Tag Archives: Phil Leslie

9 November: The extended lives of Fibber and Molly

 

Jim & Marian Jordan, the irrepressible McGees . . . (Photo: NBC.)

Jim & Marian Jordan, the irrepressible McGees . . . (Photo: NBC.)

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.”

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7 April: “Too much” McGee?

The irrepressible Jordans as the irrepressible McGees. (Photo: NBC.)

The irrepressible Jordans as the irrepressible McGees. (Photo: NBC.)

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.

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6 April: The Gamble who pays off big for the McGees

Arthur Q. Bryan (right), the irrepressible Dr. Gamble, with Jim and Marian Jordan. (Photo: NBC.)

Arthur Q. Bryan (right), the irrepressible Dr. Gamble, with Jim and Marian Jordan. (Photo: NBC.)

It takes Elmer Fudd not just to step into a World War II breach on Fibber McGee & Molly seventy years ago tonight, but to instigate one of old-time radio’s most memorable in-show rivalries. All because two key cast members were leaving to go to war.

Gale Gordon as Mayor La Trivia has proven invaluable in replacing spun-off Harold Peary’s Gildersleeve as the pompous among Fibber McGee’s deflationists, though La Trivia, almost invariably, would end an encounter in a choked-blustery fuddle. And Bill Thompson, arguably the cast’s most valuable player, has held down three characters of near-equal value, if not near-equal popularity: the tall-tale-dragger Old Timer, the locquacious and half-indecipherable Nick Depopolous, and the smarmy Horatio K. Boomer.

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The War at 79 Wistful Vista: Old-time radio listening, 14 November

Fibber McGee & Molly: Fibber Attends Night School; a.k.a. Fibber and Molly Fight Inflation (NBC, 1944)

Fibber, Molly, and Johnson’s Wax, if not first then maybe best in World War II . . . (Photo: NBC, S.C. Johnson.)

Few if any old-time radio comedies were quite as accommodating in supporting the World War II effort as Fibber McGee & Molly, and with the full and uncompromised support of their longtime sponsor. That support didn’t begin or end with the show’s legendary D-Day broadcast, in which Jim and Marian Jordan, ever the McGees, turned over the entire half hour—which aired on the same day D-Day launched—to patriotically themed music, with only occasional interjections from the couple and one break-in from NBC News.

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Wistful vittles: Old-time radio listening, 23 October

 

Dining with disaster? (Photo: S.C. Johnson & Son/NBC)

There are those who believe the only thing better than one dinner date with the First Couple of 79 Wistful Vista is two such dinner dates—provided that you keep Fibber McGee as far from the kitchen as you keep a Dodger fan from a Giant fan, that is . . .

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