Open main menu

The Impossible Years is a 1965 comedy play and a 1968 movie, based on the play.

The play was written by Robert Fisher and Arthur Marx, son of famed comedian Groucho Marx. After two previews, the Broadway production, directed by Arthur Storch, opened on October 13, 1965 at the Playhouse Theatre, where it ran for 670 performances. The original cast included Alan King, Sudie Bond, Bert Convy, Neva Small, and Scott Glenn. Ed McMahon temporarily assumed the role of Dr. Jack Kingsley for eight performances from January 17, 1966 - January 22, 1966 so Alan King could honor a previously scheduled Miami night club engagement.

On August 22,1966. Sam Levene replaced Alan King in the starring role in the Broadway production of The Impossible Years, performing the role of Dr. Jack Kingsley, a psychiatrist, for 322 performances until the show closed, May 27, 1967 at the Playhouse Theatre. After the Broadway production closed, Sam Levene starred in the first U.S. national company production of The Impossible Years, and performed the hit comedy for the duration of 1967 until March 10, 1968 when Sam Levene's production closed at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, Baltimore. National tour stops included performances at New York's Mineola Theatre; Paper Mill Playhouse, Milburn, New Jersey; The Playhouse Theater, Wilmington; Royal Alexandria Theatre, Toronto; Fisher Theatre, Detroit; Shubert Theatre, Cincinnati; The National Theatre, Washington D.C.


The comedy revolves around Jonathan Kingsley, a teaching psychiatrist at the local university, his wife, and their two teenaged daughters. Complications arise when the older one develops an active interest in the opposite sex, and her younger, impressionable sister begins to emulate her misadventures.

Film adaptationEdit

The Impossible Years
Directed byMichael Gordon
Produced byLawrence Weingarten
Screenplay byGeorge Wells
Based onThe Impossible Years by Bob Fisher and Arthur Marx
StarringDavid Niven
Lola Albright
Chad Everett
Ozzie Nelson
Cristina Ferrare
Jeff Cooper
John Harding
Rich Chalet
Mike McGreevey
Darlene Carr
Don Beddoe
Music byDon Costa
CinematographyWilliam H. Daniels
Edited byJames E. Newcom
Marten Productions
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
December 5, 1968
Running time
98 minutes
Box office$5.8 million (North America)[1]

The 1968 film version, which premiered December 5, was adapted by George Wells and directed by Michael Gordon. It starred David Niven, Lola Albright, Chad Everett, Ozzie Nelson, Cristina Ferrare, Gale Dixon and Darlene Carr. The eponymous theme song was written by The Tokens and performed by The Cowsills.


Jonathan Kingsley is the teaching psychiatrist at the local university. He and wife Alice have two teenage daughters; their eldest, Linda, falls for Jonathan's teaching assistant Richard.



MGM bought the film rights to the play in 1965 for $350,000.[2] George Wells completed the script by March 1966.[3] MGM announced it for production in August 1966. The movie was greenlit by the team of Robert O'Brien and Robert M. Weitman.[4] Filming took place in October 1967.

At one stage, Peter Sellers was announced for the lead[5] but by May, David Niven had been signed. Christina Ferrare, who played Niven's nubile daughter, had been under contract to 20th Century Fox for a year.[6] The film featured the final movie performance of Ozzie Nelson.[7]


The movie was a hit, earning $5.8 million in rentals in North America.,[1] making it the 17th most popular movie at the US box office in 1969.[8] Nevertheless, critical reaction was overwhelmingly negative.[9]

In 1970, it was reported Jackie Cooper and Bob Finkel had written a pilot script for a TV adaptation of the play for NBC.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
  2. ^ 'Impossible Years' Has All Possible Comedy Ingredients Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Oct 1965: d13.
  3. ^ 'Impossible' Script Ready Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 31 Mar 1966: d17.
  4. ^ Top Role for Candy Bergen Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Aug 1966: c9.
  5. ^ MGM Plans 14 Films on 1967 Budget Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 25 Jan 1967: d10.
  6. ^ Cindy: She Came to Work, Not Play Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 Oct 1967: e15.
  7. ^ Roger Fristoe, "The Impossible Years", Turner Classic Monthly accessed 19 December 2014
  8. ^ "The World's Top Twenty Films." Sunday Times [London, England] 27 Sept. 1970: 27. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. accessed 5 Apr. 2014
  9. ^ The Wonder of Hollywood's Movie Decisions Champlin, Charles. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Feb 1969: t1.
  10. ^ Hairdresser Just for Julie, Warren Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Oct 1970: c18.

External linksEdit