Categories
Fibber McGee and Molly Great Gildersleeve

Fibber and Molly Go To Gildersleeve’s Halloween Party

FMcG&MThe holiday at the end of October was actually the lead into All Saints Day, November 1, and All Souls Day, Nov 2. The religious feast is a time to remember those Saints who don’t already have a feast day of their own, and then to remember the recently departed. In ancient times they often said Feast when what they really meant was sitting in church for hours praying. Not an appealing prospect for kids who realized that the harvest was in and there would be precious few nice days left before the hardships of winter set in.

To help burn off some of this youthful energy, wise parents and community leaders began to encourage the celebration of All Hallows Eve, what we now know as Halloween. What they may not have counted on was that the kids are not the only one’s who enjoy an evening of autumnal merriment.

It is hard to find a supposed grown up who is a bigger kid than Wistful Vista’s own Fibber McGee. In 1939, Fibber and Molly receive an invitation to the party next door at the Gildersleeve’s house.

For those of you keeping track of Beloved Characters, The Great Gildersleeve first appeared before the Johnson’s Wax microphone in June of 1939, when Howard Peary appeared as a dentist treating Fibber’s tooth ache. The dentist in the episode is Dr. Wilber Gildersleeve, sowe can see that writer Don Quinn was still developing the character (some have raised the theory that Dr. Wilbur may in fact have been Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve’s brother).

By Halloween, Throckmorton had established himself as the McGee’s pompous neighbor. If there was anything that the Fibber McGee and Molly crew loved as much as watching Fibber go through the motions as town busy body, it was deflating pomposity. As we will see, sometimes even the most pompous can get the last laugh on Fibber.

great-gildersleeveThe evening starts out innocently enough, with Fibber enjoying a fine cigar, which Gildersleeve must have meant for his guests to enjoy. After all, he left them sitting in the bottom of his dresser drawer where anyone could find them! The evening is filled with traditional Halloween games and activities, like Mrs. Uppington telling fortunes and Harlow Wilcox telling a ghost story (you get three guesses to determine whether or not the ghost walked across a floor treated with Johnson’s Glo Coat).

Halloween would not be complete without a prank or two. What is Fibber doing in Gildy’s garage? Surely it is harmless fun… Wait, isn’t Gildy’s car at the mechanics? Where is Fibber’s car? Would some one have moved it off the street for safe keeping? Listen here to learn more :

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/Fibber-391024-Gildersleeves-Halloween-Party-OTRCAT.com.mp3

 

Categories
Fibber McGee and Molly

Fibber And Molly’s Lasting Appeal

Twenty four years is a long time to do anything, especially to have America come visit you at home every Tuesday night. That is just what Jim and Marian Jordan did from April 1935 until Sept 6, 1959, playing the beloved Fibber McGee and Molly.

In the TV world, a show that lasts more than four seasons is considered a classic. The characters on such a classic will have evolved dramatically in that time, but the Fibber who was still getting laughs at the twilight of his career on NBC’s Monitor had not changed all that much from the Fibber who drove his jalopy to the seashore on April 16, 1935.

As much as any situation comedy, Fibber McGee and Molly found a workable formula and pretty much stuck with it. Some of those elements changed in the later years of the run, which reflected the real lives of the players. The successful formula took a while to be fully developed, but when it did come together, it was one of the most successful in radio.

For the audience, the foundation of that success was Fibber and Molly themselves, played by real life couple Jim and Marian Jordan. A marriage bond as strong as the one enjoyed by the Jordans, especially in the pressure cooker world of show business, will strike us as exceptional today. Jim and Marian’s success, both in marriage and show business, are reflections of their mid-western values.

As important as the characters and the actors who play them are to the success of a comedy program, they would not last without great scripts to work from. This was important enough that from the beginning the fees paid for Fibber McGee and Molly were split three ways- a share apiece for Jim and Marion, and the third full share for their writer, Don Quinn. Quinn was not the most disciplined of writers; often he would wait until the last minute before actually writing the script, and in the final hours would lock himself in his office with a typewriter, a big plate of sandwiches, a big pot of coffee and two cartons of cigarettes. What emerged was usually comic genius, rarely in need of revision.

