The real "Yours, Mine and Ours" family

real and 1968 movie families
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  • Yes, there really was a Frank Beardsley and Helen North Beardsley, and they really did get married (on Sept. 9, 1961) and create a family with 18 children (eventually 20). In fact, they're so real, legal trouble broke out between the YOURS MINE & OURS filmmakers and the BRADY BUNCH tv people over story rights. After Frank retired from the Navy, the family went into the bakery business with the kids helping out after school and on weekends. Helen has since died; Frank married for a third time and died in 2012.

    These photos are from Who Gets the Drumstick?, the family's story as told by the mother. It was published by Random House of New York in 1965.

    This photo shows all 20 children, including the two Helen and Frank had after they got married (Joseph and Helen).

    The kids display their wedding duds. I only see 17. According to Rick Rodewald, husband of Joanie, the one missing is Teresa, but Daniel Fortier thinks Teresa is the curly-haired little girl on the floor and that straight, dark-haired Joan is the one that's missing.

    Here's the family on vacation at Disneyland. While military brat Michelle Keener notes that 1) Disney used to let military families visit the park free on nights they closed the park to everyone else, and 2) the military also used to raise a person's pay as the number of dependents increased (interesting!), Joanie's husband, Rick Rodewald, explains this image was part of the television commercial campaign the family did for Langendorf Bread.

    Check out the curved shaped of the table that lets everybody see everybody else at mealtime.

    Nineteen kids (including Frank's and Helen's first baby, Joseph) wait eagerly for Christmas.

    Helen's book versus Lucille Ball's movie

  • The humor in the book is more wit than physical comedy.

  • The book is very philosophical and reflective, pro love and life and kindness and goodness. Idealistic, hopeful about humanity's potential.

  • The family moved into the father's home in Carmel, not a new "neutral territory" home. They added on to the house and planned extensively. The sleeping arrangements were planned like this: Mike's room and the Greg-Rusty room on first floor, Colleen-Rosemary-Louise room and Tommy-Nick-Gerald(and I think Phillip) room on 2nd floor, Veronica-Susan-Germaine-Jean room and Janette-Mary-Joan-Teresa rooms on 3rd floor near parents. Daniel Fortier once asked Helen in a letter why Phillip's bedroom isn't mentioned in the sleeping arrangement breakdown and she assured him "...he had a bed. Just which one is hard to say. We changed children around frequently during the years..."

  • The kids are described very sweetly. The older ones enjoy playing with and being nice to the younger ones while the younger ones idolize the olders ones. All are depicted as very eager to become brothers and sisters, supportive of the marriage, pressuring their parents to rush it.

  • The book includes extensive humorous descriptions of the first post-marriage grocery shopping and shoe-buying expeditions.

  • The only significant drawback mentioned was the necessity of a strict "no pets" rule (since 18 pets would be a zoo!).

  • An advertising firm named Young & Rubicam put the Beardsley family in a commercial for the Langendorf Bread Company. Filming in their home took 12 days.

  • The children are portrayed as WANTING the adoption to happen, while Frank and Helen seem hesitatant because of criticism from strangers (and one of Dick's relatives) suggesting Dick would have wanted his children to remain "stamped" with his name.

  • Frank and Helen figured from the start that they would probably have additional kids together because of how they felt about each other.

    The Fortier Files

    "I suppose having nineteen kids is carrying things a bit too far.
    But if we had to do it over again, who would we skip...YOU?"

    To date it would seem that the world's leading Beardsley fan-expert is Daniel Fortier ( - he'd love to hear from family members or other fans). He has conducted extensive on-line research about the family and is pleased to have received a personal letter from Helen.

    Frank's father's name was Charles Henry Beardsley (like Rusty). He was born on November 13th, 1873 in California. His mother's maiden name was Mahoney. Charles died in San Francisco at the age of 82 on August 18th, 1956.

    Frank's mother, Mary Ellen Grennan was born on May 28th, 1876 in California. Note that Frank gave his daugher Mary his mom's name and he gave Susan his mom's middle name. Mary Beardsley also died in her 80's and she too died in San Francisco. She was 83 when she died on December 5th, 1959, less than 11 months before Frank's wife Frances died.

    Janette, Nick, Tom, Phillip and Gerald ALL changed their names back to North! This is particularly intriguing in the cases of Phillip and Gerald, who were quite young (both under 4) when their biological father died.

    Birth order changes: In the movie, it's Susan, Veronica, Mary. In real life, it's Mary, Susan, Veronica. Rosemary and Greg were also transposed and so were Nick and Janette.

    Here's a little cheat chart courtesy of Daniel and Rebecca to help you match actors to Beardsleys and Norths.

