Cover of Alpha Video's DVD of the Topper TV series
|Written by|| Thorne Smith (original novel)|
Robert Riley Crutcher
|Directed by|| Richard L. Bare |
James V. Kern
Leslie H. Martinson
|Starring|| Anne Jeffreys |
Leo G. Carroll
|Theme music composer||Roy Ingraham|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||78|
|Producers||John W. Loveton|
Bernard L. Schubert
|Production locations||Hal Roach Studios, Culver City, Calif.|
William P. Whitley
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Original release||October 9, 1953 –|
July 15, 1955
Topper is an American fantasy sitcom television series based on the 1937 film Topper , which was based on two novels Topper and Topper Takes a Trip by Thorne Smith. The series was broadcast on CBS from October 9, 1953, to July 15, 1955, and stars Leo G. Carroll in the title role. It finished at #24 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1954–1955 season.Topper also earned an Emmy nomination for Best Situation Comedy in 1954.
Sophisticated but stuffy Cosmo Topper (Carroll) is the vice president of City Bank, married to sweet (but rather clueless) Henrietta (Lee Patrick). They live in a Los Angeles house they bought from the estate of a young couple, George and Marion Kerby (real life husband and wife Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys), who died after being swept away by an avalanche. A St. Bernard, Neil, who attempted to rescue them also died with them. Topper discovers his new home is haunted by the ghosts of the former occupants as well as Neil. Strangely, he is the only one able to see or hear them. Neil, the St. Bernard, loves martinis and a running gag is the invisible dog lapping up the drink.
The Kerbys try to bring some excitement and joy into the life of stodgy and conservative Topper. The ghosts cause strange (but humorous) events to happen, which an embarrassed Cosmo has to try to explain to others baffled—and even frightened—by them.
The Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim wrote eleven episodes for Topper's first season with George Oppenheimer. The show's producer was John W. Loveton, with his agent, Bernard L. Schubert, credited as co-producer.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco's Camel cigarettes was the show's sponsor; the Kerbys were seen smoking in every episode, as required by Reynolds; the actors, along with Carroll, also appeared in integrated commercials promoting the product at the end of the show, as well as announcing where free cartons of Camels were being sent to various military bases and veterans hospitals each week. Both ABC and NBC aired repeats of these episodes (ABC in 1955 and NBC in 1956).
There were at least three forms of the opening announcement: "Camel — America's first choice among cigarettes — presents Topper. Starring — as Marion Kerby, the loveliest ghost in town — Anne Jeffreys. As George Kerby, the liveliest ghost in town — Robert Sterling. And Leo G. Carroll as Topper [a dog bark is heard]. Oh, yes, and ahh... the deadliest ghost, Neil".
In another opening, the announcer adds, "And there are only three people in the world who can see or hear them — you and I... and Cosmo Topper".
When Topper was shown in repeats, Anne Jeffreys was introduced as "the ghostess with the mostest"; Robert Sterling as "that most sporty spirit," and Leo G. Carroll as "host to said ghosts."
