Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Very VINTRAD Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we here at VINTRAD urge you to slow down, pause a few moments and take stock in what you're truly thankful for.

The three R's: Reflect, Remember and Reminisce on all of the wonderful blessings that life has to offer. Family, friends and of course, old time radio.

We are thankful for all of the fans and friends of VINTRAD and would like to personally thank each and every one of you for your continued support. Thank you for allowing us to share our love of vintage old-time radio with you.

Thank YOU!

Linked above is a great collection of 100 Thanksgiving themed old time radio programs found on Archive.org.

Here is the direct link.

Enjoy and have a very VINTRAD Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Abbott and Costello: "Thanksgiving Day"

William "Bud" Abbott and Lou Costello (born Louis Francis Cristillo), were an American comedy duo whose work in vaudeville and on stage, radio, film and television made them the most popular comedy team during the 1940s and early 1950s. Their patter routine "Who's on First?" is considered one of the greatest comedy routines of all time and set the framework for many of their best-known comedy bits.

 The team's first known radio appearance was on The Kate Smith Hour in February 1938. Initially, the similarities between their voices made it difficult for listeners (as opposed to stage audiences) to tell them apart due to their rapid-fire repartee. The problem was solved by having Costello affect a high-pitched childish voice. "Who's on First?" was first performed for a national radio audience the following month. They stayed on the program as regulars for two years, while landing roles in a Broadway revue, The Streets of Paris, in 1939.

In 1940 Universal Studios signed them for the film One Night in the Tropics. Cast in supporting roles, they stole the show with several classic routines, including "Who's on First?" The same year they were a summer replacement on radio for Fred Allen. Two years later, they had their own NBC show.

After working as Allen's summer replacement, Abbott and Costello joined Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on The Chase and Sanborn Hour in 1941, while two of their films (Buck Privates and Hold That Ghost) were adapted for Lux Radio Theater. They launched their own weekly show October 8, 1942, sponsored by Camel cigarettes.

The Abbott and Costello Show mixed comedy with musical interludes (by vocalists such as Connie Haines, Ashley Eustis, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Skinnay Ennis, and the Les Baxter Singers). Regulars and semi-regulars on the show included Artie Auerbach ("Mr. Kitzel"), Elvia Allman, Iris Adrian, Mel Blanc, Wally Brown, Sharon Douglas, Verna Felton, Sidney Fields, Frank Nelson, Martha Wentworth, and Benay Venuta. Ken Niles was the show's longtime announcer, doubling as an exasperated foil to Abbott and Costello's mishaps (and often fuming in character as Costello routinely insulted his on-air wife). Niles was succeeded by Michael Roy, with announcing chores also handled over the years by Frank Bingman and Jim Doyle. The show went through several orchestras during its radio life, including those of Ennis, Charles Hoff, Matty Matlock, Matty Malneck, Jack Meakin, Will Osborne, Fred Rich, Leith Stevens, and Peter van Steeden. The show's writers included Howard Harris, Hal Fimberg, Parke Levy, Don Prindle, Eddie Cherkose (later known as Eddie Maxwell), Leonard B. Stern, Martin Ragaway, Paul Conlan, and Eddie Forman, as well as producer Martin Gosch. Sound effects were handled primarily by Floyd Caton. Guest stars were plentiful, including Frank Sinatra, The Andrews Sisters, and Lucille Ball.

In 1947 Abbott and Costello moved the show to ABC (the former NBC Blue Network). During their time on ABC, the duo also hosted a 30-minute children's radio program (The Abbott and Costello Children's Show),which aired Saturday mornings, featuring child vocalist Anna Mae Slaughter and child announcer Johnny McGovern.

More on Abbott and Costello at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_and_Costello

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gunsmoke: Turkey Shoot

Gunsmoke is one of those long-running classic Old-Time Radio shows that everyone knows and remembers. It's also one that is still respected for its high values, in all aspects. Gunsmoke first aired on the CBS network on April 26, 1952, billed as the first adult western. It was set in Dodge City, Kansas in the 1870's.

The main character, Matt Dillon, was played by William Conrad. On August 6, 1951, William Conrad played the lead in a show entitled "Pagosa" in the series Romance, where he played the part of a reluctant sheriff in a tough Western town. Although not a true audition, Conrad's character role is very close the that of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke. It was one of the "stepping stones" toward the production of Gunsmoke.

Other regular characters were Chester Proudfoot, played by Parley Baer; Kitty, played by Georgia Ellis; and Doc Adams, played by Howard McNear.

