Gale Gordon

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Gale Gordon
Gale Gordon 1958.JPG
Gordon in 1958
Born
Charles T. Aldrich Jr.

(1906-02-20)February 20, 1906
DiedJune 30, 1995(1995-06-30) (aged 89)
OccupationActor
Years active1933–1991
Spouse(s)
Virginia Curley
(m. 1937;her death 1995)

Gale Gordon (born Charles Thomas Aldrich Jr., February 20, 1906 – June 30, 1995) was an American character actor perhaps best remembered as Lucille Ball's longtime television foiland particularly as cantankerously combustible, tightfisted bank executive Theodore J. Mooney, on Ball's second television situation comedy, The Lucy Show . Gordon also appeared in I Love Lucy and had starring roles in Ball's successful third series Here's Lucy and her short-lived fourth and final series Life with Lucy .

Character actor actor who predominantly plays unusual or eccentric characters

A character actor is a supporting actor who plays unusual, interesting, or eccentric characters. The term, often contrasted with that of leading actor, is somewhat abstract and open to interpretation. In a literal sense, all actors can be considered character actors since they all play "characters", but in the usual sense it is an actor who plays a distinctive and important supporting role.

Lucille Ball American actress, comedienne and businesswoman

Lucille Désirée Ball was an American actress, comedian, model, entertainment studio executive and producer. She was the star of the self-produced sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, and Life with Lucy, as well as comedy television specials aired under the title The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.

Theodore J. Mooney is a fictional character on the 1960s CBS situation comedy The Lucy Show, portrayed by Gale Gordon.

Contents

Gordon was also a respected and beloved radio actor who is remembered for his role as school principal Osgood Conklin in Our Miss Brooks , starring Eve Arden, in both the 1948–1957 radio series and the 1952–1956 television series. [1] He also co-starred as the second Mr. Wilson in Dennis the Menace.

<i>Our Miss Brooks</i> television series

Our Miss Brooks is an American sitcom starring Eve Arden as a sardonic high-school English teacher. It began as a radio show broadcast on CBS from 1948 to 1957. When the show was adapted to television (1952–56), it became one of the medium's earliest hits. In 1956, the sitcom was adapted for the big screen in the film of the same name.

Eve Arden American actress and comedienne

Eve Arden was an American film, radio, stage, and television actress, and comedienne. She performed in leading and supporting roles for nearly six decades.

<i>Dennis the Menace</i> (1959 TV series) American television series

Dennis the Menace is an American sitcom based on the Hank Ketcham comic strip of the same name. It preceded The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday evenings on CBS from October 1959 to July 1963. The series starred Jay North as Dennis Mitchell; Herbert Anderson as his father, Henry; Gloria Henry as his mother, Alice; Joseph Kearns as George Wilson; Gale Gordon as George's brother, John Wilson; Sylvia Field as George's wife, Martha Wilson; and Sara Seegar as John's wife, Eloise Wilson.

Career

Gordon and Bea Benaderet in the 1950 summer replacement radio show Granby's Green Acres Gale Gordon Bea Benaderet Granby's Green Acres 1950.jpg
Gordon and Bea Benaderet in the 1950 summer replacement radio show Granby's Green Acres

Radio

Born Charles Thomas Aldrich Jr., in New York City to vaudevillian Charles Thomas Aldrich and his wife, English actress Gloria Gordon, Gale Gordon's first big radio break came via the recurring roles of "Mayor La Trivia" and "Foggy Williams" on Fibber McGee and Molly , before playing Rumson Bullard on the show's successful spinoff, The Great Gildersleeve . Gordon and his character of Mayor La Trivia briefly left the show during WWII in when Gordon enlisted in the US Coast Guard, where he spent four years [2] . He was the first actor to play the role of Flash Gordon, in the 1935 radio serial The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon. [3] He also played Dr. Stevens in Glorious One. [4]

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually referred to as either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Vaudeville genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s

Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 18th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets. It became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent.

<i>Fibber McGee and Molly</i> American radio comedy series

Fibber McGee and Molly was an American radio comedy series. The situation comedy, a staple of the NBC Red Network for the show's entire run and one of the most popular and enduring radio series of its time, ran as a stand-alone series from 1935 to 1956, and then continued as a short-form series as part of the weekend Monitor from 1957 to 1959. The title characters were created and portrayed by Jim and Marian Jordan, a real-life husband and wife team that had been working in radio since the 1920s.

