The Great Gildersleeve is not only a great radio comedy, it has two aspects that really makes it a series way ahead of their time. First, it was a spin-off program, having had its main character originally on a different series. In this instance, the main character of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve was originally on the Fibber McGee and Molly show. According to the Wikipedia entry (please see the link below), the character was introduced on October 3, 1939 (my birthday - not year!). The Great Gildersleeve debuted on the NBC Network on August 31, 1941. Second, the actor to play Gildersleeve (or Gildy) was replaced after a contract dispute. Harold Peary originated the role and played Gildy until a contract dispute moved him off the show. He was replaced by Willard Waterman. Harold Peary would star in the The Harold Peary Show, often known as Honest Harold.
The Great Gildersleeve is the story of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve - played by Harold Peary. Gildy is the self-important Water Commissioner in their town of Summerfield. A bachelor who was constantly on the look for that someone special, he lived in a house with his niece, Marjorie (played by radio great Lurene Tuttle) and nephew, Leroy (played by child voice star Walter Tetley). They are joined by Birdie (played by Lillian Randolph) as housekeeper and cook at the home. She is one of the more prominent African-American voice actors from these days of radio programming. One of Gildy's great nemeses is Judge Hooker, who plays a nearly constant foil for whatever they are trying to do. I have gone hot and cold on Gildersleeve over the years, but the more I listen to these episodes, the more I like them. I love hearing the Kraft ads (from the early years) and I am trying to listen to more of them.
Orlando Wetlands Park (Christmas, Florida) - November 1, 2014 - This is a wetlands for a water commission in Florida - so it makes sense for Gildy!
In the episode called Gildy Goes on a Diet (January 4, 1942), well....the title kinda says it all. Gildy goes on a diet. Gildersleeve decided that he wanted to take on a New Year's Resolution to lose wight. He also gave up cigars, but that decision was driven by horrible cigars given to him for Christmas by Marjorie. So he was all set to make a big start of the year for healthy living, when Judge Hooker finds out and bets that he cannot lose 10 lbs in a week. The wager between Gildy and Judge Hooker was $100 (which would be around $1450 in 2014 dollars). And things were going well, until it appeared that Gildy was GAINING weight - not losing it. This episode was from the first season of The Great Gildersleeve on NBC radio.
This is a fun episode - especially for people who are struggling with a diet these days. Coming next week - I am going to start working on my Old Time Radio Lighthouse Series! It is going to be great!
Gildy Goes on a Diet (January 4, 1942)
Here are some links to programs relating to The Great Gildersleve:
- The Great Gildersleeve radio program episodes via the Internet Archive
- The Great Gildersleeve radio program episodes via the Internet Archive (alternative - with more episodes)
- The Great Gildersleeve on Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs
- The Great Gildersleeve from the RadioGOLDINdex
- The Great Gildersleeve from Elizabeth Thomsen's Pursuits
- The Great Gildersleeve page on the Wikipedia
- Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#82)
- Here are all of my Old Time Radio Blog Entries