Marcus Welby, M.D. is a popular medical drama that aired on ABC from September 23, 1969 to July 29, 1976. It starred Robert Young (of Father Knows Best fame) as the title character, a family practitioner with a kind bedside manner, and was produced by David Victor and David J. O'Connell. The pilot aired as an ABC Movie of the Week on March 26, 1969.
The doctors worked alongside each other in their private practice in Southern California, regularly working in conjunction with the nearby Lang Memorial Hospital. At the office, their loyal secretary-nurse and friend was Consuelo Lopez (Elena Verdugo). Other characters that appeared throughout the years included Dr. Welby's frequent girlfriend Myra Sherwood (Anne Baxter), his daughter Sandy and her son (first Christine Bellwood, then Anne Schedeen; and, Gavin Brendan), and Kathleen Faverty (Sharon Gless), another secretary. Dr. Kiley met and married public relations director Janet Blake (Pamela Hensley) in 1975, at the beginning of the show's last season on the air.
In one memorable 1974 episode, Young was reunited with his Father Knows Best co-star, Jane Wyatt; she played a fashion designer whose marriage to an embittered paraplegic led her to fall in love with the gentle doctor while keeping her marriage a secret most of the episode.
Its intelligent handling of many varied medical cases - some common, some uncommon - made it an instant hit for ABC. Storylines included depression, brain damage, breast cancer, mononucleosis, venereal disease, epilepsy, leukemia, dysautonomia, rape, and addiction to painkillers, among others. At its second season (1970–1971), it ranked #1 in the Nielsen Ratings, becoming the first ABC show to top the list. The same year, both Young and Brolin won Emmy Awards for their work, as did the show for Outstanding Dramatic Series. Young won a Golden Globe in 1972 for his performance.
The show found itself the center of protests and controversy (including an office sit-in by gay activists) when a leaked script about a homosexual teacher molesting a student was considered to conflate homosexuality with child molestation. The network yielded, and pledged to be more sensitive in the future, and the momentum from the incident helped lead to the later formation of the gay media watchdog group GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).