From 1937–39, he starred as "The Octopus" in the Speed Gibson adventure series. In 1949, Gordon recorded the pilot for The Halls of Ivy , starring in the program's title role of Dr. Todhunter Hall, the president of Ivy College. The pilot led to a radio series that aired from 1950–52, but with Ronald Colman in the title role; Gordon later joined the cast as a replacement for Willard Waterman in the popular role of John Merriweather. (Waterman and Gordon both died in 1995.)

The Halls of Ivy is an American situation comedy that ran from 1950–52 on NBC radio, created by Fibber McGee & Molly co-creator/writer Don Quinn. The series was adapted into a CBS television comedy (1954–55) produced by ITC Entertainment and Television Programs of America. British husband-and-wife actors Ronald Colman and Benita Hume starred in both versions of the show.

Ronald Colman British actor

Ronald Charles Colman was an English-born actor, starting his career in theatre and silent film in his native country, then emigrating to the United States and having a successful Hollywood film career. He was most popular during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. He received Oscar nominations for Bulldog Drummond (1929), Condemned (1929) and Random Harvest (1942). Colman starred in several classic films, including A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Lost Horizon (1937) and The Prisoner of Zenda (1937). He also played the starring role in the Technicolor classic Kismet (1944), with Marlene Dietrich, which was nominated for four Academy Awards. In 1947, he won an Academy Award for Best Actor and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for the film A Double Life.

Willard Waterman American actor

Willard Lewis Waterman was a character actor in films, TV and on radio, remembered best for replacing Harold Peary as the title character of The Great Gildersleeve at the height of that show's popularity.

In 1950, Gordon played John Granby in the radio series Granby's Green Acres , which became the basis for the 1960s television series Green Acres . Gordon went on to create the role of pompous principal Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks , carrying the role to television when the show moved there in 1952. In the interim, Gordon turned up as Rudolph Atterbury on My Favorite Husband , which starred Lucille Ball in a precursor to I Love Lucy . [5]

<i>Granbys Green Acres</i>

Granby's Green Acres is a radio situation comedy from the United States. It was broadcast on CBS July 3, 1950 – August 21, 1950, as a summer replacement for Lux Radio Theatre.

<i>Green Acres</i> American sitcom

Green Acres is an American sitcom starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as a couple who move from New York City to a country farm. Produced by Filmways as a sister show to Petticoat Junction, the series was first broadcast on CBS, from September 15, 1965, to April 27, 1971. All episodes were filmed in color.

Television Telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images

Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

Gordon and Ball had previously worked together on The Wonder Show, starring Jack Haley, from 1938–39. The two had a long friendship as well as recurring professional partnership. Gordon also had a recurring role as fictitious Rexall Drugs sponsor representative Mr. Scott on yet another radio hit, The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show , staying with the role as long as Rexall sponsored the show. When the sponsor changed to RCA, the character simply switched employers. [6]

Jack Haley American stage, radio and film actor

John Joseph Haley Jr. was an American vaudevillian, actor, comedian, radio host, singer and dancer, best known for his portrayal of the Tin Man and his farmhand counterpart "Hickory" in the classic 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz.

Rexall Chain of drugstores

Rexall was a chain of American drugstores, and currently is the name of their store-branded products. The stores, having roots in the federation of United Drug Stores starting in 1903, licensed the Rexall brand name to as many as 12,000 drug stores across the United States from 1920 to 1977.

<i>The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show</i>

The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show, was a comedy radio program which ran on NBC from 1948 to 1954 starring real life couple Alice Faye and Phil Harris. Harris had previously become known to radio audiences as the band-leader-turned-cast-member of the same name on The Jack Benny Program while Faye had been a frequent guest on programs such as Rudy Vallée's variety shows. After becoming the breakout stars of the music and comedy variety program The Fitch Bandwagon, the show was retooled into a full situation comedy, with Harris and Faye playing fictionalized versions of themselves as a working show business couple raising two daughters in a madcap home.

Television

The widely acknowledged master of the "slow-burn" temper explosion in character, Gordon was the first pick to play Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy, but he was committed to Our Miss Brooks as well as being a regular on several other radio shows, and declined the offer [7] (the role went to William Frawley). He appeared in three guest shots on the show: twice as Ricky Ricardo's boss, Alvin Littlefield, owner of the Tropicana Club where Ricky's band played, and later as a judge on a Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour episode.

In 1958, he appeared as a regular in the role of department store co-owner Bascomb Bleacher Sr., on the NBC sitcom Sally , starring Joan Caulfield and Marion Lorne. [8] He also appeared on the Walter Brennan ABC sitcom, The Real McCoys . Gordon had a co-starring role in the CBS television comedy Pete and Gladys . [9] At this time, he guest starred with Pat O'Brien in the ABC sitcom, Harrigan and Son , the story of a father-and-son lawyer team. He also appeared on the CBS/Desilu sitcom, Angel , with Annie Fargé. On The Danny Thomas Show , he guest starred in seven episodes. In five, he played the landlord of the building where the Williams family lived. In 1962, Gordon appeared as different characters on two episodes of another ABC sitcom, The Donna Reed Show .