The series featured top-notch acting and well-developed scripts that set it apart from many other shows, not only Westerns; however, it was the sound effects that stood out the most. Listen carefully and one can hear many levels of sound that really helps transport the listener back to the old west.

Besides the US version, there was an Austrailian production of Gunsmoke. It began sometime in 1955, transcribed under the Artransa label, and aired Mondays at 7:00 PM on the Macquarie network. It is not known how many shows aired or how long the series ran.

Not long after the radio show began, there was talk of adapting it to television. The TV series ran from September 10, 1955, to March 31, 1975, on CBS with 635 total episodes. The first twelve seasons aired Saturdays at 10:00, seasons thirteen through sixteen aired Mondays at 7:30 and the last four seasons aired Mondays at 8:00. It is the longest running, prime time series of the 20th century.

JOHN WAYNE introducing the first episode of 'GUNSMOKE' (September 1955)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Burns and Allen Show: Gracie Buys a Live Turkey

Burns and Allen, an American comedy duo consisting of George Burns and his wife, Gracie Allen, worked together as a comedy team in vaudeville, films, radio and television and achieved great success over four decades.

Burns and Allen met in 1922 and first performed together at the Hill Street Theatre in Newark, New Jersey, continued in small town vaudeville theaters, married in Cleveland on January 7, 1926, and moved up a notch when they signed with the Keith-Albee-Orpheum circuit in 1927.

 Burns wrote most of the material and played the straight man. Allen played a silly, addle-headed woman, a role often attributed to the "Dumb Dora" stereotype common in early 20th-century vaudeville comedy. Early on, the team had played the opposite roles until they noticed that the audience was laughing at Gracie's straight lines, so they made the change. In later years, each attributed their success to the other.

In 1929 they made their first radio appearance in London on the BBC. Back in America, they failed at a 1930 NBC audition. After a solo appearance by Gracie on Eddie Cantor's radio show, they were heard together on Rudy Vallee's The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour and on February 15, 1932 they became regulars on The Guy Lombardo Show on CBS. When Lombardo switched to NBC, Burns and Allen took over his CBS spot with The Adventures of Gracie beginning September 19, 1934.

Along the way, the duo launched the temporary running gag that made them near-irrevocable radio stars: the famous hunt for Gracie's "lost brother," which began on January 4, 1933 and eventually became a cross-network phenomenon. Gracie was also liable to turn up on other shows (especially those produced by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, which produced the Burns & Allen series) looking for her brother. Bad publicity after a bid by NBC to squelch the stunt---and an accidental mention by Rudy Vallee on his Fleischmann's Hour---helped the stunt continue, according to radio historian John Dunning's On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, which also mentioned that Gracie's real brother, a "publicity-shy accountant" living in San Francisco, went into hiding until the gag ran its course.

Burns and Allen followed this up with another stunt: "Gracie Allen for President." During the election year of 1940, Gracie represented the fictitious Surprise Party and advocated nonsense as part of her platform. The "campaign" was successful enough for Gracie to actually receive write-in votes on election day.

The title of their top-rated show changed to The Burns and Allen Show on September 26, 1936. One successful episode, Grandpa's 92nd Birthday, aired on 8 July 1940. In 1941 they moved from comedy patter into a successful sitcom format, continuing with shows on NBC and CBS until May 17, 1950. As in the early days of radio, the sponsor's name became the show title, such as Maxwell House Coffee Time (1945–49).

Burns and Allen had several regulars on radio, including Toby Reed, Gale Gordon, Bea Benaderet, Gracie's real-life friend Mary "Bubbles" Kelly, Ray Noble, singers Jimmy Cash and Tony Martin and actor/writer/director Elliott Lewis. The Sportsmen Quartet (appearing as "The Swantet" during the years the show was sponsored by Swan Soap) supplied songs and occasionally backed up Cash. Meredith Willson, Artie Shaw and announcers Bill Goodwin and Harry Von Zell, who were usually made a part of the evening's doings, often as additional comic foils for the duo.

 When The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, aka The Burns and Allen Show, began on CBS Television October 12, 1950, it was an immediate success. The show was originally staged live before a studio audience (during its first three months, it originated from the Mansfield Theatre in New York, then relocated to CBS' Columbia Square facilities in Los Angeles). Ever the businessman, Burns realized it would be more efficient to do the series on film (beginning in the fall of 1952); the half-hour episodes could then be syndicated. From that point on, the show was shot without a live audience present, however, each installment would be screened before an audience to provide live responses prior to the episodes being broadcast. With 291 episodes, the show had a long network run through 1958 and continued in syndicated reruns for years.

