Monday, December 21, 2015

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 21 - Great Gildersleeve and Leroy Alone for Christmas (1952)

One of the great radio comedies is The Great Gildersleeve, with the character created by Harold Peary for the Fibber McGee and Molly show.  Since I have already featured Harold Peary is his other show earlier in December, I thought I would showcase an episode featuring Willard Waterman in his stint as Gildy.  This is a great Christmas episode about all the panic and rush at the end of the Christmas season, and what really matters most of all (awwwww....).

This is the second year I have showcased different Old Time Radio programs for Christmas.  Here is a link to all the 2014 OTR Christmas entries.  If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  He does a great job of showcasing great holiday themed episodes, especially as we get closer to Christmas and the end of December.  I actually heard this driving the other week as part of the Frank Sinatra blocks that he setup to celebrate the centennial of his birth.

Holland-Fawcett Family Christmas Party (2015)
Who is coming to your house for Christmas?
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 in September 1950. 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.

On Christmas Eve, 1952, Gildy finds the house mostly empty with just he and his nephew Leroy there with Bertie, their housekeeper.  Marjorie with her husband and their twins are away for Christmas and everyone felt how empty the house felt.  As was the norm, they were busy decorating the Christmas tree on the 24th when Gildersleeve realized what could make up for the quiet.  Why he will go to the store and get Leroy one more gift.  Upon arriving at the store, Gildy discovered that Leroy had the same idea.  But in the end, they did get the best gift of all.  The episode features some lovely choral numbers from The Kraft Choristers.  I hope your house is full this holiday season - enjoy.
25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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