Did I Tell You The One About The Farmer’s Daughter: The Chemistry of Inger Stevens and William Windom

Photo: abebooks.coom

This blog takes a look at a show that is beginning to fade from viewers’ memories. The Farmer’s Daughter debuted in the fall of 1963, starring Inger Stevens as Katy Holstrum and William Windom as Glen Morley.

The show was based on the 1947 movie of the same name starring Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten in the lead roles.

Katy was a student who needed to earn some money and became a governess/housekeeper for Morley’s boys, Steve (Mickey Sholdar), age 14 and Danny (Rory O’Brien), age 8. Morley is a congressman. While Morley is sophisticated and refined, Katy is a no-nonsense type of girl from Minnesota. Morley’s mother Agatha (Cathleen Nesbitt) also lives with the family. The cast is rounded out by Philip Coolidge as Cooper, the family’s butler. In the early seasons, it is obvious that Glen and Katy are falling for each other, and many of the plots are one of them being jealous of the other. In the movie, Katy runs for Congress, but she is not as involved in politics in the television show.

Photo: worthpoint.com

Screen Gems produced the show which aired on ABC. The show was sponsored by Lark Cigarettes and Clairol. The two stars often promoted the products at the end of the episode. In season one, the show was on Friday nights against Burke’s Law on CBS and The Fight of the Week on NBC. Season two found the show opposite The Flintstones and The Addams Family. The show moved to Tuesday nights for season three against A Man Called Shenandoah and Ben Casey. The show was never in the top 25 but, it had respectable ratings. The critics liked the show, and it was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding comedy in 1964 but lost to Mary Tyler Moore for The Dick Van Dyke Show. It was also nominated for Emmys for writing, directing, and best actress. Stevens won the Golden Globe for best female tv star. TV Guide conducted a popularity poll, and she won the female performer of the year with David Janssen of The Fugitive, winning male performer.

At the end of season two, Katy and Glen become engaged. The third season brought full-color episodes. Early in the third season, they marry. After that ratings fell significantly, and the show was not renewed for a fourth season. In the finale, Katy adopts Danny and Steve. The chemistry between Glen and Katie and waiting to see if they got together or not kept viewers tuning in.  Once they married, viewers were not as invested.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

In 1957, Inger was signed to a seven-picture contract with Paramount. In 1959, she survived after swallowing an overdose of pills and she seemed to recover with a renewed zeal to work on her career and life situation.

Stevens became a favorite actress of many viewers after The Farmer’s Daughter. The cast and crew liked her very much and she was easy to work with. She never got upset when filming ran long or had complications. She and Windom often played practical jokes on each other to bring fun to the workplace. She recalled eating an onion sandwich one day right before they filmed a kissing scene.

After the show was cancelled, she was cast in the movie, A Guide for the Married Man in1967. She then starred in films with Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin, and Clint Eastwood. She appeared in the made-for-tv film, Run Simon Run with Burt Reynolds in 1970. After seeing the film, Aaron Spelling cast her in an upcoming series, Zig Zag to air in the fall. The show was about a trio who work on hard-to-solve murders. When the show went on the air in 1970, Yvette Mimieux had to take over Inger’s role.

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Unfortunately, the sunny disposition Stevens portrayed to the world hid a sad and tragic life and she committed suicide before the show aired. Her housekeeper found her in April; she was semi-conscious and died on the way to the hospital. The cause of death was determined to be acute barbiturate intoxication. The public was saddened and surprised to learn how unhappy she was.

In 2000, William Patterson published the book, The Farmer’s Daughter Remembered. He dove into her life and tried to determine whether she meant to commit suicide or not.

Photo: pinterest.com

Windom also starred in the series, My World and Welcome to It as cartoonist John Monroe and as Dr. Seth Hazzlett on Murder She Wrote in 1985. His first movie role was in To Kill a Mockingbird in 1962. In addition to other films and Broadway, he traveled performing one-man shows of both James Thurber and Ernie Pyle. He passed away of congestive heart failure in 2012 at 88.

