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The REAL Yours, Mine & Ours Family

Perhaps you've seen the 1968 movie Yours, Mine & Ours, starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball with Van Johnson in a supporting role. It tells the story of a widower with ten children who marries a widow with eight children and recounts the hilarious struggles they face before melding into a close-knit family unit.

What many people don't know (I didn't until recently) is that the movie is based on the real-life experiences of the real Beardsley family. The story was first told by Helen North Beardsley in her 1965 book Who Gets the Drumstick?

Lucille Ball read the book, loved it, and bought the film rights to it through her production company, Desilu Studios. She visited the family, and a unique bond was formed between the family members and the actress. She then hired writers to prepare a script for the movie, and the finished product was released by United Artists on April 24, 1968.

The movie is eerily similar to the real Beardsley family's experiences. Frank Beardsley was a Chief Warrant Officer in the Navy, and he had ten children by a previous marriage. Helen North also had eight children by her previous marriage. Both Frank's and Helen's original spouses had passed. After the two married and the families melded into one, the Beardsleys had two more children of their own, bringing the total to 20.

One major difference between the movie and the real story is that in the movie the blended families moved into a "neutral" house, leaving their respective homes in their memories. In reality, however, the family simply added onto Frank's original home to make room for the suddenly expanded numbers.

The Beardsley family has been described as characterized by love, life, kindness, goodness, idealism, and hope. With that many people vying for space and attention in one house, it had to be all those qualities and more.

In addition to their involvement in the movie about their family, the Beardsleys also starred in ads for the Langendorf Bread Company, and they were featured on the sides of the company's trucks. In addition to the monetary payment they received for this, they also received 50 loaves of bread a week from the bakery, and they went through every bit of it.

After retiring from the Navy, Frank bought and ran three bakeries himself. Helen ran a hut and gift shop.

The movie received popular and critical acclaim, an instant success. In 1968, it won the Golden Laurel Award for General Entertainment, and Lucy won a Golden Laurel for Female Comedy Performance. Fonda was also nominated for a Golden Laurel Award for Male Comedy Performance. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture in 1969, and Lucy was nominated for the Best Actress Award.

If you haven't seen the movie (the original 1968 release, not the 2005 remake), find it in your local library, online, or at a local video store. It's good for a lot of healthy, wholesome laughs. It also will help you appreciate not only the struggles but also the blessings of large families. This is especially true in our current society of selfishness and me-ism when children seem to be more of a burden than the immense blessings they are.

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