After the live series ended, the shows were filmed at General Service Studios. The sets were designed to look like their real-life residence, often using an establishing shot of the actual house at 312 Maple Drive in Beverly Hills, California. Although extensively remodelled, that house still exists today—including the study over the garage where George would "escape" from Gracie's illogical logic. Burns lived in that house for the rest of his life.

Challenge of the Yukon: Thanksgiving in the Wilderness

Challenge of the Yukon was a radio series that began on Detroit's station WXYZ (as had The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet), and an example of a Northern genre story. The series was first heard on February 3, 1938.

The title changed from Challenge of the Yukon to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon in November 1951, and remained under that name through the end of the series and into television. The program was an adventure series about Sergeant William Preston of the North-West Mounted Police and his lead sled dog, Yukon King, as they fought evildoers in the Northern wilderness during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. Preston, according to radio historian Jim Harmon, first joined the Mounties to capture his father's killer, and when he was successful he was promoted to sergeant. Preston worked under the command of Inspector Conrad, and in the early years was often assisted by a French-Canadian guide named Pierre.

 Preston's staunchest ally, who was arguably the true star of the show and indeed often did more work than he did, was the brave Alaskan husky, Yukon King. Typical plots involved the pair helping injured trappers, tracking down smugglers, or saving cabin dwellers from wolverines. Sergeant Preston's faithful steed was Rex, used primarily in the summer months, but generally Yukon King and his dog team were the key mode of transportation (as signaled by Preston's cry of "On, King! On, you huskies!)."

There is some confusion regarding King's actual breed. The writers seemed to use malamute and husky interchangeably. At least once, Preston answered "malamute" to the question from another character. In one radio episode Preston indicates King's mother had been a wolf, which would make him a wolfdog. In the early radio shows, the cry of "On, you huskies!" would alternate with "On, you malamutes" from show to show.

The theme music was Emil von Reznicek's overture to Donna Diana a now long-forgotten opera, though the overture remains a concert staple to this day. The show's episodes ended with the official pronouncement, Well, King, this case is closed.

Following the success of Lone Ranger and Green Hornet, George W. Trendle, the station owner, asked for a similar adventure show, but with a dog as the hero. According to WXYZ staffer Dick Osgood, in his history of the station, Trendle insisted that it not be "a dog like Lassie because.. this must be an action story. It had to be a working dog." Writer Tom Dougall, who had been influenced by the poems of Robert W. Service, naturally chose a Husky. The dog was originally called Mogo, but after criticism by Trendle, Dougall re-christened the canine King. Dougall likewise created Sgt. Preston and the French-Canadian guide. Fran Striker, who wrote for The Lone Ranger, also contributed scripts.

However, Trendle's criticism of Dougall may have had another reason behind it. Shortly before the two Trendle series aired (Lone Ranger and Challenge of the Yukon), popular author Zane Grey had a book in circulation (Lone Star Ranger) about a Texas Ranger like the Lone Ranger and a comic book series in circulation (King of the Royal Mounted) about the adventures of Sgt. King, a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman like Sgt. Preston. It could be that Trendle borrowed both ideas from Grey's work and wanted to retain the name "King" as a tribute to Grey, who died after a long illness one year following the first airing of Challenge of the Yukon.

Challenge of the Yukon began as a 15-minute serial, airing locally from 1938 until May 28, 1947. Shortly thereafter, the program acquired a sponsor, Quaker Oats, and the series, in a half-hour format, moved to the networks. The program aired on ABC from June 12, 1947, to December 30, 1949. It was then heard on The Mutual Broadcasting System from January 2, 1950, through the final broadcast on June 9, 1955. In November 1951, the title changed to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.

 Radio cast:

  Sgt. Preston – The part of Sgt. Preston was played by different actors over the course of the long run. Jay Michael, who had often played villain Butch Cavendish on The Lone Ranger, originated the role, and played the brave Mountie from 1938 through the mid 1940s. Former movie actor Paul Sutton took over the role, followed briefly by Brace Beemer when The Lone Ranger ended in 1954. Sutton took over again, however, by the time of the final broadcast.

Yukon King – The barks, whines, and howls of Yukon King were supplied by one of the station's sound effects men, Dewey Cole, and following Cole's death, by actor Ted Johnstone.

