Tuesday, December 22, 2015

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 22 - Fibber McGee and Molly's Phonograph (1940)

Yesterday, I featured a Christmas episode from The Great Gildersleeve.  This did not feature the original Gildy - but his replacement, Willard Waterman.  So it is only fitting that today, I feature one of the many, many, many Christmas episodes from the series that spun off Gildersleeve - Fibber McGee and Molly.  And this one features Harold Peary in the role that he created - Fibber McGee and Molly's neighbor - Gildersleeve!  This series is one of the all-time classic radio comedies, running from 1935 through the fifties.  From the WMAQ studios in Chicago, Jim and Marian Jordan starred in over 1600 shows as their alter egos, though only a fraction survive today.  During the early years, they were sponsored by Johnson Wax, headquartered in nearby Racine, Wisconsin.  They were a staple of the NBC Network and one of the most famous voices from Old Time Radio.

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.

Musical Nostalgia (1970s and 1980s)
Old Albums (sorry - vinyl) at my brother's house.
They had one of the most famous addresses in all of popular culture. 79 Wistful Vista was their home for the entire run.  I heard that they never bothered to give Fibber McGee or Molly a job - so they could use artistic freedom to put them in any scenario possible!  That did not prevent them from getting an expensive item for the holidays - which is just what they did on this episode dating from Christmas Eve, 1940.

The story opens with Fibber McGee and Molly enjoying the time right before Christmas.  The cards were sent, the tree was up, the presents were wrapped...when something came to the door.  A package, addressed to their neighbor - one Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve.  Against Molly's better judgement, Fibber opened the package to discover that it was a combination radio and photograph player (probably similar to what families are getting this year with the re-discovered love of vinyl albums).  They tried it out - and Fibber immediately broke it.  What to do...what to do!

So off to the department store to buy Gildy a replacement.  They braved the crowds, the confused store walkers (played by the wonderful Mel Blanc), the salesman setting up payments (played by Gale Gordon) and Tenny (played also by Marian Jordan) who was hoping to get a bit of money from Fibber for a doll.  With the replacement in hand, they headed home to square everything with Gildersleeve!

Also on the show were Billy Mills and his orchestra and the King's Men singing Christmas songs.  A wonderful Christmas comedy from 1940.  I hope if electronics are under your Christmas tree, they last longer than one playing.

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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