    "They wrote FANNY HILL in 1786 and they haven't come up with anything new since!" Frank was born Sept. 11, 1915 in Marin County. He retired from the navy in 1968 and purchased 3 bakeries.
    "Doctor, I'm not lonely. I have eight children."
    Helen, author of "Who Gets the Drumstick" (which inspired YOURS, MINE AND OURS) was born April 5, 1930 and died April 26, 2000 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease and a stroke. She had 44 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren at the time. She became a cardiovascular technologist at 43 and also returned to school to study medical transcribing. She and Frank retired in 1986 and moved to Santa Rosa. Helen's first husband, Dick, died June 7, 1960, at age 35.
    "Which one of us do you want to cook?"
    Michael Francis Beardsley
    b - August 2, 1944, Seattle, WA
    Tim Matheson, who portrayed Mike in the film, has probably had the most post-YMO success, starring in many Disney films and portraying villains in A VERY BRADY SEQUEL and FLETCH.
    "My mom's having a baby!"
    Charles Henry Beardsley (Rusty)
    b. January 23, 1946, Seattle, WA
    "You're not an elf!" "I'm practicing."
    Gregory Paul Beardsley (Greg)
    b. October 31, 1947, Tsingtao, China
    Internet research suggests Greg, too, has adopted! Thatta boy!
    "We loved our mother just as much as they loved their father!"
    Rosemary Ann Beardsley
    b. November 1, 1948, Oakland, California
    A flower can bloom in a crowded city but a growing girl needs privacy.
    Louise Antoinette Beardsley
    b. January 10, 1950, Oakland, California
    Interesting note from Jenni Crocker. Suzanne Cupito, who portrayed Louise, would later be known as Morgan Brittany.
    "Why don't you get a haircut!"
    Colleen Marie North Beardsley
    b. June 1, 1950, Oak Harbor, Washington
    "I can't find my pajamas!" "Sleep without them for one night." "I'd rather die!"
    Janette Deen North
    b. June 15, 1951, Kodiak, Alaska
    "Could you just point?"
    Mary Cecelia Beardsley
    b. August 11, 1951, Oakland, California
    "Where's 6 Blue B?"
    Nicholas Richard North(Nick)
    b. July 16, 1952, Kodiak, Alaska
    "I can't eat if everybody's gonna cry!"
    Susan Ellen Beardsley
    b. December 6, 1952, Oakland, California
    "Twenty percent chance of rain!"
    Thomas Roderick North (Tom)
    b. October 17, 1953, Oak Harbor, Washington. Like Eric Shea, Mitch Vogel, the actor who portrayed Tommy, appeared on "Little House on the Prairie" and was a regular on "Bonanza/Ponderosa."
    "Are you gonna tell the lady you have 10 little children at home, two of them given away?"
    Veronica Marion Beardsley
    b. September 13, 1954, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
    "I'm 11 red A, I'm 11 red A."
    Jean Louise North Beardsley
    b. December 12, 1955, Uchitomari, Okinawa, Japan
    "I can live without bacon, though some people are pigs about it."
    Phillip Anthony North
    b. February 7, 1957, Great Lakes, Illinois
    The actor who plays Phillip is brother to Christopher Shea, the voice of Linus in the early CHARLIE BROWN specials (thanks, The next time you watch the movie, close your eyes while Phillip is speaking and notice how much it reminds you of "Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about."
    Eric Shea also appeared in THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and is probably the second most successful child actor from the cast (after Tim "Mike" Matheson).
    "Oh, have a heart! Leave them on someone else's doorstep!"
    Germaine Marie Beardsley
    b. March 19, 1957, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
    Germaine, one of the two Beardsley babies making a much heralded homecoming on the wedding night, was played by Ricky Nelson's daughter, Tracy (FATHER DOWLING MYSTERIES).
    Gerald Joseph North
    b. October 14, 1958, Oak Harbor, Washington
    Gerald had no lines in the film but is the little chow-hound pigging out next to Mom when the parents suggest adoption at the dinner table. He also reaches for her adoringly during the Christmas carol scene. The actors playing Gerald and Teresa are siblings in real life.
    "Can I hold MY sister?
    Joan Frances Beardsley
    b. March 8, 1960, San Jose, California
    Teresa Rose North Beardsley
    b. August 30, 1960, Oak Harbor, Washington
    "Is he MY brother or YOUR brother?
    Joseph John Beardsley (Joe)
    b. July 14, 1962, Fort Ord, California
    Helen Monica Beardsley
    b. April 19, 1964, Fort Ord, California
    One photo in the book (see top of page) shows the family debating names for this final child. Apparently, Kuan Yin, Chinese Goddess of fertility, was not considered.

    Class affiliations designated for North or Beardsley children at Carmel High per

    Mike Beardsley 1963
    Charles (Rusty) Beardsley 1964
    Mary Beardsley 1969
    Janet North 1969
    Nick North 1970
    Tom Beardsley 1971
    Veronica Beardsley 1972
    Phillip North 1975
    Gerald Beardsley 1977
    Joan Beardsley 1978

    From the Fortier files:

    Louise, Greg, and Rosemary graduated from Junipero Memorial High School in Monterey. Susan and Colleen attended a private convent school for gifted girls. Louse is under the impression that all the children graduated from high school. By the time Teresa, Joe and Helen graduated high school, the Beardsleys were living in Fresno. Joan may have stayed in the Monterey area to graduate from Carmel (and Teresa perhaps from Junipero?).

    Here's a comparison of movie ages versus real ages. Movie ages reflect the opinions of Rebecca and Daniel. Actors portraying Beardsleys are welcome to chime in with corrections! : ) Real ages are recorded as years and months with a colon between.

