May 03, 2003

Peabody's Pony Express

Brian,

Hello again! I took a look at your Walter Tetley shrine for the first time in quite a while. I see you followed my suggestion and checked out Walter's career as Leroy and Julius and enjoyed it.

Well, I wish I could take total credit, for taking the ball and running with it..................but the credit really must go to the folks who sent me copies of the Gildersleeve and Phil Harris/Alice Faye episodes. By the way............would you know how to get in touch with Richard Giblin, who mailed me the Gildersleeve episodes? Two of the 180 episodes, that he sent me, have become corrupted and I can no longer listen to them. The email address, that I show for him, on his webpage, no longer works. Both Greg and I tried emailing him there, and our emails bounced back as non-deliverable. On the other hand..........maybe if I tell you which episodes, I can no longer listen to..............well, maybe even you could get me copies somehow.

I believe that the Gildersleeve show, sponsored by Kraft Foods, went off the air in spring 1954 as a half-hour radio sitcom. Willard Waterman fronted a season (or two) of the TV series in 1955 without Walter Tetley. The radio show continued, with multiple sponsors, as a daily "stripped" quarter-hour and a 25-minute show for a three more years (until 1957).

I knew about the TV show and that it lasted one season or two as a half-hour. I was not aware of these other things.

Phil's Harris's radio character had been developed on the Jack Benny program during the late 1930s and mid-1940s. That's also the source of Frankie Remley, Jack's (Phil's) left-handed guitar player. He was portrayed, off-mike, as a shady drunk. It is ironic that the real Frankie Remley failed the audition for the Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.

You mean "on the show", he was portrayed, off-mike, as a shady drunk (or in real life).

In my humble opinion, the writing on the Phil Harris show was nothing short of brilliant, expecially in the early (Rexall) years. By the time Elliott Lewis became Elliott Lewis, it was not quiet as good. If you haven't already heard it, listen to the 10/24/48 show in which Phil tries to save money by buying a whole steer..

Yes, I have listened to that. It's pretty funny; especially with Alice Faye's reactions. It seems to me that Gale Gordon is in that one too. As I say, in my articles about both radio shows, I liked The Great Gildersleeve better.

Elliott Lewis, who became Phil's Frankie Remley, was also one of the most talented men in radio. He began with bit-parts on the Jack Benny Program. He later acted straight roles and produced several shows including Suspense in the early 1950s.

Gale Gordon did a lot of radio, from the 1930s, but not much animation. He was starred in the Casebbok of Gregory Hood, a San Francisco detective circa 1946. Gordon co-starred in Lucille Ball's My Favorite Husband, which evolved into I Love Lucy on TV. Lucy and the writers wanted him for TV but he had career conflicts at the time. in my mind, his greatest role was a Madison High school's blow-hard principal Osgood Conklin in Our Miss Brooks (both radio and TV from 1948 to about 1958).

I like the one where Gale Gordon's character's cadillac ends up in his swimming pool, courtesy of Phil and Frankie (and his Lincoln is torn apart, after Phil and Frankie try to tow the cadillac out of the pool). I also loved Gale Gordon in several roles that he played on Gildersleeve:

1) Gildy's neighbor, Rumson Bullard
2) Dr. Hargrave (a competing town doctor to Dr. Pettibone)
3) sometimes he played Gildersleeve's boss (or other windbags and men who were authority figures).

If you want to explore another voice actor's career, try Alan Reed. He became Fred Flintstone after many years on Life with Luigi, Duffy's Tavern, and My Friend Irma.

Yes, I have read quite a bit about Alan Reed.

One more thing. that group photo of William Conrad and company, in western garb, was taken by character actor (and radio Gunsmoke regular) Harry Bartell at Knotts Berry Farm. It was part of a campaign to promote the radio cast for the TV series.

Good luck!