For most of the years Fibber and Molly were on the radio, the program stuck to a regular framework in its half hour format. The show never forgot that Johnson’s Wax was paying the bills. To that end, Quinn became a genius at working the sponsor’s plug into the storyline. Announcer Harlow Wilcox became more than the guy who introduced the show and read the commercials, he was an important character who always had a comment for Fibber’s foible of the week. For Fibber’s part, he was always amazed at Wilcox’s ability to sneak a plug for the Wax Company into any conversation, and commiserated with the audience who knew the commercial was coming.

Fibber McGee and Molly followed a format that lent itself to running gags. Some of these were the supporting characters themselves, most of whom could get a laugh just by walking up to the microphone. These included Mr. Old Timer, whose amazing powers never quite matched his aged persona, Wallace Wimple who lived in constant fear of his wife, Mayor LaTrivia who Fibber would reduce from civility to a near nervous breakdown on a regular basis, and pompous neighbor Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve who proved popular enough to get his own show. Another spinoff from Fibber and Molly was Beulah, who started as the McGee’s maid; Beulah always got a laugh in the studio, not just for her character, but because she was played by a white male actor.

Fibber McGee and Molly are more than a reflection of a simpler time. They were part of a world which never existed but which we all know as well as we know our own home town. How else could Fibber have gone 24 years with no job other than town busy-body? The time we spend in Wistful Vista is more than a visit home, it is a time to laugh and forget about the trouble of the real world.

 

Categories
Atomic Radio End of the World

Superstion and Old Time Radio End of the World

Mayan End of the World

The world is a pretty pleasant place; it has warm puppies, fresh huckleberry ice cream, and Fibber McGee and Molly episodes is pretty much alright. It is too bad that it all has to end.

You may have heard that the end will come on Dec 21, 2012. At least that is the feeling of those who are paying attention to the Mayan Long Count Calendar. The Long Count Calendar follows a 5,125 year cycle, originally observed and recorded by the ancient Mayans. The Mayan civilization was notable for leaving a fully developed writing system as well as having been incredibly gifted astronomers and mathematicians. They were able to calculate the length of the solar year to an even greater degree than the Europeans.

Arch Oboler

The Long Count Calendar is linear rather than cyclical. This means that at the end of the 13th cycle, called a b’ak’tun, the calendar simply stops. Many have interpreted this to mean that time, and the world, will stop at that point.

There is plenty of arguments as to just how the world will end. Some believe that the sun will explode; others feel that time will simply turn off like a light switch. There are theories that a mysterious planet called Nibiru will collide with the Earth, or that the magnetic poles will shift, throwing the world into incredible chaos.

The end of the world should be nothing new to fans of Old Time Radio. OTR fans heard the world end for perhaps the first time on Halloween of 1938, when Orson Welles gave everyone the jitters with his extraordinarily realistic presentation of The War Of The Worlds.

atom-bomber

When Arch Oboler took over the Lights Out radio program, he gave us plenty of reasons to believe that the world could end, from Oxychloride to “The Projective Mr. Drogen to “The Chicken Heart”!
Probably the closest the World has come to ending has been since the end of WWII and the invention of the Atomic Bomb. The implications of such destructive weapons found their way into several OTR programs and documentaries. Science Fiction fans know of a dizzying array of ways that the world could end.

The End Of The World collection of Old Time Radio Shows explores all of these possibilities. Hopefully, you will find them enjoyable listening as we approach the end of the thirteenth b’ak’tun.

Finishing our Christmas radio shopping will be a much bigger concern on Dec 21 than the end of the world. After all, on September 30, 1962, when Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar became the final broadcast of the Golden Age of Radio, the world failed to end.

If the Superstitious Radio World can survive the end of Old Time Radio, it should be able to survive the thirteenth b’ak’tun!