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The show was born during the post-Monkees era when, one night, writer Bernard Slade, who created The Flying Nun and later the hit play Same Time, Next Year, was watching the Johnny Carson show and the Cowsills came on. This family-turned-pop-group was formed in 1965 by Barbara, the mother; and her kids, Bob, Barry, Bill, John, Susan, and Paul. In 1967 and 1968, the Cowsills had hits with “Indian Lake,” “The Rain, the Park & Other Things,” and “Poor Baby.”
The show the Sound of Music was big right then, so Bernard Slade came up with the idea of creating a sitcom about a traveling family pop group. Initially his concept was to have the Cowsills play themselves, but then he met with them and discovered that none of them had any acting experience, and, worse still, only one family member had much personality. So Bernard decided to hire actors instead.