to be one of Nick’s sons. Trouble is, Randy was born just 7 years after Nick, so that’s out. Could he be Debby’s 2nd cousin, the son of Pat and Nick’s 1st cousin? Nope, their dad Archie Altman Boone was an only child. OK, 3rd cousin, son of Pat and Nick’s 2nd cousin, descended from one of their great grandfather E.E.’s siblings? Again, no dice…E.E.’s 2 brothers each had a single daughter…and his sister had just one boy, who wouldn’t been a Boone. (Odd coincidence…E. E. and his older sister “Bertie” both died in 1962…she on March 27, he 2 days later.)

135.9  Yeah, it’s easy to say, oh sure they’re cousins. But when you look at the facts…doesn’t fit. Maybe 4th, 5th, 6th cousins, but you do the work! What I did do then was sketch out Richard Boone, back to Daniel Boone’s brother George, and compare that with as far as census records could take me with Randy’s family…Chart 471. I’d say that in general finding Richard’s people was easier because he’s more famous…and it’s always fun to find 1st cousins who marry each other, in this case 2G grandparents Nestor and Matilda…just to freak out the folks I referenced in 135.5-6.


135.10   Still, I thought I was stuck on Randy’s grandfather W.C. Boone…to go back from him, what did the initials stand for? Wilson was an obvious guess but lead nowhere.Thankfully, an obituary of Randy’s grandmother Addie provided the answer: Walter Clyde…but alas, the trail went cold after his father, Willard W. But turns out it hardly matters…Willard and W.C. were from Georgia, while Addie, her 7 children, and Randy, along with his mysterious brother “Dickie” were all born and bred in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

135.11  Richard Boone…as he tells it in a 1959 newspaper interview…is a 4th generation Californian, going back to his great grandfather Peter Tribble Boone. His grandfather…after whom he was named, altho the grandfather was known by his middle name, Bower Boone…was a wealthy importer in San Francisco, with a passion for gambling, and a habit of wearing a fancy silk shirt once, then disposing of it. So between California, North Carolina, and Georgia, and without knowing anything else, Richard and Randy could at best be something around 5th or 6th cousins…again, if you must  know, please knock yourself out.

135.12  And just to show you how nutsy the internet can get, not that anyone would need more evidence…one lone website, crying out in the wilderness, claims that Randy Boone’s mother Rhumel Boone (maiden name undetermined by me) is actually Richard Boone’s sister and the daughter of Kirk Boone. According to them, she married a man named Clyde Wilson Randall Sr., altho at the same time her son is still Randy Boone, not Randy Randall. Hilarious, except if that’s the only site you consult, then you’ve got it completely wrong, right?

135.13  One cool thing I did come across was the suggestion that country singer Loretta Lynn, born Loretta Webb, and Richard Boone were related…turns out they are, Chart 472can you call it? If you said 7th cousins once removed, gold star for you. Also put forth was the proposition that Loretta Lynn and singer Patty Loveless are related, thru Loretta’s mother’s family, Ramey, which is Patty’s maiden name. I got a ways with that but nothing conclusive to report…a project for another rainy day.


135.14  Finally, Loretta Lynn’s relation to Ole Dan’l? Looking at Chart 472, Daniel Boone was the son of Squire and thus the brother of George V, making him 1st cousin to Loretta’s 5G grandfather George Webb, so that’s 1st cousin 7 times removed. Real questions and definitive answers from the Geek world next week…ciao 4 now…

wicked ballsy


But before we go, a little something from the Everything You Know Is Wrong file. Daniel Boone did not wear a coonskin cap…in fact, he didn’t like them. Like most frontiersmen…or long hunters as they were called, not because of their long rifles but because they’d be gone exploring and shooting for weeks and months at a time…he wore a wide-brimmed felt or beaver-skin hat. It made more sense, fending off sun and rain, you see. The screen capture above, bottom right, shows the style, taken from a “Daniel Boone” episode from the 6th and final season. But on the left, you see a Little Golden Book from 1956 that did get it more or less right.


