Marian Driscoll Jordan

Last updated
Marian Driscoll Jordan
Fibber McGee and Molly in 1937.jpg
Jordan with her husband Jim Jordan in the roles of Fibber McGee and Molly McGee, 1937.
Marian Irene Driscoll

(1898-04-15)April 15, 1898
DiedApril 7, 1961(1961-04-07) (aged 62)
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery
Culver City, California
OccupationActress, radio personality
Years active1924–1961
Notable work
Fibber McGee and Molly
(m. 1918;her death 1961)
ChildrenKathryn Therese Jordan
James Carroll "Jim" Jordan

Marian Irene Driscoll Jordan (April 15, 1898 – April 7, 1961) was an American actress and radio personality. She was most remembered for portraying the role of Molly McGee, the patient, common sense, honey-natured wife of Fibber McGee on the NBC radio series Fibber McGee and Molly from 1935 to 1959. She starred on this series opposite her real-life husband Jim Jordan. [1]


Early life and marriage

Jordan was born Marian Irene Driscoll on April 15, 1898 in Peoria, Illinois. She was the twelfth of thirteen children born to Daniel P. Driscoll, (1858–1916) and Anna Driscoll (née Carroll), (1858–1928). Driscoll's paternal great-grandfather, Michael Driscoll, Sr. (1793–1849), emigrated with his wife and children from his hometown of Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland in 1836 to the Boston area and then to Bureau County, Illinois in 1848. [2]

As a teenager and young adult, Driscoll gave music lessons and sang in choir at the church which she attended. While at choir practice one day, she met a member of the choir named James Edward "Jim" Jordan. The two were married on August 31, 1918. [3] They had two children together; a son and a daughter. The couple went on to have a long career in show business.

Their life as newlyweds started humbly. Marian became a piano teacher and Jim a mailman. Jim enlisted in the army and was eventually stationed in France during World War I. He contracted a case of influenza during the 1918 flu pandemic but survived. After the war ended, Jim stayed in Europe to do Vaudeville performances for wounded soldiers. [4]


Early radio career

Jordan was first heard on radio with her husband Jim in 1924 after a bet that Jim made with his brother. The couple's performance was a success. They began performing at WIBO, a radio station in Chicago where they earned $10 a week. [5]

In 1927, Marian and Jim began their second radio show, The Smith Family which aired on WENR radio in Chicago. [4] The show was a great boost to their career, ending in 1930.

Collaboration with Don Quinn and Smackout

In 1931, while in Chicago, the Jordans met cartoonist Don Quinn. The three of them created the radio comedy Smackout . The series starred Marian as a gossipy green-grocer. Jim played the manager of the grocery store. Marian was known for her catchphrase, "He was smack out of everything, 'cept hot air." [4]

The show, for which Don Quinn was head writer, was the Jordans' first nationwide success. It was also one of the first situation comedies (sitcoms).

"Smackout" ended in 1935 after its sponsorship was taken over by the Johnson Wax Company. [6] The Jordans and Don Quinn collaborated on the creation of a new show for Johnson Wax, Fibber McGee and Molly .

Fibber McGee years

On April 16, 1935, Marian Jordan, her husband Jim, and writer Don Quinn, began broadcasting Fibber McGee and Molly , on the NBC Blue Network Chicago radio affiliate WMAQ. [7] [8] The series was a big hit. Marian played the role of Molly McGee, the patient and intelligent wife who supports husband Fibber McGee through various get rich quick schemes and misadventures.

In 1938, the show and Jordan would both suffer major changes. During this time, Marian was drinking excessively. She entered a rehabilitation center in suburban Chicago and tried to get sober. The Jordan children were in high school and college. "Molly" was written out of the radio show, and the program was renamed Fibber McGee and Company. Those who knew Marian doubted that she would ever return to radio, especially after the show moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1939. However, Marian astonished everyone by travelling alone from Joliet, Illinois to Pasadena, California in March 1939. She was able to return to the character of "Molly," and some listeners considered her better than before.

The show received high ratings, from season three in 1938 until the end of its run. It also gave birth to a spin-off. In 1941, a recurring character, Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, (played by Harold Peary), began a new show called The Great Gildersleeve . [9] The radio and television series Beulah was also a spin-off of Fibber McGee and Molly. [10]

Marian Jordan's health began to deteriorate in the 1950s. This was the beginning of the end both for the show and for Jordan. The program officially ended in 1956 but the Jordans continued their roles as Fibber McGee and Molly in short skits on the NBC radio program Monitor until October 2, 1959, when her poor health made her unable to continue. By the time Fibber McGee and Molly was adapted for television, Marian was too ill to reprise her role, and Cathy Lewis took her place, opposite Bob Sweeney as Fibber. Lewis's darker take on the character was a factor in the television series' cancellation after only a half-season.

