Our fascination with bigger-than-normal families is nothing new. Long before the Duggars, there was a book and a movie about the Beardsleys and their 18 kids.
Helen Beardsley wrote Who Gets the Drumstick? about her family (“A Story of a Widow and Widower Who Met, Fell in Love, and Lived Happily Ever After”). And in 1968 it was adapted into the now-classic family film Yours, Mine and Ours, starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.
I thought it would be fun to take a look at the big old Victorian house from the movie. It’s a real house that’s still standing in California, and wait ’til you see what it looks like today–beautiful!
The house where they filmed it is in Pasadena (the exterior, anyway). In the movie they say it was “the biggest place we could afford.”
According to Trulia, it was built in 1901 and has 3,017 square feet, with 6 bedrooms and 2 baths. (I’m assuming the interiors were all shot on a soundstage instead of the real house, however.)
In reality, Frank Beardsley added onto his house, and Helen North sold her home and moved into his with her children. The Victorian was a Hollywood addition. You can see photos of their much more modern house here.
The movie had three other working titles that they were considering: The Beardsley Story, Full House, and His, Hers, and Theirs.
Every morning the family goes through 5 lbs of bacon, 3 dozen eggs, and 40 pieces of toast…
Making all those lunches for school is no easy task, either…
Van Johnson played Frank’s navy buddy.
They used the real names of all the Beardsley children in the movie, although they changed some of the age order in the family.
The movie shows how Frank used skills he learned in the Navy to keep his large family organized and the household running smoothly. Check out the chart with the color-coded bathrooms and letter-coded bedrooms:
Their wedding night doesn’t go quite as planned…
Frank gives his daughter a great speech about what true love is on the way to the hospital that always gets me sniffly:
One of my favorite moments is when the doctor (Tom Bosley) slides down the banister like a kid:
The oldest son, Mike, was played by Tim Matheson:
It takes a big mantel to hold all those stockings!
The wedding invitation they show in the movie was the one the real Frank and Helen sent out (love that).
Although the kids are upset that their parents are getting married and plan to adopt them all in the movie, it was the opposite in real life. And they didn’t keep their children a secret from each other in the beginning, either. In fact, Helen brought 5 of her kids to Frank’s house on their first date and they all became immediate friends. They urged their parents to marry and go through with the adoption.
On Christmas morning, Helen gets a phone call from her doctor with the news that she’s pregnant. Here comes baby #19! (Which was truly a Christmas miracle in the movie since Lucille Ball was in her late ’50s at the time she filmed it.)
Although it was portrayed as a shock in the movie, the baby was very much planned and wanted in real life.
The movie was a big hit when it came out in 1968, earning nearly $26 million at the box office (on a budget of $2.5 million), and it’s now considered a classic family film. It was remade in 2005 with Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo.
One of my favorite lines from the movie–and there are lots of good ones–is when Frank says he thought the house cringed when they pulled up in their two station wagons filled with kids, ready to move in:
Want to see how the house looks today? It’s been totally restored and is GORGEOUS. It was taken by Pam Bass for a fascinating website about the real-life Beardsley family:
It’s known as the Blankenhorn-Lamphear house. According to Trulia, it’s worth more than $1 million today–a lot more than the Beardsleys would have paid (or been able to afford) in the ’60s!
According to I Am Not a Stalker, it was also used in the 1999 movie Teaching Mrs. Tingle. Here’s how it looked in that movie:
Does a movie like this make you wish you had a bigger family and lived in a rambling old Victorian? Or maybe make you glad that you don’t? 😉