    NAME Frank Helen Mike Rusty Greg Rosemary
    Movie late 40s late 30s 18 17 15 16
    Reality 46 31:5 17:1 15:8 13:10 12:10

    NAME Louise Colleen Janette Mary Nick Susan
    Movie 12 16 14 5 15 11
    Reality 11:8 11:3 10:3 10:1 9:2 8:9

    Tom Veronica Jean Phillip Germaine Gerald Joan Teresa
    9 7 7 6 2 3 1 1
    7:11 7:0 5:9 4:7 4:6 2:11 1:6 1:0

    "I thought I saw the house cringe as we drove up."

    As mentioned above, the family did NOT move into a new home after marrying but expanded on Frank's.

    According to Daniel (who contributed these images), folks who've resided in the Beardsley house since the family's move to Fresno include Mike Monroe, Danielle Dress, Adrienna Sanches and James W. Silveria. Daniel has heard that, at one time, the home served as a facility for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts (bathroom total increased to 8! They've since been removed again).

    Here are links to the floor plan, drawn by Helen for Daniel Fortier, of the 5,500 sq. foot. Beardsley house.

    Top Floor
    Middle Floor
    Bottom Floor

    Feb. 6, 2004: Don't know how long this link will last, but the house was put on the market. Nice find, Daniel!

    Questions I'd love to ask

    "Have you ever been forced to appear in public in a dress that has had THREE former owners, re-styled by an old sail maker?"

    No one assumes that everything was perpetually hunky dory in the Beardsley/North household, then or now. Plus, one can't escape the political implications of the book. Clearly Frank and Helen were two people who loved their faith at a time when proponents of birth control and sexual freedom were accusing the Catholic Church of inhuman repression. But the raison d'être for this page is, in this insulationist, materialistic era of woefully inverted values, the Beardsleys and Norths may hold incredible insight into the process of valuing people more than physical comfort. If I could, I'd like to ask them:

  • Were you envied or embarrassed? Both? Which moreso?
  • What things caused resentment of the marriage (and the creation of a house with 18 kids) and what things caused appreciation for it?
  • What did you have to go without because of a large family, and what things did you miss most?
  • What was different about how your family functioned compared to how families function now?
  • In what ways did the families stay segregated (as Beardsleys and Norths) and in what ways were they most integrated?
  • What impact did the movie have on your lives? Did it increase scrutiny? Has there been any follow-up publicity (articles, television news stories) about the family in the past 35 years?
  • What was most inaccurate in the movie? About the book? What was most accurate?
  • Do strangers recognize your names?
  • How and to what degree do the family members stayed in touch?


    Updates initially consisted of feedback from visitors and were not dated until April 2005.

    John Dorn, the husband (separated) of Rosemary, says "the whole family is the most wonderful group of people I have ever met!" He also shares this tidbit, one of Frank's common sayings:
    "Remember, none of you kids are famous without the others."

    (We regret to report an email from Chuck Myer stating that John Dorn passed away November 24, 2003 in Sonora, CA.)

    Speaking of lots of others, John reports that his and Rosemary's 17-year-old daughter, Monica, has sixty cousins!

    Aaron G. Poff ( was married to Helen's sister, Kathleen 'Kay' Brandmeir, and frequently visited the family. He greatly admired them, attributing their loving, grateful attitudes to their tragic sense of loss over the deaths of Dick and Frances and their appreciation for how love could heal their pain and enrich their lives. As for the movie, he observes that, while Helen had a fine sense of humor, she was never as silly as some parts of the movie suggested.

    In 1975 Kay and Aaron divorced. She married Walter Hartmann in 1979. Thanks to M. Elliott for the update!
    UPDATE April 27, 2005:
    Veronica, if you're out there, Michelle LaPointe ( says hello! She wrote me recently concerning the planned remake of YMO:

    "I was an eighth-grade classmate of Veronica Beardsley (called 'Ronnie,' then, at least at school) when the original was made in 1968. My sister was in the same grade as Philip and Germaine. (Philip, who was quite a spirited kid, used to answer the phone 'Beardsley's cookie jar. Which crumb do you want to talk to?' I don't think his parents were too happy about that.)

    "Our family went to the movie premiere they held in Carmel, along with most of our classmates and half the town (at least it seems that way in memory). Lucille Ball came and did a few days of public appearances; my mother, sister, and I went to Macy's to get her autograph.

    "I remember...

    ...that Ronnie was smart, sensible, good at volleyball, and a kid you could trust
    ...that you could tell the Norths from the Beardsleys because most of the Beardsleys had red hair. Many members of one side of the family (I forget if it was North or Beardsley) also had a crooked little finger.
    ...that their house, at least the couple of times that I visited it after school, was remarkably quiet and orderly, especially in comparison to our house, even though we only had six kids. The Beardsley pantry held the biggest jar of peanut butter I have ever seen, then or since."

    I think we thought of the family as interesting and unusual, but not fascinating. The big questions were logistical: how many kids shared a bedroom, how did they manage mealtimes, how many cars did it take to get everyone to church? We went to a Catholic school, so everyone knew big families - just not that big! By my age, we also knew that sometimes parents died and that the widowed remarried. Their situation was definitely recognized as being both brave and out of the ordinary but not strange.

    The Beardsley kids I knew were normal, fun, interesting kids. I don't remember them being in the newspaper except for the movie stuff, although they may have. They certainly didn't behave like celebrities.