Other works

In the 1920s, Jordan did a radio show in Chicago entitled Luke and Mirandy. She played the role of Mirandy with her husband Jim as Luke. It was a farm-report program in which Luke told tall tales and face-saving lies for comedic effect. [9]

Marian Jordan also appeared as Molly in six movies based on Fibber McGee and Molly.

Personal life

Marian married Jim Jordan on August 31, 1918 in Peoria. [3] They were married for almost 43 years until her death on April 7, 1961. They had two children: Kathryn Therese Jordan, (1920–2007) and James Carroll "Jim" Jordan, (1923–December 23, 1998). She was a Roman Catholic. [11]

Illness and death

The deterioration of Marian's health began in 1938 during the run of Fibber McGee and Molly. She battled alcoholism, and entered a rehabilitation center. She returned to radio in April, 1939. [12]

In 1953, Jordan's health became progressively worse. She became exhausted and easily fatigued. A doctor suggested she take a long rest, but she refused, deciding instead to continue performing. The Fibber McGee and Molly program was then recorded from the Jordans' home in Encino. The music was pre-recorded, and the commercials were no longer part of the show, but her failing health soon ended the Fibber McGee and Molly show.

In 1958, Marian was found to have an inoperable form of cancer. [13]

Marian Jordan died at her home in Encino on April 7, 1961, of cancer. She and Jim Jordan are buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.


Fibber McGee and Molly was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989. [14] Marian and Jim Jordan were inducted the same year. [15]

Jordan also has a star for her contributions to radio on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street. [11]

Related Research Articles

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

Fibber McGee and Molly was a 1935–1959 American radio comedy series. The situation comedy was a staple of the NBC Red Network from 1936 on after having begun on NBC Blue in 1935. One of the most popular and enduring radio series of its time, it 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.

Arthur Q. Bryan American actor

Arthur Quirk Bryan was an American actor, comedian and radio personality, best remembered for his longtime recurring role as well-spoken, wisecracking Dr. Gamble on the radio comedy Fibber McGee and Molly and for creating the voice of the Warner Brothers cartoon character Elmer Fudd.

ZaSu Pitts American actress

ZaSu Pitts was an American actress who starred in many silent dramas, including Erich von Stroheim's epic 1924 silent film Greed, and comedies, transitioning successfully to mostly comedy films with the advent of sound films. She also appeared on numerous radio shows. Her career as an entertainer spanned nearly 50 years, and she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

<i>The Great Gildersleeve</i> American radio comedy series

The Great Gildersleeve is a radio situation comedy broadcast in the United States from August 31, 1941 to 1958. Initially written by Leonard Lewis Levinson, it was one of broadcast history's earliest spin-off programs. The series was built around Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, a regular character from the radio situation comedy Fibber McGee and Molly. The character was introduced in the October 3, 1939, episode of that series. Actor Harold Peary had played a similarly named character, Dr. Gildersleeve, on earlier episodes. The Great Gildersleeve enjoyed its greatest popularity in the 1940s. Peary played the character during its transition from the parent show into the spin-off and later in four feature films released at the height of the show's popularity.

Jim Jordan (actor) American radio and film actor

James Edward Jordan was the American actor who played Fibber McGee in Fibber McGee and Molly and voiced the albatross Orville in Disney's The Rescuers (1977).

Harold Peary

Harold (Hal) Peary was an American actor, comedian and singer in radio, films, television, and animation. His most memorable role is as Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, which began as a supporting character on radio's Fibber McGee and Molly in 1938. The character proved to be so popular with audiences by 1941 that Peary got his own radio comedy show, The Great Gildersleeve, the first known spin-off hit in American broadcasting history.

WSCR Clear-channel sports radio station in Chicago

WSCR – branded 670 The Score – is a commercial sports radio station licensed to serve Chicago, Illinois, servicing the Chicago metropolitan area and much of surrounding Northern Illinois, Northwest Indiana and parts of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Owned by Entercom, WSCR is a clear-channel station with extended nighttime range in most of the Central United States and part of the Eastern United States. WSCR serves as the Chicago affiliate for CBS Sports Radio, the Fighting Illini Sports Network and the NFL on Westwood One Sports; the flagship station for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bulls radio networks; and the home of radio personalities David Haugh and Matt Spiegel.

