The Great Gildersleeve
"Well, now...I wouldn't say that..."
August 31, 1941 is considered an important date in the history of the Golden Age of Radio -- for it was on this very day that Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, neighbor and nemesis to Wistful Vista's famous son Fibber McGee, bid goodbye to his employees at his successful girdle works company and hopped a freight to nearby Summerfield to supervise the estate of his deceased sister's orphaned children, Marjorie (played at various times by Lurene Tuttle, Louise Erickson and Mary Lee Robb) and Leroy Forrester (Walter Tetley). Except for a handful of guest appearances, Harold (Hal) Peary -- the actor who played the pompous Gildersleeve -- ceased to be a Fibber McGee & Molly regular (he had been playing Gildy on that program since 1939), having secured a successful spin-off entitled "The Great Gildersleeve".
"The Great Gildersleeve" became one of radio's most successful situation comedies, and nearly fifty years after it left the airwaves, it continues to be a favorite among old-time radio fans. It was distinctive in that the series placed a strong emphasis on character-driven comedy, as opposed to the vaudeville-based slapstick of its parent show, "Fibber McGee & Molly." As portrayed by Peary, the Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve character -- who, on "Fibber McGee", had a pronounced larcenous streak -- mellowed considerably, settling into the comfortable role of kind and loving uncle to his niece and nephew. Assisted in the running the household by housekeeper Birdie Lee Coggins (Lillian Randolph), Gildy secured steady employment as Summerfield's water commissioner and found a brand-new circle of friends, including town druggist Richard Q. Peavey (Richard LeGrand, Forrest Lewis), wise-cracking barber Floyd Munson (Arthur Q. Bryan), dedicated police chief Charlie Gates (Ken Christy) and the cantankerous Judge Horace Hooker (Earle Ross). The Great Man also became notorious as Summerfield's most eligible bachelor, romancing such women as flirtatious Southern belle Leila Ransom (Shirley Mitchell), her equally coquettish cousin Adeline Fairchild (Una Merkel), schoolteacher Eve Goodwin (Bea Benaderet) and nurse Kathryn Milford (Cathy Lewis) -- just to name a few of the many.
"The Great Gildersleeve" also distinguished itself as a sitcom that embraced a semi-serialized format; one in which its weekly comic situations were set against a background of a continuous story arc. For example, during the 1943-44 season Gildy romanced the aforementioned Eve Goodwin while actively campaigning to be Summerfield's mayor. Broadcasts during 1948 and 1949 found our hero discovering an abandoned baby in his car and his attempts to adopt same until the child was claimed by the infant's real parents provided much of the material for that season. (It is interesting to note that Gildersleeve scribe John Whedon, a contributor to the program in its early years, is the grandfather of Joss Whedon -- who utilized a similar story arc technique as creator-writer of television's popular "Buffy the Vampire Slayer.")
One of the most engaging plotlines of the Gildersleeve series was launched with a broadcast from October 5, 1949, in which Gildy and girlfriend Kathryn Milford went on a double-date with his niece Marjorie and her new boyfriend Walter J. "Bronco" Thompson (Richard Crenna). Marjorie had had a lengthy succession of boyfriends since the series' inception (Oliver Honeywell, "Bashful Ben' Waterford, Marshall Bullard, etc.), but Bronco turned out to have staying power in spades. He would propose to Gildy's niece on December 21, 1949, and in the episodes to follow, much hilarity surfaced from the conflicts that arose between Gildersleeve and Bronco's domineering mother (played by Jeanette Nolan) and absent-minded father (Joe Forte, Joseph Kearns). The young lovers finally tied the knot on May 10, 1950 and the nuptials were heavily promoted by the show's sponsor, Kraft Foods, and the National Broadcasting Company -- a five-page spread was prominently featured in the May 23rd issue of Look magazine, entitled "Gildersleeve Gives the Bride Away." Ironically, this would be the last season for the original Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, Hal Peary. (Peary had signed a contract with NBC's rival, the Columbia Broadcasting System, thinking that his show would follow -- but when Kraft Foods decided to stay put, the Tiffany network created a Gildersleeve derivative for its new star entitled "Honest Harold.") With the departure of Hal Peary, actor Willard Waterman was hired to continue on in the Gildersleeve role and, apart from a few nitpicking details (Waterman was not the vocalist that Peary was, and Gildy's "singing" occasionally had to be performed by someone else). his voice was virtually indistinguishable from that of his predecessor.
The success of "The Great Gildersleeve" paved the way for future successful radio spin-offs -- for example, "A Day in the Life of Dennis Day" and "The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show," both featuring performers from "The Jack Benny Program." (Gildersleeve's parent show, "Fibber McGee & Molly," even gave birth to a second sitcom starring the McGee's sassy domestic, Beulah.) So sit back and enjoy the ten original broadcasts offered in this collection, transferred directly from original 16" NBC Orthacoustic master recordings and presented exactly as broadcast, complete with commercials for Kraft Foods.
#418 Marjorie and Bronco Decide Which Lot to Buy
Wednesday, November 14, 1951 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#419 Inviting Thanksgiving Guests
Wednesday, November 21, 1951 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#420 Getting Leroy to Study and Grow Up
Wednesday, November 28, 1951 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#469 Gildersleeve Versus Golf
Wednesday, November 5, 1952 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#470 Problems with Leroy’s Teacher
Wednesday, November 12, 1952 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#471 Leroy’s Gift
Wednesday, November 19, 1952 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#472 Miss Grace Tuttle and Bird Watching
Wednesday, November 26, 1952 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#473 The Birthday Duck Dinner
Wednesday, December 3, 1952 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#474 Leroy's Part Time Employment
Wednesday, December 10, 1952 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#475 Grace Tuttle’s Brother Sydney
Wednesday, December 17, 1952 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft