Tag Archives: Gale Gordon

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.

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20 September: The great howdunit

Bill Forman, who made a deceptively imposing Whistler. (Photo: CBS.)

Bill Forman, who made a deceptively imposing Whistler. (Photo: CBS.)

Twenty-first century old-time radio lovers may not realise The Whistler was never a truly national phenomenon. The CBS crime drama was almost strictly a western U.S. phenomenon thanks to its sponsor, Signal Oil, doing business in the west alone.

Only twice did The Whistler get a crack at a listenership beyond the west, when Campbell Soup sponsored it in the midwest and the east during the summer of 1946, as a replacement for its moderately successful Jack Carson Show; and, when Household Finance Company (HFC) picked it up from March 1947 through the end of September 1948.

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4 March: Miss Brooks’s measured climb

Eve Arden (center) rehearses with Richard Crenna (left) and Gale Gordon (right). (Photo: CBS.)

Eve Arden (center) rehearses with Richard Crenna (left) and Gale Gordon (right). (Photo: CBS.)

It’s not that anyone is going to complain, mind you. But maybe, just maybe, network radio’s most beloved high school English teacher might be even more of a hit—even allowing that television is now cutting radio ratings severely—with a slightly more advantageous scheduling.

Since luring Amos ‘n’ Andy and Jack Benny from NBC, CBS has built a formidable Sunday night lineup. Putting Eve Arden’s cheerfully sardonic but hopelessly romantic English teacher on Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. after Our Miss Brooks spent 1948 rounding into shape didn’t exactly get her suspended from school—she finished 1949-50 with an 11.0 Hooper, enough to secure her seventh place on Sunday night—but CBS could have provided her a powerful choice of lead-ins.

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Schnozzy and Harriet: Old-time radio listening, 20 March

Our Miss Brooks: The Poetry Mix-Up (CBS, 1949)

Richard Crenna (left) and Gloria McMillan. (Photo: CBS)

Richard Crenna (left) and Gloria McMillan. (Photo: CBS)

Following the money is easier, probably, than following a paper trail of Harriet Conklin’s secret admirers:

Nasal Walter (Richard Crenna) is glum because paramour Harriet (Gloria McMillan) has been receiving anonymous love poems. Three suspects emerge surprisingly enough, with three different such poems going to three wrong recipients . . . and Harriet herself thinks one wrong sender is her secret admirer. Hint: he’s recently, and conspicuously enough, borrowed a copy of Cyrano de Bergerac from the Madison High library.

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Gale force: Old-time radio listening, 8 January

If you want to forge a case that Gale Gordon is old-time radio’s premiere slow-burning, pomposity-powered blowhard, you’d have a difficult time finding more solid evidence than the following three entries.

You’d also have a difficult time finding better evidence that, somewhere within the runups to the explosions, there is one of the greatest supporting actors network radio has 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.

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