Jeff Kallman's excellent The Easy Ace: A Journal of Classic Radio
is a wonderful place to spend hours on end, rediscovering the Golden Age of Radio
as it's meant to be discovered and celebrated. Article after article
is filled with a wonderful new vignette about Golden Age Radio History.
---The Digital Deli Online.

[I]n his matchless on-this-day approach to chronicling “yesteryear,”
he easily aces out a less organized mind like mine,
which promptly lapsed into a more idiosyncratic mode of relating the past.
---broadcastellan.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"He's a Briii-ii-iight Boy, Mr. and Mrs. Peary": The Way It Was, 25 July

1905: ENTER GILDERSLEEVE---The man who made Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve---first as the pompous next-door nemesis of hapless Fibber McGee, then as the clumsily doting uncle of an orphaned niece and nephew on The Great Gildersleeve, making him, arguably, old time radio's first bona fide spinoff star---is born in San Leandro, California.

Harold Peary's magic ride will end only when he makes the biggest mistake of his career: thinking The Great Gildersleeve would jump with him when he succumbed to the legendary CBS talent raid of 1948-50, hardly bargaining that sponsor Kraft prefers to remain with NBC and had the ownership of the show (a piece of which Peary had hoped to obtain, fruitlessly) to back it up.

Peary will create another comedy, The Harold Peary Show (often called Honest Harold, mistaking the fictitious show his new character hosted for the show itself), that lasts a single year because of an unmistakeable problem: Peary's singular, booming voice just couldn't shake the Gildersleeve image. He will go on to a distinguished second career as a voice actor but never again achieve the stardom of the Gildersleeve years.

AIRWAVES . . .

2005: GOODBYE TO A GOOD GUY---Joe O'Brien, the morning drive host amid the original WMCA "Good Guys" lineup of disc jockeys, is killed in an automobile accident.

Already a New York radio veteran (and once half of the Gallagher and O'Brien morning team), O'Brien became one of the linch pins of the new lineup---the idea is credited to Ruth Meyer, WMCA's production/program manager, who formed the original lineup, though they wouldn't be called the Good Guys for another three years---in 1960, one of a team that included Harry Harrison, Jack Spector, Don Davis, and Jim Harriot.

They were joined by Dandy Dan Daniel and Ed (The Big Bad) Baer in 1961 and, by 1965, the Good Guys included Dean Anthony, B. Mitchel Reed, Gary Stevens, Johnny Dark, Herb Oscar Anderson, Don Davis, and, occasionally, WABC veteran Scott Muni.

O'Brien held down the morning drive slot (6-10 a.m.) as the Good Guys became famous in New York for their team style, even down to matching clothes and hair styles and their frequent remote appearances. O'Brien became popular for his ability to reach any age group with wit, friendliness, and thorough credibility.

O'Brien left WMCA in 1969, when the station tried a brief and ultimately disastrous format shift that was abandoned swiftly enough in favour of a return to the Good Guys style.

He took WNBC's morning drive show for a time before moving to WHN for fill-in work and, in due course, signing on with Peekskill (New York) WHUD to become its morning drive personality, a slot he held for fourteen years until his retirement in 1986, though he continued doing a weekly Sunday morning show until his death.

CHANNEL SURFING . . .

1958: THE TROUBLE WITH HOUSEWORK---It isn't necessarily anything that much out of the ordinary trouble, notwithstanding that "trouble" and "ordinary" don't necessarily unite for this couple (Peg Lynch, Alan Bunce) in this household, on today's edition of The Couple Next Door. (CBS.)

Aunt Effie: Margaret Hamilton. Writer: Peg Lynch.

PREMIERING TODAY . . .

1894---Walter Brennan (actor: You Can't Take It With You; Law West of the Pecos), Swampscott, Massachussetts.
1899---Ralph Dumke (actor: We, the Abbotts; Quality Twins), South Bend, Indiana.
1900---Al Pearce (comedian: Here Comes Elmer; The Al Pearce Show), San Francisco.
1901---Lila Lee (actress: The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour), Union Hill, New Jersey.
1906---Johnny Hodges (saxophonist, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra: The Esquire Jazz Concert; numerous radio remotes), Cambridge, Massachussetts.
1907---Jack Gilford (actor: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater), New York City.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Ron Sayles said...

It looks like you aren't taking comments, but I will send one anyway. Harold Peary made a dismal mistake by leaving "The Great Gildersleeve." His "Honest Harold" was a dismal mistake. With William Waterman taking over for Peary, not many people could tell the difference. The only thing Waterman would not do is the Gildy laugh. He said that was Peary's and he was going to leave that alone.

1:51 PM  
Blogger The Great Gildersleeve said...

Hello Jeff,
Good to see you back(hope things are a little better than when you left us a few weeks ago)

I've popped back a few times and thought I was too early I arrive today to find what looks like quite a few days work(Have you been saving them up? :-)

And hows this for coincidence...you have a piece on Gildersleeve. Did I hear correctly that he ended up as a Jock on radio station at the end of his career?

Wonder how unsual that was. We've got problems over here with radio and how it's going. My Mum would say as she often does...It's a different world, things cahnge...she's right of course...I'm not exactly trying to stop progress but I do worry that quality is suffering and if we are not careful radio will be all but dead...

On the BBC messageboards we're discussing how programmes have changed, station sound, the type of presenters being brought in, the chasing for that ever younger audience whilst neglecting the audience you have.

And in amongst some political stuff(I rarely talk politics on my blog)I'm remembering and talking about Pirate radio, digital radio and just about anything I can about it(more to come)not as articulate as yourself but my thoughts on the subject are being said I guess.

I must away and read what you've posted.

All The Best

Gildy(Anthony)

6:14 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

Gildy---Harold Peary played a small-town radio host named "Honest Harold" on the short-lived Harold Peary Show, his attempt to pick up his pieces after he essentially outsmarted himself out of The Great Gildersleeve and found himself having jumped to CBS with no place to go at first. The show is often called Honest Harold by fans, but that's a slight misnomer.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

Ron---More than just refusing to use the Gildersleeve laugh (a longtime friend of Harold Peary's, Willard Waterman refused to use it out of respect for Peary), the show itself just didn't resonate with the odd depth that Peary brought to the show. The Waterman Gildersleeve turned out to be (for my ears, anyway) precisely what was wrong with The Harold Peary Show (which did have some potential otherwise)---it came across as "Gildersleeve Lite." And Gildersleeve had a longer-living franchise by the time Waterman got the role, so it was bound to have some life left to live even if nothing was really the same again . . .

8:15 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

By the way, I'm still taking comments . . . I just switched to comment moderation to keep the spammer scammers at arm's length. ;)

8:16 PM  

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