Cathleen Nesbitt would continue appearing in television series until 1982 when she passed away at age 93. Although she had appeared in many films, The Farmer’s Daughter was the only series she was featured in regularly.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org
Cathleen Nesbitt

Mickey Sholdar only appeared in five other shows after The Farmer’s Daughter. His last acting appearance was in the movie Babe. I could not verify how he spent his life up to now.

Photo: sitcomsonline.com
Mickey Sholdar and Rory O’Brien

Rory O’Brien, like Sholdar, only appeared in a few shows after the series ended. He was also in one film afterward, Little Big Man. O’Brien left the acting profession in the early 1970s. I could not find any other information on him either.

Photo: famousfix.com
Phillip Coolidge

Philip Coolidge was in many acclaimed movies before he took the role on The Farmer’s Daughter. Like most of his cast mates, he only appeared in a few shows in the mid-1960s, and he passed away in 1967.

Photo: pinterest.com

The show was aired in syndication on CBN, but I cannot find any other channels that carried it, and I cannot find any evidence that it was ever released on DVD. It’s too bad because the show featured a couple with great chemistry and the quick pace of the story and well-written dialogue that made the show memorable will be lost if no one is able to see the show in the future.

8 thoughts on “Did I Tell You The One About The Farmer’s Daughter: The Chemistry of Inger Stevens and William Windom

  1. I never saw this show, and only know it from reading about Inger Stevens. I remember her in “Run, Simon, Run,” then reading about her suicide not long after. She was also in a good “Twilight Zone” episode. She was beautiful and intriguing, similar to Tippi Hedren. And William Windom has to be one of the greatest character actors in history.

    What is “CBN”? Sounds like this show might do well in reruns on MeTV.


    • I have seen a few shows. I don’t know if CBN is still around or was absorbed by something else. When I was in high school it started. After TBS and WGN it was one of the early cable channels. It stood for Christian Broadcast Network and the majority of the shows were classic sitcoms a lot like Nick at Nite.

      There was one show no one but me can remember which is creepy. It was on from like midnight till 2 am and the host talked about and showed four classic tv episodes each night and they were different everyday. There were dramas like Sky King and westerns like High Chaparral and a bunch of sitcoms. I think that’s where I saw Farmer’s Daughter. It’s also where I first saw I Married Joan and Pete and Gladys.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember seeing The Farmer’s Daughter on CBN and local Ch. 39 KXTX (same owners) circa 1985-1986. Sadly, we may never see The Farmer’s Daughter again. Antenna TV announced they would air it when the channel premiered in 2011….only to have to premiere without it when they learned that Sony did not want to go to the expense of transferring the original masters. Sadly, Sony didn’t think there was enough of a market for The Farmer’s Daughter. They apparently wanted to distribute the one-inch transfers from the 1980’s syndication but could not find them (so I’ve heard, anyway).

        A real shame, but hey, in the years since we have seen some other short-lived Sony shows resurface (i.e. Crazy Like a Fox on GetTV last year) so maybe we will eventually see Farmer’s Daughter brought out of mothballs.


  2. I’ve been doing more research about The Farmer’s Daughter. I was told by a gentleman at Sony that they were no longer the rights holder for the show. I’m not sure if this was true or not. I also talked with a gentleman who was an archivist at Sony. He remembers when Antenna TV tried to get ahold of the show. Apparently the brokers at Sony assured Antenna tv that it could air FD. Problem is, the brokers who sealed the deal didn’t check with the archivists. The gentleman told me he was unable to find any trace of the show and he did not think Sony would lend out its collection to CBN. Those had to be 16mm versions. Whether the original 35mm films exist, is a mystery.


    • That’s interesting. I work for a museum and we were trying to get permission to use a clip from a logging scene in a movie Come and Get It from the 1930s. It was crazy how many hoops we had to jump through trying to trace the rights of the movie and then the dvd and how many times in between it had been transferred.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.


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