Narrator and supporting players – The original announcer/narrator was Bob Hite, also a narrator for the Lone Ranger, Green Hornet and The Shadow. Hite was replaced by former star Jay Michael when Sutton took over. Lone Ranger narrator Fred Foy also filled the role from time to time. John Todd was heard occasionally as Inspector Conrad, and Frank Russell played Pierre. Episodic performers came from the same talent pool as the other WXYZ shows.

From 1951 to 1958 Dell Comics published 29 issues of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. The first four issues appeared bi-annually, then quarterly, in the weekly catch-all series, Four Color Comics (#344,373,397,419), then assumed its own numbering with issue #5, most-often as a quarterly but also bi-monthly. All issues were written by Gaylord Du Bois (creator of Turok), and illustrated by Alberto Giolitti (best known as the long-time illustrator of Turok). The Dell comic book covers were paintings portraying drama or action, featuring Yukon King and Sergeant Preston in exciting scenes. Once the Sergeant Preston of the Yukon television series premiered, the comic book featured photo covers of the TV series star in character as Sergeant Preston.

 In 1955, the same year the radio show ended, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon premiered as a television series. Richard Simmons starred as Sgt. Preston, and was supported by Yukon King and Rex, now played by real animals. The dog cast as King was not a husky, however, but a large Alaskan Malamute. Charles Livingstone, who had worked on the radio version, directed several episodes. Though no plotlines seem to have been re-used from the radio show, they were generally built upon the same themes. The same few buildings were regularly seen as part of many settlements in the shows. The additional visual component of the snowy Yukon, however, did give the television version a different feel but like all such films when filmed on a stage set, the frosty breath of people in Arctic conditions could not be simulated. Generally, however, there was an outdoor feel though a few times shadows on the skyline could be seen. Genuine outdoor scenes were added to give the show some reality though the viewer could not help but notice a sameness to them as they were all filmed in the same area and reused at times.

Mainly filmed at Ashcroft, Colorado, the series was telecast on CBS from September 29, 1955, to September 25, 1958. The first two seasons were produced by Trendle-Campbell-Meurer, and the show was broadcast in the same time slot as ABC's The Lone Ranger. In its last season, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon was purchased and produced by the Jack Wrather Corporation.

In 1955, the Quaker Oats company gave away land in the Klondike as part of a promotional tie-in with the television show. Genuine deeds each to one square inch of a lot in Yukon Territory, issued by Klondike Big Inch Land Co. Inc., were inserted into Quaker's Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice cereal boxes.

Sergeant Preston comics online!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Life of Riley: Thanksgiving with the Gillis's

The Life of Riley, with William Bendix in the title role, is a popular American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film, a long-run 1950s television series (originally with Jackie Gleason as Riley for 1 truncated season, then with Bendix for 6 seasons), and a 1958 Dell comic book.
The show began as a proposed Groucho Marx radio series, The Flotsam Family, but the sponsor balked at what would have been essentially a straight head-of-household role for the comedian. (Groucho went on to host Blue Ribbon Town from 1943 to 1944 and then You Bet Your Life from 1947 to 1961.) Then producer Irving Brecher saw Bendix as taxicab company owner Tim McGuerin in Hal Roach's The McGuerins from Brooklyn (1942). The Flotsam Family was reworked with Bendix cast as blundering Chester A. Riley, a wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft plant in California. His frequent exclamation of indignation became one of the most famous catchphrases of the 1940s: "What a revoltin' development this is!" The radio series benefited from the immense popularity of a supporting character, Digby "Digger" O'Dell (John Brown), "the friendly undertaker."

The first Life of Riley radio show was a summer replacement show heard on CBS from April 12, 1941 to September 6, 1941. The CBS program starred Lionel Stander as J. Riley Farnsworth and had no real connection with the more famous series that followed a few years later.
The radio program starring William Bendix as Riley initially aired on the Blue Network, later known as ABC, from January 16, 1944 to June 8, 1945. Then it moved to NBC, where it was broadcast from September 8, 1945 to June 29, 1951. The supporting cast featured Paula Winslowe portraying Peg, Riley's wife, as well as John Brown, who portrayed not only undertaker "Digger" O'Dell but also Riley's co-worker Jim Gillis. (Brown also played the character of Waldo Binny.) Whereas Gillis gave Riley bad information that got him into trouble, Digger gave him good information that "helped him out of a hole," as he might have put it. Brown's lines as the undertaker were often repetitive, including puns based on his profession; but, thanks to Brown's delivery, the audience loved him. The program was broadcast live with a studio audience, most of whom were not aware Brown played both characters. As a result, when Digger delivered his first line, it was usually greeted with howls of laughter and applause from surprised audience members.

