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Radio / The Great Gildersleeve

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A comedic radio program that ran on NBC from 1941–1957, centering around the life and exploits of Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve (played by Harold Peary until he left in 1950 and was replaced by Willard Waterman), who acts as guardian to his niece Marjorie (originally played by Lurene Tuttle and followed by Louise Erickson and Mary Lee Robb), and his nephew Leroy (Walter Tetley). Other recurring characters included the household cook Birdie (Lillian Randolph), Judge Horace Hooker (Earle Ross), Richard Q. Peavey (Richard LeGrand), the friendly neighborhood pharmacist, and Floyd Munson (originally voiced by Mel Blanc and later by Arthur Q. Bryan), the neighborhood barber.

The show began as a spinoff of Fibber McGee and Molly, where Peary's Gildersleeve was a pompous windbag who became a consistent McGee nemesis. The character soon became so popular that Kraft Foods—looking primarily to promote its Parkay margarine spread — sponsored a new series with Peary's Gildersleeve as the central, slightly softened and slightly befuddled focus of a lively new family.

Most of the series can be found here.

This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Athlete: In The Movie, Leroy accidentally hooks up a treadmill backwards and Throckmorton ends up running backwards on it. But he runs so fast that he challenges Judge Hooker to a backwards race.
  • Catchphrase: Gildersleeve has several:
    • "That Bessie, I'm gonna have to let her go!"
    • (To Leroy) "Tuck your shirt tail in."
    • "You're a haa-aa-aa-aard man, [insert name]!" (Or the variation he uses just for Leroy: "You're a brii-ii-ii-iight boy, Leroy!")
    • "This is going to be one of my baa-aa-aa-aad days!"
    • (Referring to Judge Hooker) "The old goat..."
    • Peavey's "Well, now, I wouldn't say that!" ...which is probably better-known nowadays for its use in several Looney Tunes shorts of the same era.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Judge Hooker and Leroy, although the other characters have their moments.
  • The Ditz: Bessy, Throckmorton's secretary after he becomes Water Commissioner.
  • Everytown, America: Summerfield
  • Flanderization: Birdie has more nuanced characterization in early seasons, even the occasional subplot about her life outside of her job, such as the episode where she enlists Gildersleeve's help with an auction at her church. Over the years she devolves into a one-note Mammy stereotype, who only drops in to make sardonic comments on Gildersleeve's absurdity-of-the-week.
  • Freudian Trio:
  • The Heart: Marjorie.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Gildersleeve, from his previous appearances on Fibber McGee and Molly. He later finds a Foil in Rumson Bullard, who displays many of Gildersleeve's own earlier traits.
  • Heel Realization: Judge Hooker has a particularly sobering one in episode 52 when he realizes that a joke he played on Throckmorton is about to result in him being humiliated in front of the whole town, and even refers to himself as a horrible, mean old man when it sinks in how much it's going to hurt Throckmorton and his family.
  • Kavorka Man: Gildersleeve may be heavyset and middle-aged, but he has a way with the ladies regardless.
  • Nephewism: Gildersleeve is raising his orphaned niece Marjorie and nephew Leroy.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: Fibber and Molly come to visit in one episode.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Birdie
  • Sexy Secretary: Bessie
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Judge Hooker started out as this for Gildy before they gradually softened into Vitriolic Best Buds. Rumson Bullard later plays it straight.
  • Sound-to-Screen Adaptation: There were four films for RKO featuring most of the radio cast (save for Walter Tetley, who was actually an adult voice actor and therefore couldn't appear onscreen as Leroy, thus was replaced with a child actor).
  • Spin-Off: One of the earliest.
  • Team Mom: Birdie and Marjorie often act like this.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Gildersleeve, compared to how he was in Fibber McGee and Molly.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Gildy and Judge Hooker.