A long-dead TV show forced Soylent Green to change its name

‘Make Room for Daddy’ is probably not a name that will stick in the consciousness of anyone under the age of 60. ‘Make Room for Daddy’ was the title of ‘The Danny Thomas Show’ during its first three seasons from 1953 through 1956. The show was about a very Danny Thomas-esque character named Danny Williams (Thomas) and his inability to juggle with an entertainment career (he performed regularly at the Copacabana club) and a family in the suburbs. Jean Hagen played Danny’s long-suffering wife in those first three seasons.

“The Danny Thomas Show” wasn’t canceled until 1963, so it may still have been in the public’s memory by the time Harry Harrison’s “Make Room! Make Room!” was published. So perhaps with a little imagination you can understand why Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer decided to call the film ‘Soylent Green’ instead. Harrison was quoted as saying:

“When (actor) Chuck Connors got his (copy of my book), he shouted across the set to the director, ‘Hey, Dick, why don’t you use this title instead of the crappy ‘Soylent Green?'” which Fleischer may not have known, the decision made in high places was that my title could be associated with a long-dead TV series called “Make Room for Daddy.” Moral: If you throw away a good title, you always get a bad one.”

Harrison had many reasons to be bitter about the production of “Soylent Green.” It appears that not only did MGM make many changes to his book without asking permission (the cannibalism angle did not appear in Harrison’s book), but they also tried to extort money from the author through a byzantine maze of red tape and shell companies. Harrison remembered the entire ordeal.