Father Is a Bachelor (1950): Family Comedy, Starring William Holden (in Black Face and Singing) and Colleen Gray (Father’s Day)

Father Is a Bachelor, a family comedy directed by Abby Berlin and Norman Foster, stars William Holden and Coleen Gray.

The year of 1950 was crucial in Holden’s career, having made two other, major films, Sunset Boulevard and Born Yesterday, both nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

In Father Is a Bachelor, a minor comedy, Holden plays the carefree vagabond Johnny Rutledge, a man stuck in a small town when his medicine show employer, Professor Mordecai Ford (Charles Winninger), is put in jail.

He befriends a young girl named May Chalotte (Mary Jane Saunders), who along with her brothers January (Gary Gray), February (Billy Gray) and twins March (Warren Farlow) and April (Wayne A. Farlow) are orphans. However, fearful of being separated, they have not told anybody.

Johnny starts working hard to support his new family, working on a farm during the week and singing and waiting tables on Sunday in a restaurant owned by Jericho Schlosser (Sig Ruman).

Johnny then meets heiress Prudence Millett (Coleen Gray), when she comes to inquire why the children are not in school. A romance begins to blossom, despite Johnny’s determination to remain unattached.

When wealthy, unloved Jeffrey Gilland Sr. (Frederic Tozere) orders Johnny to keep his children away from his son Jeffrey Jr. (Tommy Ivo), Johnny scuffles with him and gets arrested.

Plato Cassin (Clinton Sundberg) finds out about the children’s parents and blackmails Johnny into agreeing to marry one of his spinster sisters, Genevieve (Peggy Converse) or Adelaide (Lillian Bronson), in order to keep the kids.

Having seen how far Johnny is willing to go for the children, Prudence suggests he marry her instead. In the end, Professor Ford leaves town alone, and Johnny stays with his new family.

William Holden as Johnny Rutledge
Coleen Gray as Prudence Millett
Mary Jane Saunders as May Chalotte
Charles Winninger as Professor Mordecai Ford
Stuart Erwin as Constable Pudge Barnham
Clinton Sundberg as Plato Cassin
Gary Gray as Jan Chalotte
Sig Ruman as Jericho Schlosser
Billy Gray as Feb Chalotte
Lloyd Corrigan as Judge Millett
Frederic Tozere as Jeffrey Gilland Sr.
Peggy Converse as Genevieve Cassin
Lillian Bronson as Adelaide Cassin


Directed by Abby Berlin, Norman Foster
Produced by S. Sylvan Simon
Screenplay by Aleen Leslie, James Edward Grant; story by James Edward Grant
Music by Arthur Morton
Cinematography: Burnett Guffey
Edited by Jerome Thoms
Production and distribution: Columbia Pictures
Release date: February 22, 1950
Running time: 84 minutes