    I remember being fascinated by the teenagers in the family. Very few of my friends had older siblings, and at the time I thought that anyone over the age of 14 had to be sophisticated and independent. Plus they all had jobs, which I thought was cool. And there were a lot of them.

    The movie was definitely a cool experience. They didn't make it in Carmel, but they had one of the premieres there, and it was very exciting. Everybody dressed up to go, everybody was talking about it. It was one in a series of memorable events in a fairly momentous period.

    Carmel was small, but not 'small-town America.' We always had celebrities in town: retired and vacationing movie stars, the spillover from the Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament every year. In the two years I lived there, 1967 and 1968, we also had the Monterey Pop Festival, the burial of the hippie movement at Haight-Ashbury (so a lot of the hippies moved to Carmel), and a visit to our school from Governor Brown and Lady Bird Johnson, wife of then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. Monterey was also one of the jumping-off points for soldiers going to Vietnam.

    The movie wasn't exactly like the family. They scrambled everybody's ages, left out most of the red hair, and set it in San Francisco, which was nothing like our town. Of the kids I knew, the one who was most different from her character in the movie was Louise, who I remember as being reserved. The kid who was most like his character was Philip. But nobody seemed to mind the differences; it was a good movie, and no one expected a documentary.

    I only knew the younger kids, but the Beardsleys absolutely functioned like a single family. Without the physical differences, you couldn't tell which was which. At school, at least, they seemed just our family, only on a grander scale.

    UPDATE October 23, 2005:
    Judy Tripp-Neu (nee SCHLAICK) writes:
    I went to school at Junipero Memorial High School and graduated with Rosemary Beardsley. I considered her my friend and shared many lunches together on the warm pavement which formed the quad for our small high school. We were taught by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and earned a very highly respected diploma from the school.

    Rosemary was quiet and yet very introspective. Rusty was funny and given to laughter. Both had the red hair and freckles. They were good students and it was not uncommon for all of us to spend time studying together.

    As I remember, after the Graduation Mass, our entire class was invited to the Beardsley home for breakfast. Despite their large family, they were generous and kind to outsiders and I don't remember the kids ever going without or complaining that they had to make concessions that eliminated them from any of the school activities.

    The movie did not seem to change any of the family. There was some hoopla when it premiered in Carmel, but by and large, all of the family members that I met through the four years in Junipero seemed quite unaffected by it. If someone asked if they were "that family," they readily owned up to it and patiently answered polite questions.

    Sister Monica Gillespie, OP, was the principal of Junipero Memorial High School the last three years that we were there, and she was very close to the family. I believe the last child, Helen, may have her name as a middle name.

    UPDATE November 30, 2005
    Debbie Humm-Bremser, whom the Beardsleys used to call their '21st child,' lived next door and owned Cindy, the black cocker spaniel mentioned in DRUMSTICK. "When I married in 1984, I'm proud to say that 16 of the twenty kids were there." (Missing: Collien, Rusty, Mike, Nick. Click
    here to see Debbie with Frank and Helen on her wedding day.)

    Debbie sent in the following:

    Monterey Penninsula Herald 1968 article on Beardsley nut store.

    'Similar' article about the blended Frank McHugh/Eileen White family.

    UPDATE Nov. 22, 2005

    Here's the Monterey Herald story interviewing original family members about the 2005 remake.
    pic from new movie

    UPDATE July 24, 2006
    Attention, infamous eighteen (or 20, rather)! Your old schoolmate, Cathy J. Fields, now Cathy Penn, would love to hear from any of you ( Her dad, Chester James Fields, Jr., worked with Frank in the navy. Her mom is Dorothy Fields; siblings are John, Cindy, Cole, Debbie, Celia, Leif and Laura. Drop her a line if you want to catch up!
    UPDATE October 10, 2007
    Brandi Means, former step-child of Greg Beardsley and proud issuer of the nation's first amber alert (in her capacity as an employee of the State of California, Caltrans), writes to share her memories of Greg as a wonderful father who shared his Cat Stevens music with her. She loved the Christmas gatherings and insists, "Aunt Lousie was a doll. I looked up to her being a nurse. Uncle Rusty was just cool all around. Helen and Frank were great parents, as well as grands."
    UPDATE February 4, 2008
    Lars (Larry) Klassen, a classmate of Greg Beardsley's at Junipero Memorial High School (class of 1965) wrote from Quito, Ecuador: "I recall overnighting one time at the Beardsley place on Rio Road in Carmel. It was rather like attending a boarding school/summer camp/military barracks all at the same time. Lots of hustle and bustle. I particularly remember being impressed with assembly-line system they used for preparing school lunches; definitely the institutional food preparation approach, at least for sack lunches!" Larry has two younger brothers who also had Beardsleys as classmates. "JMHS held an all year reunion in Monterey in 1995 and my brother Rusty and I attended, but frankly, I don't remember if Greg or any of the siblings attended that year." Thanks for sharing, Lars!
    UPDATE October 9, 2008
    Captain Willilam "Bill" Thies, U.S. Navy (retired), wrote to share this:
    "In 1938, I was stationed at the Sand Point Naval Air Station in Seattle, WA. I was attached to a PBY (Catalina) squadron of airplanes. Frank was the squadron yeoman. When the squadron would fly to other bases, Frank would insist [to] the Commanding Officer that he would pack his typewriters and files only in the plane I was going to fly...he would fly with no one else."
    Later, Captain Thies lived a few blocks from the Beardsleys in Carmel, visiting frequently with his wife. One of his daughters had a crush on Rusty! Here's Bill's Web site about the discovery of Koga's Zero. He'd love to reconnect with Frank. His email is
    UPDATE October 13, 2009
    This is how history is made - or at least discovered. Leah M. Novack visited an Oroville, California 'yard sale leftovers' event she discovered on craigslist and came away with a carload of old books including a copy of "Who Gets the Drumstick?" containing several North family treasures like a photo of young seaman Dick North in uniform, Colleen's wedding invitation, and...