In 1962, Ball created The Lucy Show and planned to hire Gordon to play Theodore J. Mooney, the banker who was first Lucy Carmichael's executor and subsequently her employer, when she went to work in his bank. Gordon was under contract to play John Wilson (after the death of Joseph Kearns, who played George Wilson) on Dennis the Menace . Prior to Gordon's replacing Kearns on Dennis the Menace, the two had worked together on an old radio show, The Cinnamon Bear.

When Dennis the Menace ended in spring 1963, Gordon joined The Lucy Show as Mr. Mooney for the 1963-64 season. (In the interim, Charles Lane played the similar Mr. Barnsdahl character for the 1962-1963 season.) [2] The somewhat portly Gordon was adept at physical comedy and could do a perfect cartwheel. He did this on The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy , and again as a guest on The Dean Martin Show .

After the sale of Desilu Studios, Ball shut down The Lucy Show in 1968 and retooled it into Here's Lucy and became her own producer and distributor. She used Gordon again, this time as her irascible boss (and brother-in-law) Harrison Otis 'Uncle Harry' Carter at an employment agency that specialized in unusual jobs for unusual people. In reality, it was just a continuation of the Lucy Carmichael/Mr. Mooney relationship, but with new names and a new setting. [5]

Gordon had all but retired when Here's Lucy ended, but in the 1980s he came out of retirement to join Ball for the short-lived Life With Lucy . When Lucille Ball ended her career, Gordon was the only actor to have co-starred or guest-starred in every weekly series, radio or television, she had done since the 1940s. His last acting role would be a reprise of Mr. Mooney in the first episode of Hi Honey, I'm Home!

Gordon in 1988 Gale Gordon at the 1988 Emmy Awards.jpg
Gordon in 1988

Beginning in 1949, Gordon and his wife lived in the tiny community of Borrego Springs, California (pop. 1,500) where he had a ranch and seven dogs. He was also honorary mayor of the town and commuted approximately 160 mi (260 km) to Los Angeles every day when working for Ball.

Author, painter and rancher

In addition to acting, Gordon was an accomplished author, penning two books in the 1940s entitled Nursery Rhymes for Hollywood Babies and Leaves from the Story Trees, and two one-act plays. [5] After he and his wife purchased 150 acres (61 ha) in Borrego Springs, Gordon did much of the construction of the house and his art studio himself. He also built and restored his own furniture on the property and used the land to become one of the few commercial carob growers in the United States. [2]

Gale Gordon: From Mayor of Wistful Vista to Borrego Springs, by Jim Manago, published by BearManor Media in 2016, is the first biography of Gordon.

Death

Gordon died of lung cancer on June 30, 1995, at the Redwood Terrace Health Center in Escondido, California, aged 89. Virginia Curley, his wife of nearly 60 years, had died in the same facility one month earlier. The couple had no children. [6]

Awards

In 1999, Gordon was inducted posthumously into the Radio Hall of Fame, [10] and for his contribution to radio he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6340 Hollywood Boulevard.

Selected film/TV/Radio roles

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References

  1. https://www.decades.com/lists/10-things-to-know-about-our-miss-brooks
  2. 1 2 3 "Gale's Story". The Gale Gordon Archive. 9 January 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
  3. "Radio Broadcast Log Of: The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures Of Flash Gordon". Audio Classics Archive. 1988. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
  4. "What Do You Want to Know?" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. 14 (6): 58. October 1940. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 "Gale Gordon: A Final Bow". Lucyfan.com. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
  6. 1 2 Pace, Eric (July 3, 1995). "Gale Gordon, TV Actor, 89; Longtime Foil to Lucille Ball". The New York Times. NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
  7. Monush, Barry & Sheridan, James Lucille Ball FAQ: Everything Left to Know About America's Favorite Redhead Applause Theatre & Cinema, 1 Jun 2011
  8. Leszczak, Bob (2012-11-02). Single Season Sitcoms, 1948-1979: A Complete Guide. McFarland. p. 167. ISBN   9780786493050 via Google Books.
  9. Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2009-06-24). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Random House Publishing Group. p. 1074. ISBN   9780307483201 via Google Books.
  10. "Comedy: Gale Gordon". Radio Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2011-06-14.