The Kallikaks

The Kallikaks is an American sitcom television series starring David Huddleston which centers around a family from Appalachia that moves to California to run a decrepit gasoline station. The show aired from August 3 to August 31, 1977.[1][2]

The Kallikaks
A promotional photo for The Kallikaks, showing David Huddleston as J. T. Kallikak.
Created byRoger Price
Stanley Ralph Ross
StarringDavid Huddleston
Edie McClurg
Bonnie Ebsen
Patrick J. Peterson
Peter Palmer
Theme music composerStanley Ralph Ross
Opening theme"Beat the System", performed by Roy Clark
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes5
Executive producer(s)Stanley Ralph Ross
Producer(s)George Yanok
Running time30 minutes
Original networkNBC
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseAugust 3 (1977-08-03) 
August 31, 1977 (1977-08-31)



Jasper T. "J. T." Kallikak is a coal miner from Appalachia. He inherits a run-down two-pump gasoline station in the fictional town of Nowhere, California. Thinking that as his own boss he will have a better life, he moves his impoverished family his big-hearted and overly affectionate wife Venus, his status-seeking teenage daughter Bobbie Lou, and his 10-year-old son Junior, who is a smarter version of his father, prone to using big words, and a genius with mechanical things from West Virginia to California to run the gas station, selling no-name gasoline. J. T.'s boarder and only employee there is Oscar Heinz, a German immigrant who can barely speak English and as a result often gets things mixed up. Bobbi Lou gets a job at a nearby fried chicken stand.[1][2][3][4][5]

J. T. is conniving, greedy, and inclined toward get-rich-quick schemes; he boasts of never having paid taxes, saying that there is no need to as long as there are fools who do pay their taxes. He and his family are always trying to in the words of the show's theme song "beat the system;" for example, they try to apply for welfare even though they are employed, and a social worker has to turn them away. The pumps at their gas station are rigged, and generally, their schemes to get ahead which always seem to fail involve conning and cheating someone else.[2][3][4]


Stanley Ralph Ross and Roger Price created The Kallikaks. Ross was its executive producer and George Yanok was its producer. Ross, Price, and Ron Kantor wrote the episodes.[3] The title for the series comes from an early twentieth century sociological study whose author, Henry H. Goddard, coined the name The Kallikak Family as the title of his 1912 book about the study.

Episode directors were Kantor, Bob LaHendro, and Dennis Steinmetz.[3]

Ross wrote the show's theme song, "Beat the System," which Roy Clark performed for the opening credits. Tom Wells wrote other music used in the show.[2][3]

Bonnie Ebsen was the daughter of Buddy Ebsen, who had starred from 1962 to 1971 in The Beverly Hillbillies.[2][3]

Broadcast history

The Kallikaks premiered on August 3, 1977, and aired on NBC on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. throughout its brief run. Broadcast during a time of year when television viewership is low and criticized as an uninspired show with unlikeable characters, The Kallikaks never had much of a chance to succeed. Only five episodes were produced, the last one airing on August 31, 1977.[1][2]



Season #Episode #TitlePlot/NotesOriginal air date
11"You Auto Buy Now"J. T. tries to get rid of a jalopy that has been abandoned at the gas station. Hap Lawrence guest-stars.August 3, 1977
12"TV or Not TV"The Kallikaks receive a television set from an audience-rating service, and a television producer wants them to watch his shows on it. Jack Carter and Robert Donner guest-star.August 10, 1977
13"The Bells Are Wronging"Thanks to a computer error, the Kallikaks mistakenly get a $140,000 refund from the telephone company, and J. T. tries to keep the money. James Karen guest-stars.August 17, 1977
14"I Coulda Been a Contender"After seeing the movie Rocky at a drive-in movie theater, J. T. tries to make Oscar into a prize-fighter and organized crime takes an interest in putting Oscar into the ring.August 24, 1977
15"Swami, How I Love Ya"The Kallikaks greedily hire a medium, Dr. Wally Walla, to find out if Venus's notoriously thrifty deceased brother has left them an inheritance. Jay Robinson guest-stars as Dr. Wally Walla.August 31, 1977


  1. McNeil, Alex, Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming From 1948 to the Present, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, p. 445.
  2. Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime-Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present, Sixth Edition, New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, ISBN 0-345-39736-3, p. 546.
  3. Leszczak, Bob. Single Season Sitcoms, 1948-1979: A Complete Guide. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., Inc., 2012. ISBN 978-0-7864-6812-6, p. 98.
  4. Holsopple, Barbara, "'Kallikaks' Distasteful Comedy," Pittsburgh Press, July 31, 1977, TV section p. 2.
  5. Anonymous, "Huddleston Heads Kallikaks," Lakeland Ledger, August 7, 1977, p. 4.
  6. "CTVA US Comedy - "The Kallikaks" (Neila/NBC)(Summer 1977) starring David Huddleston". Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  7. "The Kallikaks". Retrieved 4 June 2016.
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