    Dick's parents, i.e. Grandma and Grandpa North.

    Chez Beardsley, August 1961 (date on photo)

    So odd, to think how easily history gets discarded. Thanks, Leah, for rescuing these bits!
    UPDATE January 4, 2010

    From "According to the San Leandro history room Helen North and her children lived for a while in San Leandro California at 1020 Bancroft Avenue." Wonder if that's where they lived when they first moved to California? Michael says it's a two-story split level in back and borders a creek.

    UPDATE March 3, 2010
    Joe Hawkins writes to share this Web site about efforts to preserve an A-3 Skywarrior for the Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island:

    As many of you know, the Skywarrior, or "Whale," was the plane on which Dick North was navigating during that fateful training flight that took his life. After an illustrious history of protection and service, the plane has been decommissioned; most will go for scrap unless efforts like this one succeed in creating places of honor for them.

    For those who may have forgotten, Whidbey was also the location of the house with the leaky roof from "Who Gets the Drumstick?"

    UPDATE May 7, 2010
      Larry: You'd think that was their first baby!
      Colleen: Oh, why don't you get a haircut!

    Art, they say, imitates life, but in the case of one future dentist, life may have imitated art. Colleen North Beardsley really did date a motorcycle-riding young man, though not until after the 1968 movie was filmed.

    Jay Huffaker, DDS, a Los Angeles professional with a private practice, will soon be celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary. But he remembers a young lady from a bakery as his first serious relationship.

    "Because of a union strike at the copper mill where I worked," relates Huffaker, "I moved from Utah to Monterey to live with a longtime friend, a training officer at Fort Ord. One day, I went into the Beardsley doughnut shop where a young lady caught my eye. I thought about her for a week or two before working up the courage to ask her out."

    She looked different than he remembered when he finally returned to the pastry shop, but it had taken such effort to work up the nerve to ask her out that he forged ahead. That's how he came to begin dating Colleen, a relationship that lasted a full year despite his having originally been attracted to...Janette!

    One can almost feel him grinning as Huffaker relates his first visit to the Beardsley household. "Colleen had told me that I'd have to meet her parents before she could go on a real date alone with me and so invited me to her home the following Saturday. I was ushered into a game room off the carport, a large room, as I recall, with a ping pong table, a pool table, and a great many young people. The boy who greeted me at the door introduced himself."

    "'Hi, I'm Mike, Colleen's brother. This Colleen's brother, Greg. This is Colleen's sister, Louise.'"

    As the introductions continued, Huffaker noticed something odd. The 'siblings' didn't look that much alike! He must have felt pretty clever when he finally came up with a rational explanation: "I was being duped! They had to be friends of Colleen's who were playing a trick on the new guy!"

    Huffaker felt very fortune to be so warmly welcomed by the family. "Frank and Helen invited me and Colleen to drive to San Francisco to a Giants football game. Frank had me do most of the driving, and I'll never forget how impressed Helen was when I identified Grieg's 'Peer Gynt Suite' on the radio." He'd been a musician, it turned out, in the army...but the navy family didn't hold that against him. "Later that year they allowed me to take Colleen back home to Utah to meet my parents. Helen even arranged for me to take a copy of Who Gets the Drumstick, autographed by her, Frank, and all the children." Even baby Helen added a scribble.

    Huffaker attended Mike's wedding at the Carmel Mission as Colleen's date. But eventually the couple, separated in age by 5 years, drifted apart. Still, he remembers Colleen fondly, a sentiment that's recalled every time he sees a delightful coincidence unspool in the movie. Remember what happens to Larry the night of Helen's frantic trip to the hospital to deliver her 19th child? No, not the fight with Mike...
      Larry: Hey, man! Don't you know how to drive? Look what you did to my bike!
    Huffaker's only means of transportation while dating Colleen was a motorcycle.
    UPDATE June 15, 2011
    Thanks to native Pasadenean Pam Bass for sharing this recent photo of the house from the original YMO movie located at 346 Markham Place in Pasadena. You can click the newer photo for a larger version. Pam points out that the matching garage in back may have been added long after the house was built built. Does anybody remember if it appeared in the movie?

    UPDATE February 20, 2012
    Smokin Jim, a DJ, talk show host, and co-owner of MyKDAN 24/7 online radio, wrote to share that, "If one looks carefully during the scene when Frank and Helen leave the driveway on the way to the hospital, just as soon as the car pulls out of the driveway (going in the right direction!)," you can see the garage behind the house. He adds that this only works if you're watching the DVD, not a VHS tape. So presumably, you need a a wide-screen version of the movie, not pan-and-scan.

