Paul Petersen reflects on recording “My Dad”
Paul Petersen is best remembered as Jeff Stone, the son on The Donna Reed Show. It was on The Donna Reed Show in 1962 when Petersen sang “My Dad” to his on-screen father, Alex Stone, played by Carl Betz. “My Dad” was released later in 1962 on the Colpix label, reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Petersen penned the following reflection for Father’s Day.
Among those things of which I am most proud is the single episode of The Donna Reed Show called “My Dad.” It is tops among my performance life in television. This single episode is consistently voted
in the Top 100 single episodes in television history. That’s why it’s in The Television Hall of Fame. It struck a chord in America when it was first broadcast on October 25th, 1962 and you’d have to be made of stone not to be touched by its straight-forward unapologetic sincerity to this very day.
"My Dad" was not a spontaneous act of creation captured on film. The song was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, arranged by Stu Phillips, recorded
and re-recorded for its presentation on a carefully written family show. It was seamlessly lip-synced for a variety of camera angles over a two-hour period with an hour out for lunch. Scores of people behind the lens made it happen, and they all knew what they were doing, from Donna Reed and Shelley Fabares to the property master and cinematographer.
Spencer Tracy had a viewpoint he shared with Sidney Poitier that says it all when it comes to acting. “Don’t let anybody catch you at it.”
"My Dad" was then and is now greater than the sum of its parts
. This Father’s Day classic continues to capture people’s hearts and moves them to share its impact. I hope the lyrics reach deep into your soul. Take the time to watch the “My Dad” episode on YouTube. Write to me. I collect these tales. Happy Father’s Day.” -Paul Petersen.