Barry Livingston Had Rivalry with Brother Stanley & Escaped ‘Child Star Curse’

Hollywood Actor Barry Livingston developed a rivalry with older brother Stanley, who was the object of everyone’s attention at the time. But that all changed when work brought them together. 

American Actors Barry and Stanley Livingston had dreams of becoming child actors at young ages. Stanley, three years older than Barry, started earlier. 

Stanley became an established actor appearing in the show “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” before becoming a household name after performing on “My Three Sons.” 

Brothers Barry Livingston and Stanley Livingston on “My Three Sons” | Photo: Getty Images

The show was watched by millions of viewers weekly, making Stanley much more famous than his younger brother. Even though he loved his brother very much, Barry once admitted that a sibling rivalry ensued when Stanley became everyone’s favorite.

Girls would swarm around Stanley at the pool or any chance they got, and it didn’t help that family members gushed over him as well, disregarding Barry. This behavior changed when Barry got himself signed to the show.


While speaking with the Archive of American Television, Barry explained that his mother always wanted him to be on the set of “My Three Sons.” Even though he was not on the show, he would hang around and watch the cast.

Photo of Barry Livingston as Ernie from “My Three Sons” circa 1963 | Source: Wikimedia Commons

After a while, Actor Tim Considine, who played Mike Douglas, decided to leave the show and pursue other interests. After Considine’s exit, the show creators looked for someone else to fill his shoes. 

They knew Barry, who was always around the set, had appeared on shows like “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” alongside his brother. Barry was also on two episodes of “I Love Lucy.”

The perfect opportunity came while the team was at a reading. Barry was interviewed and asked to audition. He explained the experience as shocking and nerve-wracking since everyone at the reading table had on stone-cold faces.

Tim Considine on the set of “MY THREE SONS” on JULY 17 | Photo: Getty Images

Barry was helped by Gene Reynolds, who had come on as a new director and was previously a child actor. Reynolds was friendly and warm during Barry’s interview.

Also, with his family set to go on vacation to Palm Springs, Barry was reportedly very keen to leave after his audition but was told to wait. Twenty minutes later, Dan Fedderson, the show’s executive producer, announced that the young actor had passed, and he welcomed him onboard.

Fedderson apologized for making Barry wait before explaining that he was only trying to get the keys to his house in Palm Springs, where he said he would like Barry and his family to stay for vacation. 

Barry admitted that the sibling rivalry he shared with his brother faded when they were both on the hit show. He also confessed to enjoying working with Stanley. 

Barry played Ernie Thompson, and being on the show meant the brothers shared a dressing room, a classroom, went home together, and shared the same bedroom. 

“My Three Sons” was centered on a widower, Steven Douglas, played by Fred MacMurray. The character raises his sons Mike Robbie and Chip with the help of his father-in-law and later his children’s great uncle.

Fred MacMurray, Don Grady, Stanley Livingston & Barry Livingston in a promotional photo for “My Three Sons” | Source: Getty Images

After Barry joined “My Three Sons” in 1963, halfway through the fourth season, the show enjoyed its highest viewership and recorded 13 million viewers the following year. This upturn in events was credited to Barry and his performance.

“My Three Sons” was one of the longest-running television sitcoms and one of the most influential domestic comedies. The show ran for twelve years, from 1960 until 1972.

After the show ended, Barry continued working as an actor. He played O.J Simpson’s lawyer in “The O.J. Simpson Story” by Fox studios and Lex Luthor’s lawyer in “The Adventures of Superman and Lex Luthor.”

Stanley Livingston, William Demarest, Barry Livingston, Don Grady on “My Three Sons,” 1960-1972. | Source: Getty Images

Barry is married to Karen Huntsman, and together, they have 6-year-old Spencer and 3-year-old Hailey. The child actor once explained that playing Ernie Thompson on “My Three Sons” did not help him with ladies in real life.

According to him, girls would laugh at him whenever he alluded to the character. Although he admitted to partying in the ’70s, Barry ensured it never affected his work, sidestepping the usual problems child actors generally face.

The actor also confessed he knew how to party hard and was never the guy who would drink Pepsi in a corner. However, his partying ended when he met his wife in his late 20s. 

Barry Livingston at The Hollywood Museum on November 04, 2021 | Photo: Getty Images

Barry recently teamed up with various celebrities like Loni Anderson and Donna Mills on the game show “The Hollywood Museum Squares.” 

After the game show, Barry praised the show Host John Davidson and revealed that he was a fan before appearing. He also confessed to loving the thrill of answering questions on the show.

He explained how he got on “My Three Sons” and revealed that his favorite memory filming the show was spending time with Actor William Frawley who played Bub because he always made him and his brother laugh.

Stanley Livingston arrives at the The Hollywood Museum and The Hollywood Reporter present “The Awards” Exhibit at The Hollywood Museum on February 16, 2016 | Photo: Getty Images

Barry also talked about working with his brother, Stanley, who he called his best friend. The actor also touched on the “child star curse” that affected most child actors. He explained that his parents knew about the pitfalls of fame, so they made sure he got an education.

He also talked about trying to go to college but couldn’t since he kept getting movie parts that kept him away. Barry admitted he was lucky enough to keep working and earning after leaving “My Three Sons.”

Barry lauded his wife as the person who has kept him going for the past 40 years. He admitted emotional stability is an essential aspect of life, making him lucky to find a great woman.

Fred MacMurray, William Frawley, Tim Considine and Don Grady, on the set of “My Three Sons” | Photo: Getty Images

After leaving the well-acclaimed show, many cast members did amazing things with their careers. Actor Tim Considine became a sports photographer and auto-racing expert.

Don Grady, who played Robbie, married wife Ginny, and they share a powder-blue two-story house with their children Tessa and Joey.

Grady admitted that it was hard getting accustomed to life after the show. He had a director, script girl, and wardrobe man constantly at his disposal, and all those disappeared after leaving “My Three Sons.” 

Stanley Livingston attends ‘ANNETTE: America’s Girl Next Door and the Queen of Teen” exhibit opening night preview on February 22, 2018 | Photo: Getty Images

The actor also explained he would never put his kids through the same experience unless they wanted that life. He eventually became a successful showbiz composer after leaving the show.

Stanley Livingston, on the other hand, married a go-go dancer when he was 18 years old. The decision did not please his on-screen father MacMurray, who spoke to him about it often.

The marriage ended after six years in 1974. He also appeared in “Attack of the 60-Foot Centerfold.” Stanley lives in a Craftsman-style house located in the Hollywood Hills. He also has a daughter named Samantha. 

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