    UPDATE March 21, 2012
    22 Beardsley autographs! That's what Mary Minjares discovered when she picked up a copy of Who Gets the Drumstick? at a yard sale and looked at the front cover facing page. Who is Carolyn Wade and why on earth did she ever give up such a treasure?

    UPDATE April 2, 2012
    Bill Meltzer notes you can also see the garage at 346 Markham Place on the DVD in the long shot of the house at the end of the film as Mike is walking to the bus station. Again, you need the (presumably widescreen) DVD, not a VHS or 'cropped for television' copy.
    UPDATE June 4, 2012
    Amy Shepard reports that her father was one of 18 children in a family from the Pacific Northwest that competed on a 1950s television showed called You Asked For It. The prize? A contract to represent a bread company in their publicity compaign to promote their bread (a fine product to accompany the gameshow's sponsoring product, Skippy Peanut Butter!). The winners? The Beardsley family. Keep your fingers crossed and maybe hwy61media or another YouTube channel provider will find and post the episode one day!
    UPDATE June 22, 2012
    Had a lovely interaction recently with Cesca Holmbo, whose father, a general contractor named Frank Lucido, helped build the addition to the Beardsley home on Rio Road. Cesca attended Junipero Serra School with Jeannie, becoming her best friend in 5th grade. "I remember visiting and couldn't believe the bedrooms with five beds in each." The Beardsley kids had chores they had to complete before they could play, Cesca recalls. The two girls used to walk to church together and worked for a short time at the Donut House in Monterey.

    One summer, Cesca got to accompany Jeannie and a handful of other Beardsley youngsters (possibly Veronica and Germaine) on a month-long vacation at a cabin in Clear Lake, California. "I don't know if the cabin was owned by the Beardsleys, but it was very large, two or three stories high. We all rode up in the back of a bread van." Cesca was the only non-family member present. Rosemary was the 'adult' who took care of the five younger children and did a wonderful job, Cesca remembers, though she eventually had to call home when they almost ran out of food. Cesca remembers Rosemary being about 22 at the time; the vacation may have taken place in 1968, which would have made Rosemary 19 or 20.

    "It was a beautiful mountainous area to spend a vacation," Cesca relates. The cabin had all the modern amenities and the children spent their days swimming, berry-picking, singing (Jeannie and Cesca especially loved the Royal Crown commercial jingle), and meandering down to the general store that showed weekly movies including a Paula Prentiss/Richard Benjamin film (possibly He Said, She Said).

    A wonderful bunch of people, Cesca summarizes. "I had great respect for this family."
    UPDATE December 2012

    Death Notice

    I am sorry to have to report that on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, around noon, Francis L. Beardsley passed away. He had apparently been ill and in pain. I'd like to share with you this memorium from a loved one:

    Frank (Francis L. Beardsley) left us this afternoon as he was called by our Lord. He has now gone home. Frank has been a very dear man to me for over the past decade or so. It is so bitter-sweet. I am happy for him that he is now out of pain and going to a much better place than here...Heaven... but I am also so sad that we don't have him anymore. He shall be greatly missed. He served our country for 30+ years and he served me as an inspiration. "Frank, God-speed. I shall miss you my friend. May we meet in Heaven in the future. Thank you for all you have done for me and all you have meant to me. I love you."
    Brief obituary

    Full obituary

    UPDATE July 2013

    Press coverage has begun concerning Tom North's autobiographical book about his childhood, True North: The Shocking Truth about "Yours, Mine, and Ours." Here is some of what he had to say in a radio interview in June.

    Content from 'Simple Life' radio interview
    In studio, Cynthia Fernandes with Tom North
    Saturday, June 22, 2013
    KRXA 540AM, Carmel Valley CA
    Summarized by Rebecca Webb

    Tom's life with his biological parents was blissful. He was six when his father died and he remembers him well. Dick was gone a lot for work (navy aviator in post-Korean War era). He would send home films of far eastern tourist sites that the kids loved to watch, especially when Dick got in the picture and the kids would all yell, "There's Daddy!" Tom remembers him as a wonderful human being, a fun man who delighted his children and taught life lessons. Helen was wonderfully in love with him.

    When Dick, a flyer of experimental aircraft, learned his wife was pregnant with his 8th child, he asked his commanding officer for a desk job. He was denied and died six weeks later, testing the A3D fighter bomber for aircraft carriers. Tom was devastated by the loss and became physically ill for months.

    Helen was affected, too. Unable to cope with the loss, she withdrew. Tom tried to be close to her, but she was no longer an affectionate person. She was well-intentioned but not nurturing. A conversation with a younger brother revealed that neither he nor Tom could remember ever receiving a hug from Helen.

    Unlike Dick, Frank was a person of extremely negative energy, according to Tom. Other expressions he uses to describe Frank include mentally unstable, emotionally unstable, quick-changing, violent, and psychotic, a man who found excuses to abuse people. "I'd be walking down the hall and he would knock me across the room." When Tom would ask why he was being hit, Frank would reply, "Just for drill." It was a 'get tough or die' environment, a domestic situation Tom describes as "seriously insane." He tried running away at seven but the family's bulk food items proved too heavy to put in a child's backpack.