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mel Blanc - The Thanksgiving Show

Melvin Jerome "Mel" Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989) was an American voice actor and comedian. Although he began his nearly six-decade-long career performing in radio commercials, Blanc is best remembered for his work with Warner Bros. during the "Golden Age of American animation" (and later for Hanna-Barbera television productions) as the voice of such well-known characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Taz, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Woody Woodpecker, Barney Rubble, Mr. Spacely, Speed Buggy, Captain Caveman, Heathcliff, Speedy Gonzales, Tom and Jerry, and hundreds of others. Having earned the nickname “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” Blanc is regarded as one of the most influential people in the voice-acting industry.
At the time of his death, it was estimated that 20 million people heard his voice every day.

Blanc began his radio career in 1927 as a voice actor on the Portland, Oregon, KGW program The Hoot Owls, where his ability to provide voices for multiple characters first attracted attention. He moved to KEX in 1933 to produce and host his Cobweb And Nuts show, which debuted on June 15. The program played Monday through Saturday from 11:00 pm to midnight, and by the time the show ended two years later, it appeared from 10:30 pm to 11:00 pm.
Blanc moved to Warner Bros.-owned KFWB in Hollywood, California, in 1935. He joined The Johnny Murray Show, but the following year switched to CBS Radio and The Joe Penner Show. Blanc was a regular on the NBC Red Network show The Jack Benny Program in various roles, including voicing Benny's Maxwell automobile (in desperate need of a tune-up), violin teacher Professor LeBlanc, Polly the Parrot, Benny's pet polar bear Carmichael, the tormented department store clerk, and the train announcer.

One of Blanc's most memorable characters from Benny's radio (and later TV) programs was "Sy, the Little Mexican", who spoke one word at a time. The famous "Sí...Sy...sew...Sue" routine was so effective that no matter how many times it was performed, the laughter was always there, thanks to the comedic timing of Blanc and Benny.

At times, sharp-eyed audience members (and later, TV viewers) could see Benny struggling to keep a straight face; Blanc's absolute dead-pan delivery was a formidable challenge for him. Benny's daughter, Joan, recalls that Mel Blanc was one of her father's closest friends in real life, because "nobody else on the show could make him laugh the way Mel could."

Blanc's success on The Jack Benny Program led to his own radio show on the CBS Radio Network, The Mel Blanc Show, which ran from September 3, 1946, to June 24, 1947. Blanc played himself as the hapless owner of a fix-it shop, as well as his young cousin Zookie (who sounded quite a bit like Porky Pig). Many episodes required Mel to impersonate an exotic foreigner or other stranger in town, ostensibly for carrying out a minor deception on his girlfriend's father, but of course simply as a vehicle for him to show off his talents. Other regular characters were played by Mary Jane Croft, Joseph Kearns, Hans Conried, Alan Reed, Earle Ross, Jim Backus, Bea Benaderet and The Sportsmen Quartet, who would supply a song and sing the Colgate Tooth Powder commercials. (Blanc would later work with Reed and Benaderet on The Flintstones.) Shows usually adhered to a predictable formula, involving a date with his girl Betty Colby (Mary Jane Croft) and trying to either impress her father or at least avoid angering him. However, Mr. Colby (Earle Ross) usually had occasion to deliver his trademark line, "Mel Blanc, I'm going to break every bone in your body!"

For his contribution to radio, Mel Blanc has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Boulevard.

Blanc died on July 10, 1989 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California of heart disease and emphysema. He was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Blanc's will stated his desire to have the inscription on his gravestone read, "THAT'S ALL FOLKS," (the phrase was a trademark of the character Porky Pig, of whom, Blanc created the voice.

For a more in depth insight into the life of this fascinating man, check out his extensive wikipedia page.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our Miss Brooks: Thanksgiving Turkey

Our Miss Brooks is an American situation comedy starring Eve Arden as a sardonic high school English teacher. It began as a radio show broadcast on CBS from 1948 to 1957. When the show was adapted to television (1952–56), it became one of the medium's earliest hits. In 1956, the sitcom was adapted for the big screen in the film of the same name.

Our Miss Brooks was a hit on radio from the outset; within eight months of its launch as a regular series, the show landed several honors, including four for Eve Arden, who won polls in four individual publications of the time. Arden had actually been the third choice to play the title role. Harry Ackerman, at the time CBS's West Coast director of programming, wanted Shirley Booth for the part, but as he told historian Gerald Nachman many years later, he realized Booth was too focused on the underpaid downside of public school teaching at the time to have fun with the role.