Coonskin caps, something the White Man picked up from the Indians, were more for warmth during colder weather…typically they included the raccoon’s face on the front. In fact, the cap itself was nothing more than a hollowed out raccoon carcass…the tail on the back wasn’t tacked on for decoration but was an integral part of it, as could be the hind legs, as seen above, protecting the back of the neck. Some critter caps even left the front legs dangling down too. And now you know…


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#134: Whoose Boone Are Yoo?

134.1  Dear Stolf: Didn’t Pat Boone once say he was descended from Daniel Boone? And is he? …from Speedy Gonzales…in Mocha, Yemen

134.2  Dear Speedy: I’m pretty sure that yes he did and no he isn’t. BTW, for those of you who think the world is all cheat, scam, and bluff…Mocha really is a town in Yemen. It’s said that in olden times the coffee beans grown there had a unique taste that could be approximated by adding chocolate to coffee, once chocolate was discovered in the New World, yielding what I guess you’d call mock Mocha. Thus our current day “mocha”…bearing in mind, alas, that coffee beans from that area no longer have such a…how do they put it?…note.

pat and dan

134.3  As to Charles Eugene “Pat” Boone, I feel no great need to verify that he actually made such a claim, since it’s an interesting possibility regardless. Uncle Wiki says he did, in a 2007 interview on “The 700 Club,” when he called himself a 4G grandson to Boone, the doer, the dream-come-a-truer. However, I can definitely confirm that a year later, the family genealogist, his sister-in-law Trish, wife of younger brother Cecil Altman “Nick” Boone, said in an article in the North Carolina High Country Press that she could find no such link, try as she might.

134.4  And there is even a purported pedigree, whether proffered by Pat himself or his apologists I could not determine…altho I have determined to my satisfaction that it is wrong. But before delving into specifics, I should mention that there are a ton of North American Boones, going back to the earliest days of European settlement. There is also a fairly extensive Boone DNA project, and the websites I’ve sampled suggest dozens of non-interrelated lines…well, not related here…wouldn’t surpise me to learn they are connected in the Old Country…10th cousins, 12th cousins, in that ballpark.
chart 467.png

134.5  At any rate, on the left side of Chart 467 we see the alleged track back to Daniel Boone…Archie Altman Boone is indeed Pat and Nick’s pop (Nick had a brief recording career in the late 1950s as Nick Todd)…and the orange line shows the erroneous connection between him and his “father.” Lo and behold, our old bugaboo…different people with the same name…rears its ugly head…which Ernest Eugene Boone is the true grandfather? Census data confirms the track on the right side…and for various reasons, the closest we can then get to Daniel is likely his cousin John…even so, the link hasn’t been firmly established. And you can sense the problem when you notice a run of 3 ancestors…James, Bryant, and John…for whom the reported years of birth vary by 5, 10, and 10 years respectively. In fact, this is exactly where Trish Boone got stuck.

134.6  Thus it is nearly certain that Pat Boone is not descended from Daniel…at best he could be related…here it is 1st cousin 6 times removed… but for now there is simply no solid proof. The reason I’m hedging my bets is there are several other Ernest Eugene Boones floating around…of those, the one that best fits the time-line as Pat’s possible grandfather was born in Iowa around 1879 and in 1940 was living in Minnesota with his wife Evelyn and children Mary Olive, Eugene Jr. and Wiley. Compare that to the E.E. who married Edna Jones (left side of Chart 467) who was born in Idaho…and the E.E. on the right side, who was born in Tennessee but raised in Florida…Pat was born in Jacksonville and raised in Nashville. Trouble is, this E.E. is usually connected to one Blanche Clanton…sometimes she’s his wife, sometimes she’s his mother!

