March 21, 2002

Walter Tetley

Hello Kindred Spirit!

This morning, after listening to an episode of The Great Gildersleeve, I logged onto the computer to look for information about a couple of cast members. Luckily, I found you terrific site dedicated to Walter Tetley. Often I convince myself that nobody cares about these great near-forgotten voices of the past or that the only people who do give them a second thought are in their 70s. Then I find out about someone like you and I think the world is just a little better place.

Your site is great -- and I know Walter would be absolutely tickled to know he is remembered and that his work survives and is enjoyed. Recently I came into possession of all known-surviving episodes of the Gildersleeve radio program on CDs -- after spending a decade collecting them bit by bit on cassette. So I can get a good dose of Walter -- and other great voices, like Athur Q. Bryan -- any time I want.

Thanks again for your site -- and for keeping Walter's memory alive.

All my best.

Chris Mosher

Well, I too am tickled that you enjoyed this site so much, and that you think that Walter would too. Since I never got to meet him, or correspond with him, I think that that's the least that I can do. I have become much more of a fan of radio comedy, than I ever was, through the Gildersleeve and Phil Harris/Alice Faye shows that I have listened to (though I admit, when I was born, radio was already long gone, as I was born right before the dawning of 1960).

Brian

Brian:

I, too, am an after-radio guy -- born in late 1963. I got hooked on old radio programs after hearing, by chance, a Jack Benny program about a decade ago. Since then I have become an avid collector -- my collection now numbers about 2,500 programs with Fibber McGee and Molly and Gildy being my favorites and the ones I have the greatest number of. I have a few Phil Harris/Alice Faye programs -- probably 20 or so. I think by far the funniest Harris/Faye shows are the ones where Walter is given a prominent role.

Yes, I talk about that in Walter's Radio Career Part 2. I'm truly grateful for the person who sent me roughly 55 copies of that radio show. I can't help but be honest, though; I did think The Great Gildesleeve was funnier.

I too wish I could have met Walter and some of the other radio stars I have come to admire. I wish that they could know that today -- many, many years after they were so well known -- their work is still enjoyed. I'm sure you have seen in your research that Jim Jordan (Fibber McGee) died in 1988 or '89. And of course Phil Harris died in 1995. Sad that they were mostly forgotten when they had once made the whole country laugh. Just think of the role these stars and their programs played in getting the country through WWII!

And Alice Faye died in 1998. Phil was about 91 and Alice was around 83. It's nice since he was quite a bit older than her (about 11 years older), that she did not have to live a long, long time, without her husband.

I think for some of these folks, they disappeared into the cracks of the woodworks, and into oblivion, after radio died. Walter turned to cartoons and commercials after radio. Given the composite of his appearance and voice, he was no longer a shoe-in for movie roles, as he was in the 30s and the 40s, when he could still pass for a kid. So since Tetley went from being practically a household name, to being largely forgotten, I would hope that he would feel honored that he was remembered again. He lived over 20 years, after radio entertainment was obsolete.

Was Walter ever married? Did he have children who may still be alive today?

His death certificate points to the fact that he was single, as far as I recall. You have to wonder about his dating life. On our sound bites, there is one short bite, in which he chats with one of his co-stars from the Great Gildersleeve, and mentions that he has a girlfriend (this was when the show was temporarily put on hold, and they were just entertaining the audience). I'm guessing, with a voice and physique, like what he had, that he was not an automatic lady's man. But then, what does that matter? As the old adage says: There's someone for everyone.

Brian