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||1||"Topper Meets the Ghosts"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer and Philip Rapp||October 9, 1953|
|With Lyle Talbot as Mr. Moulton|
|2||2||"The Movers"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer,|
|October 16, 1953|
|3||3||"Hiring the Maid"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer and Stephen Sondheim||October 23, 1953|
|With Barbara Knudsen as Lola / Kathleen Freeman as Katie|
|4||4||"The Hypnotist"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer||October 30, 1953|
|With Maude Prickett as Amelia|
|5||5||"Reducing"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer||November 6, 1953|
|With Steve Reeves as Joe Manurki|
|6||6||"The Spinster"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer||November 13, 1953|
|With Mary Field as Thelma Gibney / Hugh Beaumont as Ed Merrill / Lewis Martin as Dr. Lang|
|7||7||"Bank Securities"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer||November 20, 1953|
|With Thurston Hall as Mr. Schuyler / Clancy Cooper as Upperson|
|8||8||"The Kid"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer||November 27, 1953|
|With Kathleen Freeman as Katie / Ann Doran as Mrs. Welch / Billy Chapin as Timmy Welch|
|9||9||"Burglar"||Philip Rapp|| George Oppenheimer / Stephen Sondheim |
and Hendrik Vollaerts / Story by Robert Thomsen
|December 4, 1953|
|With Ed Dearing as Chief McGraw / Jess Kirkpatrick as The Burglar|
|10||10||"Uncle Jonathan"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer||December 11, 1953|
|11||11||"The Car Story"||Leslie Goodwins||George Oppenheimer,|
|December 18, 1953|
|12||12||"Christmas Carol"||Paul Landres||George Oppenheimer||December 25, 1953|
|With Kathleen Freeman as Katie / Mary Field as Thelma Gibney / Frank Ferguson as Dr. Lang / uncredited: Billy Chapin as Neighborhood Boy and Tiny Tim in Dream|
|13||13||"Masquerade"||Lew Landers||George Oppenheimer,|
|January 1, 1954|
|14||14||"Second Honeymoon"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer / Story by Donn Mullally||January 8, 1954|
|With Mary Field as Thelma Gibney / Guy Wilkerson as Luke / Juney Ellis as Miss Loomis|
|15||15||"The Socialite"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer and Stephen Sondheim||January 15, 1954|
|With Natalie Schafer as Mrs. Vance / John Eldredge as Mr. Vance|
|16||16||"The Surprise Party"||Lew Landers||George Oppenheimer||January 22, 1954|
|17||17||"Decorating"||Lew Landers||George Oppenheimer and Stephen Sondheim||January 29, 1954|
|With Kathleen Freeman as Katie / Mary Field as Thelma Gibney / Paul Bryar as Mr. Charles|
|18||18||"Astrology"||Lew Landers||George Oppenheimer,|
|February 5, 1954|
|19||19||"Trip to Lisbon"||Lew Landers||Stephen Sondheim and George Oppenheimer||February 12, 1954|
|With Thurston Hall as Mr. Schuyler / Hugh Sanders as Mr. Devon / Angela Greene as Mrs. Devon / Lillian Bronson as Miss Erskine / William Walker as The Porter|
|20||20||"The Proposal"||Lew Landers||George Oppenheimer||February 19, 1954|
|With Kathleen Freeman as Katie / James Parnell as The Policeman|
|21||21||"Katie's Nephew"||TBA||George Oppenheimer||February 26, 1954|
|22||22||"College Reunion"||Lew Landers||Norman Paul||March 5, 1954|
|23||23||"Economy"||TBA||TBA||March 12, 1954|
|24||24||"The Diamond Ring"||Leslie Goodwins||Philip Rapp||March 19, 1954|
|25||25||"Topper Runs for Mayor"||Paul Landres||Philip Rapp||March 26, 1954|
|26||26||"The Painting"||Paul Landres||George Oppenheimer||April 2, 1954|
|with Raymond Greenleaf as Dr. Remington / Tom Browne Henry as Mr. Simeon / Steve Darrell as Guard / Robert Pike as Curator|