134.7  All of which leads to this question: Why are there this many geographically dispersed Ernest Eugene Boones, if the connection isn’t one of kinship? Simply coincidence? Possibly…and of interest is the fact that several extensive genealogies of the descendants of Daniel’s grandfather George Boone III do not record any Ernests or Eugenes born before 1800…the point being, widely dispersed and/or very distantly related people with the same name could be honoring a common ancestor way, way back…but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

134.8  But to pick on Uncle Wiki some more…they report Pat’s apparent claim that he thinks he’s directly related to Daniel WITHOUT looking into the validity of it…then in the very next sentence say Pat is a “cousin” of Richard Boone, of “Medic,” Paladin, and Hec Ramsey fame. A quick cross-check on their Richard Boone page says that his father Kirk is a descendant of Daniel Boone’s younger brother Squire. Well, putting 2 and 2 together, that would make Pat a relative, tho not a descendant, of Daniel.


134.9   Trouble is, the source they cite says only that Richard’s “father was a descendant of a brother of Daniel Boone”…doesn’t say which brother…he had from 4 to 9 brothers, depending on who you believe. And of course if your father is the descendant of someone, you are too!  (The opposite isn’t true…if you are a descendant of someone, your father might not be…not if it’s on your mother’s side, right?) I would have said he was a descendant of a brother of Daniel Boone on his father’s side…which is the same thing…their way just struck me as funny, is all.

134.10   Needless to say, Uncle Wiki guessed the brother and guessed wrong, as per Chart 468. One interesting sidelight, Richard’s 4G grandfather George Boone V wasn’t a son as Georges II, II, and IV were, but a nephew. But Richard Boone certainly is related to Daniel as a 4G grand nephew…thus he’s not related as any sort of cousin to Pat, at least not thru the Boones…could be thru somebody’s female line, but that wasn’t Uncle Wiki’s implication.

chart 468.png

134.11  You’ll notice several individuals marked in blue…all ballplayers, including one of only 4 father, son, grandson combos in the Bigs…the others being the Bells, the Colemans, and the Hairstons. And finally….yes!!!!…direct descendants of Daniel Boone, bony-fidy…and Ray is a 4th cousin twice removed to Ike and Dan…and 6th cousin to Richard. And that’s a good day’s work of researching, if I do say so myself.

Wicked Ballsy


Cripes! I promised myself I wasn’t gonna deal with this…but willpower weak, temptation strong, as they say. See, Uncle Wiki, in the same breath as Richard Boone, says that Pat Boone is also a “cousin” to Randy Boone, the young singing cowpoke on “The Virginian” for several years…later on “Cimarron Strip.” It goes without saying I have zero confidence that they’re right…but tellya what, we’ll look into it next week..

…and no, there wasn’t a Boone on the old “Rin Tin Tin” show…well, there was a cpl boonecharacter named Cpl. Randy Boone, third in command after Lt. Rip Masters and Sgt. Biff O’Hara…but he was played by Randy Brooks (right)…who you might recall was in “Gone With the Wind” as Scarlett’s first husband Charles Hamilton, Melanie Wilkes’ brother. He always claimed he gave Marilyn Monroe her first on-screen kiss in the 1948 movie “Ladies of the Chorus”…


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#133: Brady Nation

133.1  Dear Stolf: Wasn’t there an episode of “The Brady Bunch” where Carol’s grandmother married Mike’s grandfather? How did that mess up their family tree?  …from Phoebe B. in TVLand


133.2  Dear Phoebe: You remember rightly…episode 22 of the 4th season, entitled “You’re Never Too Old”…and in the finest sitcom tradition, Florence Henderson played her own grandmama and Robert Reed…well, you can see him in the picture above, doing his best Barnaby Jones impersonation.

133.3  Now to do up a Brady family tree right, you’d need to watch every episode of all 5 seasons…but you wouldn’t be done yet, because of the Saturday morning cartoon series, various spinoff series and specials, and even the 2 parody movies…which you might not think of as canonical, except for the fact that series creator Sherwood Schwartz produced them too…which is why the satire was so good-natured. But anyway, gleaning the web and other sources, here’s what I come up with…

chart 466

133.4 The elderly couple you asked about are at the top. The pilot episode, which aired as the first episode on 9/26/1969, contained the following information: Mike’s full name, Carol’s full name, including married and birth surnames, and her father’s name. Carol and the girls, with their orange cat Fluffy, were living with her parents before the wedding. Grandparents Joan Tompkins and J. Pat O’Malley were never seen again, nor was the feline.