    Later in life, Helen shared with Tom that she married Frank Beardsley because she was afraid he was going to kill his children. Being a dutiful Irish Catholic woman, she was certain she could and should protect his kids and save him from himself. She brought a breath of fresh air into the lives of his children but lost control of the situation, abandoning her own kids to a dangerous environment. Her siblings, particularly Bob and Kay, had seen what was happening and tried to discourage the marriage. Eventually, Frank banned them from the household.

    At the time of Helen's and Frank's marriage, the combination of two large families was a public interest item that made national news. Lucille Ball saw the story in the newspaper, called Helen, and told her, "I'd like to make a movie about your family." It was a time of 'Ozzie and Harriet,' 'Leave it to Beaver,' 'My Three Sons,'... "the era of the white American suburban family," Tom asserts. Lucy asked Helen to write a book and so they could make a movie based on the book. She came to the house to study Helen in preparation for playing her onscreen. After a couple of hours, Tom saw her approach Helen and demand, "You keep that man [Frank] away from me." She was a very good judge of people, Tom says, sharp and alert.

    The movie got the logistics of running a large household correct, but the rest was a complete fantasy. Frank was portrayed as wise, loving, caring, and sensible, the man who gave the speech insisting they become one big happy family. After a family therapy session decades later, several of the Norths promised each other they would never again support the fantasy that was "Yours, Mine, & Ours."

    UPDATE August 5, 2013
    My review of True North

                    Whether you're a fan, friend, pop culturist, sociologist, or fellow traveler, Tom North's True North: The Shocking Truth about 'Yours, Mine and Ours,' proves a convincing and compelling read. An autobiography describing North's recovery from the abusive, incestuous, malnourished and neglectful household of the celebrated Carmel family, the book also provides an absorbing look at baby-boomer childhood in a semi-rural, hippie-riddled community of suburban California.
                Fans will enjoy the fleshed-out stories about life and death with Dick, working in the donut shop, and growing up in the Beardsley household. But be warned. Most of the tales involve pain and suffering.
                North is direct and open in his allegations and takes full responsibility for making them. The book blatantly acknowledges that he's only telling one side of the story; there's not a single specific reference to a biological Beardsley child, not even half-siblings Joe and Helen. He assigns blame intentionally and repeatedly to overly large families (and the institutions that encourage them), autocratic attitudes (and the institutions that encourage them), and obsession with fame and appearances.
                This last accusation may be the most difficult for some readers to handle. Disclaiming the fairy tale of Yours, Mine and Ours seems to have proven fundamental to the recovery of affected family members. And we've been warned for decades (by films like Network and Broadcast News) about the dangers of using news and reality as entertainment. But the Turner Classic Movies station (TCM) shows the film regularly, and hundreds of new fans flock to the Internet after each screening, seeking more information on this legendary family. Can the myth and the legend co-exist peacefully, even productively? Perhaps it depends on how people use the information this time.

    Rebecca Webb
    The real "Yours, Mine and Ours" family website

    UPDATE October 25, 2013
    Thanks to Alex Bogue for this shot of the Beardsley clan from...the 1980s? Can you identify any of the kids or provide any info? Click here for the guesses so far. Note the fancy clothes and Helen's corsage. An anniversary party? It looks to have been taken some time AFTER Debbie's 1984 wedding. 25th anniversary celebration in 1986, perhaps? [Yes, confirmed by Debbie Humm-Bremser, December 2014]. Interesting, that two of the girls are touching Frank but no one is touching Helen.

    UPDATE April 28, 2014
    Received some wonderful material about the young North family yesterday from Jim Lester. All emphasis is mine.

    "My family lived next door to the North family from 1959 through 1960 plus a few months, on Whidbey Island. We were also a Navy family and I was in the 1st and 2nd grade at the time. I played with the North boys but mostly with one boy who was around my grade; I believe Nick and younger brother Tom. I can still picture their house. Our house was to the left of theirs looking from the street. Their grandfather was often there and had a garden and as kids we were sometimes troublesome. The old fellow was afraid of snakes and I had several toy snakes. I left a bamboo one in his garden once and later found it destroyed by a garden tool. That ended that game! They also had a big dog that lived in a large, nice dog house outside. The doghouse was nearly as tall as me.

    "The lot after mine was wooded and had a long-dead tree, half fallen down with its root still attached. Us boys used to climb that tree and imagine it anything but a tree.

    "I remember when Mr. North crashed and died. My mother discussed it with me and wouldn't let me go over and play with the kids that day so I understood something serious had happened. Play next door was more somber after that.

    "Navy families move every 2 to 4 years depending on sea duty or land duty activity. Parents tend to stay in contact with other parents for years but young kids lose contact with friends quickly every time they move and seldom develop lifelong friendships. So Navy kids' only lifelong friendships tend to be with their siblings which probably helped the North/Beardsley merger work."
    UPDATE Fall 2014
    In August 2014, Michael from Australia shared the following about the house on Rio Road after the Beardsleys moved out. Edited for clarity.