|27||27||"Henrietta Sells the House"||Lew Landers||Philip Rapp||April 9, 1954|
|with Kathleen Freeman as Katie / Thurston Hall as Mr. Schuyler / Don Beddoe as Mr. Newby / Katherine Warren as Mrs. Newby / Anthony Sydes as Orville / Isa Ashdown as Arabelle|
|28||28||"Legacy"||Paul Landres||Robert Riley Crutcher||April 16, 1954|
|With Kathleen Freeman as Katie / Arthur Space as Mr. Jackson / Douglas Wood as Judge / James Parnell as Delivery Man|
|29||29||"Topper Goes to Las Vegas"||Lew Landers||Stanley Davis and Elon Packard||April 23, 1954|
| The episode opens with Topper coming down the stairs of his house, about to leave for work as he, Marion and George are clearly engaged in conversation, but the soundtrack only consists of descriptive narration [by uncredited Sandy Becker]: "This is Cosmo Topper, bank vice-president, loving husband and... no, he's not a magician — George and Marion Kerby are doing that — ghosts — yes, a handsome couple who were swallowed by an avalanche and came back to spread a little joy into a sedate businessman's life... and that's their ghost dog, Neil, the St. Bernard who couldn't save them — that's what you get for drinking on the job, old boy. Aren't they a wonderful bunch? And just think — Topper is the only person in the whole world who can see or hear them — except you and I, of course. Well, it's off to the bank for Topper. What a way to start the day".|
with Thurston Hall as Mr. Schuyler / Paul Bryar as Lafferty / Lee Roberts as Martin / G. Pat Collins as Olaf Larsen / Arthur Lovejoy as Clerk
|30||30||"Topper Goes West"||Lew Landers||Philip Rapp||April 30, 1954|
|With Thurston Hall as Mr. Schuyler / Harry Shannon as Foreman / Frank Sully as Charley / William Cottrell as Van Horn / John Dierkes as Cowboy|
|31||31||"Sweepstakes"||Paul Landres||Robert Riley Crutcher||May 7, 1954|
|With Thurston Hall as Mr. Schuyler / Charles Lane as Mr. Kittler / Nana Bryant as Woman / Charles Williams as Harlon|
|32||32||"The Package"||Paul Landres||Joel Rapp||May 14, 1954|
|33||33||"Neil Disappears"||TBA||Philip Rapp||May 21, 1954|
|34||34||"The Picnic"||Lew Landers||George Oppenheimer||May 28, 1954|
|35||35||"The Wedding"||Lew Landers||Robert Riley Crutcher||June 4, 1954|
|36||36||"Preparations for Europe"||James V. Kern||George Oppenheimer,|
|June 11, 1954|
|The episode opens with Topper, about to leave for work, entering the living room to say goodbye to Henrietta, but the soundtrack only consists of descriptive narration [by uncredited Sandy Becker]: "Morning, Topper! Seen your two ghost friends yet? There they are, folks... George and Marion Kerby... you'd never believe it, but they were swallowed by an avalanche on their fifth wedding anniversary... That's Neil the alcoholic Saint Bernard... he went with them... Ain't love grand? You see, the Kerbys and Neil have come back to spread a little joy into Topper's rather sedate life... and he's the only one who can see or hear them... outside of you and I, naturally. Well, I... I guess Topper's off to the bank. Uh oh... that's a sure sign something's cooking... when a woman gets on the phone, there's no use talking... let's listen...|
|37||37||"The Boat"||Richard L. Bare||George Oppenheimer||June 18, 1954|
|38||38||"Theatricals"||Lew Landers||George Oppenheimer,|
|June 25, 1954|
|39||39||"George's Old Flame"||Lew Landers||George Oppenheimer and Stephen Sondheim||July 2, 1954|