133.5  A couple of notes on Chart 466…many years later, on the short-lived series “The Bradys” in 1990, Mike is sworn in as City Councilman as “Michael Thomas Brady”…oops. Aunt Jenny, who made one appearance played by Imogene Coca, is Carol’s aunt…one source, as yet unconfirmed, says she’s a Tyler. Then there’s annoying little Cousin Oliver who appeared in the final 6 shows of the 5th season…his parents were going away on a research dig and couldn’t take him along…their names are mentioned but they themselves are never seen. Note for New Englanders: Carol once mentions she grew up in Swampscott, Massachusetts…for no other reason than to demonstrate the trouble she had as a girl when she, as Cindy, had a lithp.

133.6  As to the mysterious first Mrs. Brady and absent Mr. Martin…when Sherwood Schwartz first came up with the idea for the series, and the first script in 1965, he envisioned Mike as a widower and Carol as a divorcee. There was little interest in the show until the Lucille Ball/Henry Fonda movie “Mine, Yours, and Ours” was a hit in 1968. Trouble was, ABC was not happy with the idea of a divorced women with kids…and for whatever reason, Schwartz was adamant. The compromise they came to was that Mike would indeed be a widower, but Carol’s status would remain unspecified. All we get in the pilot is when she says to her parents: “I don’t know what I would have done without you two these past few years” and then later to Mike: “A few years ago, I thought it was the end of the world.” So something happened to Mr. Martin, we just don’t know what…and that was the way it was intended.

133.7  Interestingly enough, the fuzzy status of Mr. Martin was on Schwartz’ mind around the time the 5th season rolled around…he said that he was seriously considering dumping the querulous Robert Reed and bringing back the long lost husband, but thought better of it…altho that idea was indeed used in the second movie, “A Very Brady Sequel,” with Tim Matheson impersonating Roy Martin. Odd coincidence: Matheson played one of the sons back in “Yours, Mine and Ours.”

133.8  As for the first Mrs. Brady, she is apparently only mentioned in the pilot episode, where Bobby puts her picture away in a dresser drawer, assuming his new mom wouldn’t want to see it, and Mike sets him straight on that point. The cool thing is, we actually see a picture of her…


…and using my best intuition, I have added it to a picture of Mildred Seidman, who was married to Sherwood Schwartz for 69 years. Can’t say it’s a definite match, but to my eye it’s not impossible. And after all, that’s the tricky way they do such things on TV, nez pah?

4 4

133.9  And speaking of how they do things on TV, the Aunt Jenny episode starts out with Jan finding a picture of “herself,” yet the clothes don’t look right. Turns out Aunt Jenny looked just like Jan when she was her age…and of course, on the show, they use a photo of Eve Plumb to be the young Jenny. Getting back to Mike…altho studio press releases always referred to him as a widower, I don’t believe that was ever specifically spelled out…wife is D-E-A-D…on the series itself, much as the scene with the photo implies it.


133.10  Finally, the frisky old folks…he is reluctant at first, she is too much for him it seems, but he succumbs and they trot off to Las Vegas to get hitched. Sadly, I haven’t seen this episode…are more genealogical details mentioned? Certainly Carol’s grandmother’s surname of Hutchins could be a married (re-married) name, in which case she could be either Carol’s maternal or paternal grandmother. But I’m assuming the simplest case, that Carol’s mother was a Hutchins…we never do learn her first name.

133.11  And how does this impact the family? OK, you could say that the woman who was Mike’s maternal grandmother-in-law is now also his paternal step-grandmother…and the other way around for Carol…but I think that would be reaching. Likewise, I suppose the kids now have, respectively, either a new step-great grandfather or step-great grandmother…but then that new step-great grandparent was their natural great grandparent in the first place, so that’s pretty much academic.

133.12   If you really want to get down to cases…here’s a topic that is hotly debated among fans…were the kids actually adopted, or did they remain step-‘s? Again, any definitive answer would require you to view the original 117 half-hour episodes…and that’s just for a start. The adoption of step-children is currently the most common form of adoption in this country…and in the past it was usually just one parent who brought children to the marriage, and the other parent who would formally adopt them. That’s what made the “yours and mine” situation so novel in the first place. Today such mixing and matching is taken for granted.