The Halls of Ivy is an American situation comedy that ran from 1950 to 1952 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.

Marlin Hurt

Marlin Hurt was an American stage entertainer and radio actor who was best known for originating the dialect comedy role of Beulah made famous on the Fibber McGee and Molly program and the first season of the Beulah radio series.

Peggy Knudsen American actress

Margaret Ann Knudsen was an American character actress.

In media, a spin-off is a radio program, television program, video game, film, or any narrative work, derived from already existing works that focus on more details and different aspects from the original work.

Ginny Simms American actress and singer

Virginia Ellen Simms was an American popular singer and film actress.

This Way Please is a 1937 American musical comedy directed by Robert Florey and featuring Charles Rogers, a popular singer from the days of vaudeville entertainment.

Don Quinn

Don Quinn was an American comedy writer who started out as a cartoonist based in Chicago. According to sources, Quinn's career as a cartoonist was short-lived but his career as a writer began after he realized that the magazines and newspapers threw away his drawings he sent in but kept his captions.

<i>Look Whos Laughing</i> 1941 film by Allan Dwan

Look Who's Laughing is a 1941 film from RKO Radio Pictures. The film is built around a number of radio stars from the Golden Age of Radio and centers around radio personality Jim Jordan as Fibber McGee from the comic duo, Fibber McGee and Molly, who plans to build an aircraft factory in a small town. Look Who's Laughing was followed by Here We Go Again (1942), with many of the radio stars reprising their performances.

<i>Here We Go Again</i> (film) 1942 American film directed by Allan Dwan

Here We Go Again is a 1942 American film, a sequel to Look Who's Laughing. With RKO in financial trouble, with the success of the earlier zany comedy starring a bevy of radio stars, Here We Go Again put Fibber McGee and Molly in a search for where to celebrate the couple's 20th anniversary. They want to throw a big party but when everyone declines their invitation, they decide to go on a second honeymoon instead.

Academy of Our Lady/Spalding Institute United States historic place

Academy of Our Lady and Spalding Institute were Catholic high schools across the street from each other in downtown Peoria, Illinois.

Heavenly Days is a 1944 film starring Fibber McGee and Molly. It was the third and final feature film to feature the popular radio characters; unlike the two previous entries, none of the radio show's supporting cast members appeared in this film.

Harlow Wilcox (announcer)

Harlow Wilcox was an American radio announcer best known for his work on the radio sitcom Fibber McGee and Molly.

Smackout was an American old-time radio series and was arguably the first and earliest example of the situation comedy (sitcom) genre and format. The series revolves around a general store in Chicago and the store's proprietor Luke Gray, played by Jim Jordan. Whenever a customer came into the general store to ask Uncle Luke, as Gray was affectionately known, for something, the typical response from Luke would be "we're smack out of that". But that never stopped Luke from telling one of his signature tall tales to the customer. Jordan also played a regular customer named Jim and Marian Jordan portrayed the main roles as Teeny, a little girl and regular customer, and Marian, Jim's girlfriend.


  1. Biography for Marian Jordan at IMDb
  2. "Michael Driscoll b 1793 married Helena Fitzgerald". Archived from the original on January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  3. 1 2 "Jim Jordan, Radio's Fibber McGee, Is Dead at 91". Associated Press in the New York Times . 2 April 1988. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
  4. 1 2 3 "Jim and Marian Jordan's Contributions to Radio". Archived from the original on August 10, 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  5. "Fibber McGee and Molly – Media Heritage". Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  6. "Jim Jordan and Marian Jordan". Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  7. Childers, Scott. "WMAQ Time Capsule". Childers, Scott. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  8. Samuels, Rich. "Fibber McGee & Molly with downloadable audio files". Samuels, Rich. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  9. 1 2 Dunning, John, ed. (1998). On the air: the encyclopedia of old time radio. Oxford University Press US. p. 840. ISBN   0-19-507678-8 . Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  10. "Jim & Marian Jordan aka Fibber McGee and Molly". Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Marian Jordan AKA Marian Driscoll". Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  12. "Radio:Fibber & Co" (Press release). Time. April 22, 1940. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  13. "Know Old Time Radio – Marian Jordan (1898–1961)" . Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  14. "Fibber McGee and Molly". Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  15. "Radio Hall of Fame Inductees, 1989". Radio Hall of Fame . Retrieved January 18, 2015.