                I lived in that house when Mike Munro owned it. He was a Century 21 real estate agent who ran an informal boarding house at the property. Not sure [it was ever a] drug rehabilitation place, but it was a pretty crazy house. It would have made another movie, though not as PG as the first. You could jump from the top floor to the hot tub on the middle floor. The people on the bottom level smoked so much cocaine they swore there were holes in the ceiling. If you were a bit better than homeless you could afford a room.
                That was 20 years ago. I have fond memories of the people that lived there. At times art students and kids. Two teenagers lived there while their hippie parents lived in Asia. They used to pick wild mushrooms to sell to restaurants in order to buy pot. Other times...not such fun people.

    Mike also mentioned a resident celebrity (or his wannabe) who shall remain nameless...but he's a counterculture rocker, founding member of 3 bands...and a sperm donor.
    UPDATE December 2014
    Thanks to Debbie Humm-Bremser for sharing the following from Frank's funeral.

    Front row: Susie, Mary, Germaine, Rosie, Louise
    Back row: Helen, Rusty, Mike, Ronnie, Greg
    Teresa and Joanie had already left. Gerry North, who brought his Aunt Kay, was also discretely in attendance.

    UPDATE November 2017
    Christopher Freeze generously shared this write-up about the crash that killed Dick North. Here is a PDF in case you have trouble with the link. Thank you for your hard work, Christopher!
    UPDATE April 2021
    In 1975 Kathleen 'Kay' Brandmeir and Aaron Poff divorced. She married Walter Hartmann in 1979. Thanks to M. Elliott for the heads up!
    UPDATE August 2022
    Thanks to Sharon Oels Martyn for sharing this Zillow listing for the house on Rio Road.

  • UPDATE November 2022
    Sharon Oels Martyn gave me permisson to share these insights about Tom North's book, "True North." Thanks so much, Sharon.

    I find that often siblings have different memories of family life, and a lot of the time, it is due to the ages of the children. In this family, I think the older kids, many of whom were out of the home so much earlier than the younger kids, probably remember the "honeymoon phase". Everyone is trying to get to know each other. Everyone is on their best behavior. A few years down the road, when kids start leaving for college and/or are out of the house, people tend to get more comfortable with the family dynamic and old habits and behaviors resurface. This means the older kids, no longer there to observe the day-to-day interactions in the home, don't have an opportunity to really see what is really going on. The younger kids bear the brunt of most of the relationship problems. I can think of two cases, one famous and one less so, where we see good examples of this.

    Christina Crawford, daughter of Joan Crawford wrote the book "Mommie Dearest", which I believe is a true accounting of her life and that of her brother, who was close in age to her. Joan later adopted "twins" (they were not even related), but by the time she did so, she was taking medication and also had more outside support, in a stable relationship, and was under less stress. The twin sisters say that nothing Christina wrote was true, but they lived a very different life with their, by then, healthier mother. Joan, as a mother, raised Christina and her brother differently than she raised the twins, and the younger girls never saw what their older sister went through. They were not even born when most of the things Christina recounts happened. By the time they became aware of life in their home, Christina was off at boarding school. Just because they did not witness it, doesn't mean it did not happen.

    The second case is a lot closer to home. We lived in Wichita, Kansas for 7 years, during which time my daughter was in high school. She had a friend, not super close, but they knew each other and had classes together, named Kerri. We moved to Dallas in 1998, and after a semester, my daughter returned to Kansas to finish college. She got a good job in Wichita and decided to stay. A couple of years later, a serial killer, who called himself BTK (for Bind them, Torture them, Kill them), resurfaced. He first killed a family of 4 in 1974, and by 1991, 6 months before we moved to Wichita, he had killed 10 people. After that, no more murders were committed by him, and he ceased the media and police communication he had had while he was active. We remember reading and hearing about BTK while we lived in Wichita, from 1991 to 1998.

    In 2004, our daughter called to tell us that BTK had resurfaced and was in contact with local media and the police. After 11 months, he was finally captured. His name was Dennis Rader, and he was Kerri's father. Our daughter had a really hard time processing this information, but what she felt was nothing to what Kerri went through. Kerri eventually wrote a book. She said was that her entire life had been a lie. Her father killed one of his victims when her mother was a few months pregnant with her, so the person who raised her was, and had always been, a serial killer. She thought she had a good relationship with her father, but she finds out he was nothing like what she thought. She lived in a tiny, 960 SF house with him, yet he managed to keep his secret from the entire family. Her father was a cold blooded killer, yet was president of his church, a Boy Scout leader and attended all his kid’s school functions. By all appearances, he was exactly who he seemed to be.

    Usually you can't tell what is really inside a person, and what they are capable of. You never know what goes on in a marriage, unless you are one of the two people who are in it. The same goes with a family, and families are fluid- they change as members come and go, as kids grow, as relationships become close, and as they become less intimate.

    I believe Tom. I appreciate that he has the courage to speak out and tell the truth. What I find sad is that Helen, in her desire to help Frank's kids, sacrificed her own children. I would be interested to know how much she was aware of. I wonder if she actually knew, possibly suspected, or was completely in the dark about the abuse the children were suffering. I also understand the mind-set from that era- to have the perfect family. That was so common in the 50's and 60's, and most families were hesitant to allow others to see any faults. Many who were raised that way have trouble allowing their faults to show. That may be why Tom's siblings are having trouble allowing the public to know that the perfect family is not so perfect after all.

    I'm Rebecca Webb and I can be reached via e-mail at:

    Here's my Homepage.