133.13  Laws vary from state to state, but in general an adopted child is considered legally equivalent to a natural, biological child…and the parent is automatically the child’s legal guardian as well. But if the “other” parent is still alive, they must consent to the adoption, in which case they lose all legal rights as a parent. Now you can be a child’s legal guardian without adopting them…and a child’s legal guardian is not strictly speaking their legal parent. As far as I can tell, the difference is that a non-custodial parent who is ruled unfit can still withhold permission for adoption, but cannot prevent legal guardianship…their unfitness to parent being the whole point of a legal guardianship in the first place. But without some sort of legal determination,  a step-parent has no standing with respect to their step-children…they are what’s called “legal strangers.”

133.14  Does the girls taking the last name Brady tell us anything?…presumably they were Martins up to that point. Well, a legal name change can be granted in the absence of anything else…adoption, legal guardianship, whatever. In fact, as long as no fraud is involved, such children can be renamed for all intents and purposes without  going thru a legal process…in which case, they may use their new name at home, at school, etc…altho it won’t be their actual name for strictly legal purposes, such as social security number.

133.15  Having said all that, the question remains: were the boys adopted by Carol and the girls by Mike? It seems reasonable, given the closeness of this blended bunch, that each parent would have at the very least gotten legal guardianship of their respective step-children. I am aware of only 2 instances when the matter is even touched upon…and it should be pointed out that after the first season, the plots stopped revolving around the trials and tribulations of being “mixed”…after that, they were simply “a family.”

133.16  In the first season episode, “Every Boy Does It Once,” Bobby feels unwanted and runs away from home. The capper is a famous quote from Carol…I haven’t seen the episode, and it’s given on the net in various different versions…but it’s along the lines of “The only steps in this house are the ones that lead up to your bedroom.” The implication being that under their roof Carol is to be considered the boys’ “real” mother, likewise for Mike and the girls.

133.17  Well and good…still doesn’t say anybody’s officially adopted. This issue comes up again in the 5th season episode “Kelly’s Kids”  a.k.a. “The Three Musketeers,” actually a pilot for another Sherwood Schwartz series that didn’t sell. Ken Berry and Brooke Bundy are the Kellys, who first adopt a boy…played by Todd Lookinland, Mike “Bobby” Lookinland’s little brother…then wind up adopting his 2 best friends from the orphanage as well. At the beginning of the show, they’re talking with Mike and Carol…

Ken says to Carol: Y’know, your kids were our inspiration.
   Brooke adds: After those talks with you and Mike.
   Carol responds: Oh, you’re gonna love being parents.

So here the emphasis is on being parents, not the legal niceties…altho the Kellys did tell the Bradys they were adopting, not taking the boy on as foster parents or something like that.


133.18  Later, the Kellys are telling the Bradys how they’re now adopting a trio, not a singleton…

Ken, gesturing to Carol & Mike: In a way, you adopted 3 boys and you adopted 3 girls… 
   Carol can only say: Yes, we did…

Now maybe the Bradys were just being polite in not responding,” Well, actually, it wasn’t in a way…we really did adopt them.” But it sounds to me, given the way Ken put it, like they really hadn’t  adopted them, and the Kellys knew they hadn’t from “those talks” they had. That’s my take on it anyway…and thanks for bringing it — wait, I have to go outside…the sunshine is calling my name….

wicked ballsy


Here are Sherwood Schwartz’ original choices for Mike, Carol, and Alice…on the right is a full-length screen-capture from an “Andy Griffith Show” episode…this when they were still the Bradleys, not yet the Bradys.  And just to show you can’t please everybody, here’s a quote I found on the net from a disgruntled viewer… This show was naive and inconsiderate to never mention these children’s birthmother/birthfather or even their birthgrandparents…this is how blended families were looked at back then…ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen. Um, sure, Ok, whatever…


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved