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What TV's most popular dads earn
From Ricky Ricardo to Sandy Cohen, here's what 60 favorite dads would earn if they were, well, real.
June 16, 2005: 2:45 PM EDT
By Jeanne Sahadi, CNN/Money senior writer
Click here to see how the salaries of the most popular TV dads rank

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) It really pays to be a popular TV-show dad much more so today than in decades past.

When it comes to being a favorite father on the small screen, the paycheck and glamour factor of a character's job has increased over time, according to Salary.com, which released its TV Dad Salary Analysis in honor of Father's Day.

Today's TV dads average salaries of $195,000 after adjusting for inflation, according to Salary.com. By contrast, the favorite TV fathers of the 1950s made an average of about $75,000 a year in today's dollars.

The so-called typical TV father of today is less likely to be a dock foreman like Archie Bunker than he is likely to be a lawyer (Sandy Cohen of "The OC") or president of the United States (Jed Bartlett of "The West Wing").

But as the popularity of Ray Barone in "Everybody Loves Raymond" and Andy Sipowicz of "NYPD Blue" has demonstrated, there's still audience appeal for TV dads who are regular Joes.

In fact, "throughout the history of television, many of the most memorable and iconic dads are paid about the same," said Bill Coleman, Salary.com's senior vice president of compensation, in a statement.

By "about the same," he means a salary in the mid-40s, like Ward Cleaver of "Leave It To Beaver." As an accountant, Cleaver earned about $47,000 a year.

Salary.com analyzed the most popular shows that prominently feature a father character in each decade since 1950. It then matched the description of the character's occupation with a benchmark job title and salary for that title where the character lived.

When it wasn't exactly clear where a character lived, the national average for the title was used.

It's a highly imperfect art, though. Rob Petrie, for example, is a head comedy writer for television living in a suburb of New York City. But Salary.com's database doesn't track such a title. So his occupation was matched to "senior communications editor" -- not exactly a job that gets people rolling on the floor with laughter.

A few salaries are bound to raise eyebrows, too. According to Salary.com, Sandy Cohen of "The OC" would only pull down $113,780 as a lawyer in one of the priciest areas of the country. By contrast, Andy Taylor of "The Andy Griffith Show" would make $84,019 in the quaint southern town of Mayberry, North Carolina.

Then there's everyone's favorite tall, square-jawed, neck-bolt-sporting father, Herman Munster. He's a gravedigger, but Salary.com gave him a promotion, listing him as an undertaker making just over $47,000.

See the full list of 60 TV Dads.

What should your salary be?  Top of page

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