|with Kathleen Freeman as Katie / Mira McKinney as Mrs. Baskerville / Thurston Hall as Mr. Schuyler / Frances Rafferty as Ellen Bates / James Seay as Larry Hartford / uncredited (in order of appearance): Lillian Bronson as Miss Erskine / Renny McEvoy as Waiter / Roland Varno as Maitre'd|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|40||1||"Topper Tells All"||Philip Rapp||George Oppenheimer,|
|October 8, 1954|
|41||2||"Topper's Ransom"||Philip Rapp||Robert Riley Crutcher||October 15, 1954|
|42||3||"County Fair"||Philip Rapp||Philip Rapp||October 22, 1954|
|43||4||"The Seance"||Leslie Goodwins||Robert Thomsen||October 29, 1954|
|44||5||"Topper Strikes Gold"||Lew Landers||Philip Rapp||November 5, 1954|
|45||6||"The Chess Player"||TBA||Sig Herzig||November 12, 1954|
|46||7||"Topper Goes to Washington"||Leslie Goodwins||Philip Rapp||November 19, 1954|
|47||8||"Jury Duty"||TBA||Robert Riley Crutcher||November 26, 1954|
|48||9||"Topper Lives Again"||Leslie Goodwins||Robert Riley Crutcher||December 3, 1954|
|49||10||"The Army Game"||TBA||Donn Mullally||December 10, 1954|
|50||11||"Topper's Accident"||Lew Landers||Robert Riley Crutcher||December 17, 1954|
|51||12||"Topper's Quiet Christmas"||Leslie Goodwins||Robert Riley Crutcher||December 24, 1954|
|52||13||"Topper's Happy New Year"||Lew Landers||Robert Riley Crutcher,|
|December 31, 1954|
|53||14||"Topper's Deception"||Leslie Goodwins||Robert Riley Crutcher||January 7, 1955|
|54||15||"Topper's Guest"||Leslie Goodwins||Stanley Davis,|
|January 14, 1955|
|55||16||"Topper's Rejuvenation"||Lew Landers||Stanley Davis,|
|January 21, 1955|
|56||17||"Topper in Mexico"||Lew Landers||Robert Riley Crutcher||January 28, 1955|
|57||18||"Topper Hits the Road"||Leslie Goodwins||Stanley Davis,|
|February 4, 1955|
|58||19||"Topper at the Races"||Lew Landers||Norman Paul||February 11, 1955|
|59||20||"Topper's Racket"||Leslie Goodwins||Philip Rapp||February 18, 1955|
|60||21||"Topper's Amnesia"||Leslie Goodwins||Robert Riley Crutcher||February 25, 1955|
|61||22||"Topper's Arabian Night"||Leslie Goodwins||Robert Riley Crutcher||March 4, 1955|
|62||23||"The House Wreckers"||Leslie Goodwins||Philip Rapp||March 11, 1955|
|63||24||"Topper Makes a Movie"||Lew Landers||Philip Rapp||March 18, 1955|
|64||25||"King Cosmo the First"||Lew Landers||Philip Rapp||March 23, 1955|
|65||26||"Topper's Double Life"||TBA||Philip Rapp||March 30, 1955|
|66||27||"Topper Fights a Duel"||Lew Landers||Philip Rapp||April 8, 1955|
|67||28||"Topper's Egyptian Deal"||Leslie Goodwins||Robert Riley Crutcher||April 15, 1955|
|68||29||"Topper's Uranium Pile"||Leslie Goodwins||Donn Mullally||April 22, 1955|
|69||30||"Topper's Spring Cleaning"||Leslie Goodwins||Robert Riley Crutcher||April 29, 1955|
|70||31||"Topper Goes to School"||Leslie Goodwins||Philip Rapp||May 6, 1955|
|71||32||"The Blood Brother"||Lew Landers||Stanley Davis,|
|May 13, 1955|
|72||33||"Topper's Highland Fling"||Leslie H. Martinson||Robert Riley Crutcher||May 20, 1955|
|73||34||"Topper's Desert Island"||Leslie Goodwins||Robert Riley Crutcher||May 27, 1955|
|74||35||"The Neighbors"||Leslie Goodwins||George Oppenheimer||June 3, 1955|
|75||36||"Topper's Counterfeiters"||Leslie H. Martinson||Robert Riley Crutcher||June 10, 1955|
|76||37||"Topper's Insurance Scandal"||Lew Landers||Sig Herzig||June 17, 1955|
|77||38||"Topper's Other Job"||Lew Landers||Philip Rapp||June 24, 1955|
|78||39||"Topper's Vacation"||Lew Landers||Robert Riley Crutcher||July 15, 1955|
Topper was popular in syndication for more than a decade. Camel commercials and their references were removed but the characters could still be seen smoking them.
The pilot episode, "Topper Meets the Ghosts", and the second episode, "The Movers", were broadcast on the Decades network on August 11, 2018.
