8 January: A Gale force


Gale Gordon. (Photo: NBC.)

Gale Gordon. (Photo: NBC.)

The last thing in the world I should have done was go into the theater because was inordinately shy as a young man,” Gale Gordon—perhaps old-time radio’s most mellifluous blowhard—once said. “I couldn’t open my mouth. At a party, I was the one stuck up against the wall. I was embarrassed about talking. I felt that I couldn’t talk well.”

Tonight we give you three radio episodes that display as well as anything he ever did how profoundly Gordon—whose blowhards such as Mayor La Trivia, Osgood Conklin, and sponsor Scott (The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show)a—overcame that inordinate shyness. But they also present impeccable evidence that, somewhere in the direct run-ups to such classic explosions, is one of the greatest supporting actors radio has ever known.


Fibber McGee & Molly: Fibber Wants to Win a Bean Counting Contest (NBC, 1946)

Kremer’s Drug Store is holding the contest, the proprietor’s mother-in-law won last year’s contest, and McGee (Jim Jordan) thinks he can win it scientifically with his own similar bowl and bean counting at home—never mind who might think he’s full of beans.

The classic confrontation: McGee versus La Trivia (Gale Gordon) as regards pi vs. pie. Beware of coming away pie-eyed from it.

Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. Mrs: Carstairs: Bea Benaderet. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.

Our Miss Brooks: Board of Education Day (CBS, 1950)

A self-serving school paper editorial written by Conklin (Gordon), a suddenly-useful cannon, a cut-and-paste mixup between Conklin’s original editorial and dimwitted sports star Stretch Snodgrass’s (Leonard Smith) half-witted biology paper, and an unexpected (but very temporary) spell of deafness, equal one of the blustery principal’s most explosively memorable among his and Madison High’s horrible days.

Connie: Eve Arden. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Announcer: Bob LaMond. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Writer/director: Al Lewis.

The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show: Red Paint on the Poodle (NBC, 1950)

Sponsor Scott (Gordon) has plenty of reason to burn numerous shades of red, none too slowly: Phil (Harris) and Remley (Elliott Lewis) have a none-too-minor accident while the Harrises house-sit the Scotts’ pampered poodle. And it ain’t easy, Clyde.

Herself: Alice Faye. Willie: Robert North. Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Walter Scharf , Phil Harris Orchestra. Director: Paul Phillips. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.


Further Channel Surfing . . .

The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (comedy; NBC, 1939)
The Jack Carson Show: Movie Magazine Interview (comedy; CBS, 1947)
The Whistler: Return to Riondo (crime drama; CBS, 1950)

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