Situation comedy (1935-59)
This show is one of the cornerstones
of the old time radio experience. It spans several decades
in time, but remains timeless. It is a great achievement
in American entertainment, but holds a relatively
overlooked place in American popular culture, and
quickly failed on TV (59-60) without the Jordans.
For the lucky ones who heard it on radio, Fibber
McGee and Molly keeps a place near and dear
to the heart.
Jim and Marian Jordan were Fibber McGee
and Molly. Well trained by vaudeville and with some radio
under their belts, their show about a typical couple in
a typical town came on the radio in the mid- '30s. Fibber
was a man of many words, and they were nearly always funny.
He was superior at one-upsmanship and exasperating exaggeration,
and depending on which verbal sparring partner was at
hand, fully capable of making a fool of himself in the
most uncertain terms. Locals who indulged Fibber included
the Mayor LaTrivia (Gale Gordon), by name, whose short fuse was
easily ignited by the verbal sparks of Fibber .
Then there was their fine neighbor, Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve (Harold Peary) who was
so popular on the show that they developed a plot line
and spun off another great old time radio show (The
Great Gildersleeve). Wallace Wimple was the gentle
soul who loved birds, and his big old "Sweetieface".
The multi-voiced Bill Thompson played Wimple (from whence
wimp?), the "Old Timer," Nick the restaurateur,
and a reprobate names Horatio K. Boomer. Arthur Q. Bryan
(the voice of Elmer Fudd) was Doc Gamble. Dear Molly maintained
a very normal, happy and often genuinely amused outlook
as things developed around her. Isabel Randolph was the
socially-minded Mr. Abigail Uppington, who remained unused
to such commotion, although beneath her dignity was where
she really longed to be.
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Cast of Fibber McGee & Molly:
In the center, Jim and Marian Jordan
as Fibber and Molly; on the right
The King's Men; and Billy Mills,
musical director. On Molly's left:
Hal Peary as Gildersleeve;
Bill Thompson who played various characters;
Isabel Rudolph as Mrs. Uppington;
Harlow Wilcox, the announcer.
Harlow Wilcox was both the show's
announcer and a regular character who somehow would
weave his Johnson's Wax commercials into the plot,
so as to avoid a commercial break. Don Wilson did
the same "stealth" commercials for Jack
Benny with equally comic effect. The King's
Men was the featured vocal quartet on the show from
1940 - 1953. Besides The Great Gildersleeve, another spin-off series was Beulah.
Writer Don Quinn worked with the Jordans
right from vaudeville through their rise to popularity,
and helped them create their warm and wonderful
world. Phil Leslie took over the co-writing
chores in the mid-40s. Speaking of chores, Fibber's
still muttering, "gotta clean out that closet
one of these days…"
The newly updated collection also contains audio excerpts from "Smack Out" - very early broadcasts from the Jordans from 1931.