'Project Dad's' Daniel Cosgrove Reveals 10 TV Dads Who Left A Lasting Impression

"The role of fatherhood is quite important."

Soap star Daniel Cosgrove recently took part in a social experiment by Chicken Soup for the Soul called Project DadThe docu-series follows the dad of four as he cares for his two youngest children over 48 hours without their mom.

"The role of fatherhood is quite important," the Days of Our Lives star told A Plus. "So I was grateful to be a part of something that would highlight that." 

Now that Cosgrove has played Mr. Mom for a couple of days onscreen — something that's quite normal in his day-to-day family life — he's dishing on which TV dads he'd give the highest praise. 

In no particular order, Cosgrove named 10 TV dads who left a lasting impression on him.

"I couldn't rank one over the other. I put together a list and they're all on the list for different reasons, but they're all on a level playing field," Cosgrove told A Plus. 

But because he's appeared on multiple daytime soap operas, including As the World Turns, All My Children, and Guiding Light, Cosgrove felt he had "to kick off my list by mentioning the shows, characters, and actors that played my fathers on these soap operas."


Check out his list of the top 10 TV dads:

1. Billy Lewis — "Guiding Light"

Photo Credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock, Inc.

The TV dad was played by Jordan Clarke, who first appeared on the daytime soap opera in 1974 as Dr. Tim Ryan before a brief departure, and then return, to play Lewis. "He was a fun-loving guy," Cosgrove recalled. "He's someone who I actually — as a person — totally clicked with as well, and out of all the fathers [I worked with], he and I had the most father-son scenes together. He's fun-loving with a little bit of craziness. Just the right amount of craziness." 

2. Bob Hughes — "As the World Turns"

This soap opera dad was played Don Hastings from October 1960 until the series' final episode in September 2010. "I think this show ran for about 50 years and what's crazy is that Don Hastings was on that show for 50 years," Cosgrove said. "He was just such a kind individual, and welcoming, and just a really warm person to be around. It was a really nice thing just to be around someone like that."

3. Stuart Chandler — "All My Children"

David Canary is best known for his roles in the daytime soap and Bonanza. "He played two roles [on All My Children], Stuart Chandler and Adam Chandler, but it was his character Stuart that played my father," Cosgrove recalled about playing the role of Scott Chandler on All My Children. "As a TV dad, he was just very communicative, which I think is key in a father-child relationship. He was someone who saw the good in everyone and was never a cynic. He just represented goodness." 

4. Andy Taylor — "The Andy Griffith Show"

Andy Griffith was one of the actors who brought the colorful characters from the fictional town called Mayberry to life. "I just remember the father and son walking down the old dirt road with fishing poles in hand," Cosgrove said of the show's intro. "He was calm and cool, and just your modern-day, small-town philosopher," he added, laughing.

5. Howard Cunningham — "Happy Days"

Bosley (l.) with Marion Ross, who played TV wife Marion Cunningham. Photo Credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock, Inc.

This TV dad was played by Tony Award-winning actor Tom Bosley, who made the mild-mannered onscreen dad role into something all his own. The show, set in Milwaukee in the 1950s, aired from 1974 to 1984 on ABC. "Funny enough, [Andy Griffith's TV] son, Opie Taylor, was also Richie Cunningham, which brings me to 'Happy Days,' " Cosgrove said about the connection between the two shows found in actor-turned-director Ron Howard, who played these awesome TV dads' sons. "Howard Cunningham may have beat the Fonz on coolness points," Cosgrove added.  

6. Charles "Pa" Ingalls — "Little House on the Prairie"

Michael Landon played the role of Pa on the hit TV drama about the 1870s adventures of the Ingalls family, which aired from 1974 to 1983, and was based on the father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the Little House series. "For me, he was such a hardworking, good soul of a person, who was also showing me that it's alright to cry sometimes," Cosgrove said. 

7. Phil Dunphy — "Modern Family"

Probably one of the funniest TV dads on the screen today, the character played by Ty Burrell couldn't be left out of this list. "He has such a great sense of humor," Cosgrove said. "He's funny, and loving, and has a good moral compass. On the humor spectrum, he's probably the funniest one."

8. Jason Seaver — "Growing Pains"

This 1980s TV sitcom dad was played by the late Alan Thicke, father to singer Robin Thicke, who passed away suddenly at the age of 69 in December. "When compared with Phil Dunphy, Dr. Seaver is the closet with humor. He had a good sense of humor and he wasn't always Mr. Authoritarian. He was always pretty communicative with his kids," Cosgrove said, adding another similarity between Thicke and Burrell's lovable characters. "While those two could be silly, they're not the goofy Nickelodeon dad. They're not over the top." 

9. Jack Arnold — "The Wonder Years"

The father, who always had a disgruntled look on his face, was played by Dan Lauria on the hit TV drama from 1988 to 1993. "Jack Arnold was the one that actually reminded me of my own father," Cosgrove said. "He didn't have to say something verbally, a silence or a look could get his point across. So when he said something, he meant it." 

10. James Evans Sr. — "Good Times"

Amos (r.) with his son K.C. Amos. Photo Credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock, Inc.

Cosgrove kept one of the best for last with the 1970s TV sitcom dad played by John Amos. "[He] and Jack Arnold are probably the two most realistic dads I could identify with the most," he said. "But there was something about James Evans. He's a guy that if he walked in a room you'd just respect this dude. There's a certain strength about him." 

With Evans, there was a special similarity to Cosgrove's family. "I remember the way he had his shirts and his rolled up sleeves," he said. "I come from a family where they all did construction. And that 'speak softly but carry a big stick' is what Evans kind of had. He was someone who busted his butt from job to job, and you could see it reflected in his kids. Well, maybe not J.J.," he adds, laughing.

A Plus' Project Dad content is inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul's Project Dad, a television series about the joy of fatherhood and family. Tune in Thursdays on TLC at 5 p.m. ET.


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