Collections of episodes in the public domain have been released on DVD but the series has not been given a full release.
James Thorne Smith, Jr. was an American writer of humorous supernatural fantasy fiction under the byline Thorne Smith. He is best known today for the two Topper novels, comic fantasy fiction involving sex, much drinking and ghosts. With racy illustrations, these sold millions of copies in the 1930s and were equally popular in paperbacks of the 1950s.
Leo Gratten Carroll was an English actor. He was best known for his roles in six Hitchcock films including Spellbound, Strangers on a Train and North by Northwest, and in three television series, Topper, Going My Way, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. He is name checked in the song "Science Fiction/Double Feature" from The Rocky Horror Show with the line "I knew Leo G. Carroll was over a barrel".
Kojak is an American action crime drama television series starring Telly Savalas as the title character, New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak. Taking the time slot of the popular Cannon series, it aired on CBS from 1973 to 1978.
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The Marlboro Man is a figure used in tobacco advertising campaigns for Marlboro cigarettes. In the United States, where the campaign originated, it was used from 1954 to 1999. The Marlboro Man was first conceived by Leo Burnett in 1954. The images initially featured rugged men portrayed in a variety of roles but later primarily featured a rugged cowboy or cowboys, in picturesque wild terrain. The advertisements were originally conceived as a way to popularize filtered cigarettes, which at the time were considered feminine.
Topper is a 1937 American supernatural comedy film directed by Norman Z. McLeod, starring Constance Bennett and Cary Grant and featuring Roland Young. It tells the story of a stuffy, stuck-in-his-ways man who is haunted by the ghosts of a fun-loving married couple.
Lee Patrick was an American actress whose career began in 1922 on the New York stage with her role in The Bunch and Judy which headlined Adele Astaire and featured Adele's brother Fred Astaire. Patrick continued to perform in dozens of roles on the stage for the next decade, frequently in musicals and comedies, but also in dramatic parts like her 1931 performance as Meg in Little Women. She began to branch out into films in 1929. For half a century she created a credible body of cinematic work, her most memorable being as Sam Spade's assistant Effie in The Maltese Falcon (1941), and her reprise of the role in the George Segal comedy sequel The Black Bird (1975). Her talents were showcased in comedies such as the Jack Benny film George Washington Slept Here (1942) and as one of the foils of Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame (1958). Dramatic parts such as an asylum inmate in The Snake Pit (1948) and as Pamela Tiffin's mother in the Summer and Smoke (1961) were another facet of her repertoire. She made numerous guest roles in American television, but became a staple for that medium during the two-year run of Topper. As Henrietta Topper, her comedic timing played well against Leo G. Carroll as her husband, and against that of the two ghosts played by Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys. Patrick lent her voice to various animated characters of The Alvin Show in the early 1960s.
Anne Jeffreys was an American actress and singer. She was noted as the female lead in the 1950s TV series Topper.
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Robert Sterling was an American actor. He was best known for starring in the television series Topper (1953–1955).
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Gauloises, is a brand of cigarette of French manufacture. It is produced by the company Imperial Tobacco following its acquisition of Altadis in January 2008 in most countries, but produced and sold by Reemtsma in Germany.
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Man Against Crime starring Ralph Bellamy, one of the first television programs about private eyes, ran on CBS, the DuMont Television Network and NBC from October 7, 1949, to June 27, 1954, and was briefly revived, starring Frank Lovejoy, during 1956. The show was created by Lawrence Klee and was broadcast live until 1952. The series was one of the few television programs ever to have been simulcast on more than one network: the program aired on both NBC and DuMont during the 1953–54 television season.
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The Adventures of Topper is a radio situation comedy in the United States. It was broadcast on NBC June 7, 1945 - September 13, 1945, as a summer replacement for Dinah Shore's program.
Love That Jill is an American situation comedy that aired on ABC during the 1957-1958 television season. The series stars Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling as the heads of rival modeling agencies in Manhattan.