Comedy (1950 - 51)
Honest Harold was created by Harold
Peary after his departure from The
Great Gildersleeve in mid-1950. The role
of Gildersleeve was nearly perfectly filled by Willard
Waterman, and The
Great Gildersleeve show's fans seemed satisfied
with the change. It is hard to know if they resented
Peary's jettisoning of the Gildersleeve mantle,
but Peary had let it be known that he was bored
with the role. He had said goodbye, and his public
took him at his word.
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Unfortunately, he took many of Gildy's
characteristics along with him to glue to his new
Honest Harold character
laugh, singing songs, and closing dialogue over
credits were all there with Harold. And that voice.
Who could forget that voice? In simple terms, Peary
couldn't or wouldn't sound and act differently enough
to make listeners forget Gildy, and that made it
very tough for the new show to fly. Perhaps the
plot was a little creaky for the beginning of the
Rock'n'Roll era, as well. The show was about an
olyder, unmarried guy living with his mother, who
does a homemaker's show on a local radio station
in the Midwest. The townsfolk think of him as somewhat
of a celebrity, but his girlfriend, Gloria, who
works at the station, knows better. Gloria was played
by Peary's wife Gloria Holiday. Parley Baer, who
Chester, plays Pete, the Marshall of the town, and
Joseph Kearns is Old Doc "Yak Yak" Yancy.
At this point, it might be significant to note that
the director of the show was Norm Macdonnell, who
went on to create perhaps the greatest old time radio show - Gunsmoke, and
another western, Fort
Laramie. Of course, Norm was a sold radio
veteran who certainly had a flare for directing
comedy, so he and Peary, together with an excellent
cast, made Honest Harold just about as good
a show as it could be.
The response to the show was underwhelming,
although the authority John Dunning, says in his "On
the Air, The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio,"
"Despite the lack of rating power and the general
negative attitude of the critics, Harold was the near-equal
of Gildersleeve in several aspects. Shows on tape reveal
funny writing and well-drawn characters, and the supporting
cast and production crew were first-rate.", Fans
of Peary as Gildy and lovers of radio comedy would do
well to consider this complete show as a good addition
to a library of classic radio comedy.
Other radio situation comedy shows of
this type are Life with
Luigi, The Mel Blanc Show,
My Favorite Husband,
Ozzie and Harriet, The
Life of Riley, The Aldrich
Family, Easy Aces, Duffy's
Tavern, The Adventures of Maisie
and Our Miss Brooks.
Some other recognized classics of the genre are Fibber
McGee and Molly, The Jack
Benny Show, Amos and Andy,
Vic and Sade, Burns
and Allen and of course, The