Just in case you missed the first time . . .
- 6 June: D-Day On the Air—73 Years Later
- 31 December: Here’s to the New Year
- 24 December: ‘Tis the night before Christmas
- 20 December: From Macy’s to Dickens on the plains
- 12 December: Eden rocked
- 9 December: The aftermath, continued . . .
- 8 December: Immediate aftermath
- 7 December: The date still lives in infamy
- 5 December: The mean widdle man-kid
- 21 November: Freed fall
We’re building a history here . . .
Tag Archives: Fibber McGee & Molly
“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.
“With the need to ‘write funny’ no longer present because the episodes were pre-recorded in a studio,” Clair Schulz will write in Fibber McGee & Molly On the Air (1935-1959), “too many of the fifteen-minute Fibber McGee & Molly shows seem intent on developing a story that would continue the next day instead of making each episode amusing and rewarding.”
That would be true now and then but not in the larger picture. The shift to the fifteen-minute dailies probably seemed jarring at first to listeners who couldn’t accept the unfamiliarity of new announcer John Wald, the departure of several supporting characters other than Teeny, Dr. Gamble, Wallace Wimpole, and the Old-Timer, or the absence of the long familiar music interludes.
Fibber McGee & Molly has been remarkably effective in putting over wartime issue stories other comedies often stumble to deliver, largely because the first couple of 79 Wistful Vista and their master writer Don Quinn avoid lapses into blatant propaganda. And, with the full consent and support of their sponsor.
They were as homey in person as they sounded.
—Harold Peary, their former cast member, about Jim and Marian Jordan, a.k.a. Fibber McGee & Molly.
Fibber McGee & Molly‘s “lasting charm, however,” Gerald Nachman has written of them (in Raised on Radio), “was in the unspoken but enduring affection Fibber and Molly seemed to feel toward each other despite his stubborn fulminations and her skeptical Irish nature . . . Molly forgave McGee his every illusion and self-delusion, waiting for ‘Himself’ to calm down and admit what a jerk he’d been. Surpassing all the other husband-and-wife comedy teams, perhaps including even George Burns and Gracie Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly were radio’s most identifiably loving couple.”
When rummaging through the archive of this journal, a correspondent wrote me cheerfully enough to say: “Too much Fibber McGee & Molly.” Which struck me as being along the line of a blues lover’s collection bearing “too much” Muddy Waters or B.B. King; or, a jazz lover’s collection bearing “too much” Duke Ellington or Miles Davis.
Everybody‘s a critic.