Lucille Ball was believed to have been the next choice, but she was already committed to My Favorite Husband and didn't audition. Then CBS chairman Bill Paley, who was friendly with Arden, persuaded her to audition for the part. With a slightly rewritten audition script--Osgood Conklin, for example, was originally written as a school board president but was now written as the incoming new Madison principal--Arden agreed to give the newly-revamped show a try.

Produced by Larry Berns and written by director Al Lewis, Our Miss Brooks premiered on CBS July 19, 1948. According to radio critic John Crosby, her lines were very "feline" in dialogue scenes with principal Conklin and would-be boyfriend Boynton, with sharp, witty comebacks. The interplay between the cast--blustery Conklin, nebbishy Denton, accommodating Harriet, absentminded Mrs. Davis, clueless Boynton, scheming Miss Enright--also received positive reviews. Arden won a radio listeners' poll by Radio Mirror magazine as the top ranking comedienne of 1948-49, receiving her award at the end of an Our Miss Brooks broadcast that March. "I'm certainly going to try in the coming months to merit the honor you've bestowed upon me, because I understand that if I win this two years in a row, I get to keep Mr. Boynton," she joked. But she was also a hit with the critics; a winter 1949 poll of newspaper and magazine radio editors taken by Motion Picture Daily named her the year's best radio comedienne.

For its entire radio life, the show was sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive-Peet, promoting Palmolive soap, Lustre Creme shampoo and Toni hair care products. The radio series continued until 1957, a year after its television life ended. This content is now available under public domain for download at http://www.archive.org at http://www.archive.org/details/Our_Miss_Brooks_190_Episodes

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Great Gildersleeve - Thanksgiving Dinner (11/22/1942)

The Great Gildersleeve (1941–1957), initially written by Leonard Lewis Levinson, was one of broadcast history's earliest spin-off programs. Built around Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve, a character who had been a staple on the classic radio situation comedy Fibber McGee and Molly. First introduced to FMAM on 10/3/39 ep #216. The Great Gildersleeve enjoyed its greatest success in the 1940s. Actor Harold Peary played the character during its transition from the parent show into the spin-off and later in a quartet of feature films released at the height of the show's popularity.
On Fibber McGee and Molly, Peary's Gildersleeve was a pompous windbag who became a consistent McGee nemesis. "You're a haa-aa-aa-aard man, McGee!" became a Gildersleeve catchphrase.

The character was given several conflicting first names on Fibber McGee and Molly, and on one episode his middle name was revealed as Philharmonic. Gildy admits as much at the end of "Gildersleeve's Diary" on the Fibber McGee and Molly series (10/22/40).
He soon became so popular that Kraft Foods—looking primarily to promote its Parkay margarine spread — sponsored a new series with Peary's Gildersleeve as the central, slightly softened and slightly befuddled focus of a lively new family.

Actor Harold Peary was a much appreciated talent on the old radio series, "Fibber McGee and Molly". Over the course of time, he played a number of different characters, like a butcher or a delivery man. Eventually, the writers created the character of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve for Peary to portray. Stuffy "Gildy" was the next-door neighbor of the McGee's, so now Peary could portray the major plot point in some episodes. But even this major supporting role was not enough to contain the actor's talents. So in 1941, "The Great Gildersleeve" spun-off into his very own radio series.

With a dedicated program, Harold Peary and his writers greatly expanded the depths of the Gildersleeve character. The show ran for 13 years (1941-1954), with over 550 shows produced. There were also four "official" Gildersleeve movies, and Peary appeared as Gildersleeve in a number of other films. In the fifties there was a "Great Gildersleeve" TV series, which ran for one season and resulted in 39 episodes.

However, it was not Peary who appeared in the TV series. Back in 1950, Peary's agent saw an opportunity to better his client's deal. He moved Peary from NBC to CBS. Unfortunately, the agent didn't cover all the bases of the deal, as CBS found they could not put him on as "The Great Gildersleeve", NBC still owned the rights to the character. They got Peary but not "The Great Gildersleeve" program. So CBS created a different series for Peary to play in, titled "Honest Harold". Starting on September 6, 1950, Peary's old friend Willard Waterman continued the Gildersleeve character successfully for the remaining four years of its run, then onto the year-run of the television series. Harold Peary showed up two years after that as Mayor LaTrivia on the TV version of "Fibber McGee and Molly".

via Wikipedia and http://www.greatgildersleeve.net/