The Great Gildersleeve
Even though the change of lead actors in The Great Gildersleeve didn’t necessarily affect the show negatively, by 1952, cracks were beginning to show in the classic program. Characters who were essentially show staples, like Judge Hooker and Gildy’s niece, Marjorie, appeared less and less, sometimes for months. Other characters were introduced almost randomly, including Mrs. Potter, who suffered from hypochondria, and the egg man, Mr. Cooley, but none really stuck. A shift in focus occurred in 1953 from the general family/town comedy of before to almost exclusively focusing on Gildy’s love life.
The Great Gildersleeve, though on for 16 total years, did not make the fall schedule in 1954. When it finally did show up in November, the format had changed to 15-minute episodes every weeknight. Most of the characters the show was known for, except for Gildy, Leroy, and Birdie, were gone, along with the live audience and orchestra. Even though the shows would go to an earlier time and go to 25 minutes later in 1955, the other changes remained. Kraft Foods also stopped sponsoring the show in 1954, which led to several other sponsors until the show’s end in 1957.
In its sixteen year run, The Great Gildersleeve not only grew from what was simply a two dimensional character into a fully realized show. It also established a whole host of tropes that would influence situation comedies to come, most notably that of the rather crazy relative coming in a time of need to take care of children that aren’t his. It also refined some aspects of comedy, including giving a non-white character, Lillian Randolph’s Birdie, an important and even equalizing role to play amongst the cast. In the end, Gildersleeve will be remembered for much more than his unique laugh.
Visit Summerfield and laugh with and at The Great Gildersleeve in the ten original broadcasts in The Great Gildersleeve, Volume 41, complete with Kraft Foods commercials and restored to sparkling digital quality.
#541 Hobby Show
Wednesday, March 24, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#542 Gildy Involved With Two Girls Again
Wednesday, March 31, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#543 Marie Teaches Bronco French
Wednesday, April 7, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#544 Dinner Party for Bronco's Boss
Wednesday, April 14, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#545 Marie Olsen Charms Everyone
Wednesday, April 21, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#546 Gildy Swears Off Girls, but Meets Thelma
Wednesday, April 28, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#548 Dinner for Dr. Olsen Who's Leaving Town
Wednesday, May 12, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#549 Gildy Runs for Sheriff
Wednesday, May 19, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#550 Visit by Aunt Hattie
Wednesday, May 26, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
#551 Trying to End Aunt Hattie's Stay
Wednesday, June 2, 1954 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Kraft
Final show of the main series