Friday, April 07, 2006

Unsung Hero Gale Gordon

It is springtime and the Old Time Radio convention is comming to Cincinnati, Ohio on April 21st and the 22nd. I don't know if I will be able to attend as I may have work obligaions. However, at this time of year I start thinking of my favorite shows and preformers. One of the unsung heros of radio and television is Gale Gordon. While I know little about his past I am an admirer of hiw work. Like most good charactor actors, I think he would prefer it that way. His biggest boost to his life and career was when he starred on the radio comedy "My Favorite Wife." The show was a prelude to "I Love Lucy" with him as the husband and Lucille Ball as his wife. When Lucy and Desi started "I Love Lucy" he was her first choice to play Fred Mertz. However, another radio show that he was on, "Our Miss Brooks", had transferred to television and he was already obligated to be on that show. So they went with a friend of Desi's William Frawley. The rest is broadcast entertainment history. Later the show Dennis the Menace suffered a loss when Joseph Kearns, another unsung hero of radio and television, died before the end of the 1962 season. Mr. Kearns played Mr. Wilson and while Gale Gordon was very good as Mr. Wilson's borther John who took over as Dennis neighbor, Joseph Kearns was better. He is the Mr. Wilson that Gale, Don Rickles, Walter Matthau and all others aspire to portray. Gale did have one thing going for him that none of them did. He looked more like the character from the newspaper strip. Later in 1963 on "The Lucy Show" and "Here's Lucy" he got the chance that eluded him. The chance to play opposite Lucy Ball on television. He and Lucy were close friends and while the cast may have changed after he joined but no matter who came or went between the two shows Gale was always there. His two characters were basically the same. In one show he was Harrison Carter who tried to help his now widowed Sister-in-Law. In the other he was Mr. Mooney her boss at the bank. In both he was gruff but loveable. I always understood why he put up with her as Harrison Carter. She was family. I never understood why he kept her on when he played her boss Mr. Mooney. He could have fired her after one of her many mistakes.
In 1968 "The Lucy Show" went off the air. Also, in 1968 "Here's Lucy" went on the air. It was basically the same show but the character names were changed and Lucy added her real kids Lucie and Desi Jr. as...what else her kids Kim and Craig. The show eventually went off the air in 1974. While that was not the last heard from any of the Ball/Arnez clan it was the last we heard from Gale Godon for quite awhile. In 1991 Nickelodeon aired a show called "Hi Honey, I'm Home." It answered that age old question What if those family sitcoms of the 50's were real? Ok so no one was asking that question but that is the one that it answered. For some reason they were in hiding from the real world and guest stars from those shows would show up. Gale Gordon was one of those guest stars. If memory serves me correct he was the boss for the man who was the head of the family. Other guest were Al Lewis, Ann B. Davis, Jim Neighbors and others.
Mr. Gordon has passed on but his fans will always remember.
The above photo is from this auction site. You can also go to this fan site. Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely post about Gale Gordon, he really was a great performer, but one small thing: The radio show he did with Lucille Ball was called "My Favorite Husband" not "Wife".