The Life of Riley began with an audition taping on July 25, 1943 after its creation by Irving Brecher. Over the course of roughly 320 episodes, it established itself as one of the most enduringly funny sitcoms on Old Time Radio. It's final episode on ABC aired on July 8, 1945. After moving to the NBC radio network, it aired again from August 8, 1945 until its final episode aired on June 29, 1951.
The main character, Chester A. Riley, was played by William Bendix. His wife, Peg, his son, Junior, and his daughter, Babs, were all played by more than one actor. Both his co-worker/neighbor, Gillis, as well as audience favorite, Digby "Digger" O'Dell (the "friendly undertaker") were both played by John Brown. At various times it was sponsored by the American Meat Institute, Teel Dentifrice, Dreft, Prell Shampoo, and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.
Gunsmoke was created by director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston at the behest of CBS's programming chief, Hubell Robinson. His boss, CBS chairman William S. Paley, was a fan of another classic CBS program, The Adventures of Philip Marlowe. Robinson had suggested to the West Coast CBS Vice-President, Harry Ackerman, who had developed the Philip Marlowe series, to create a
The new version cast the inimitable William Conrad as Marshal Matt Dillon, Howard McNear as Doc Charles Adams, Georgia Ellis as Kitty Russell and Parley Baer as deputy Chester Proudfoot. The writers sought to create the first realistic western, one populated by sociopaths and without untarnished heroes. Stories unflinchingly depicted rape, lynchings, murder, prostitution, scalping, massacres, theft, drug addiction and more. Justice was often not served.
NEW YORK ERA
When the program debuted, it was produced in New York City. Clover was portrayed by actor Anthony Ross, a New York native and veteran of film and stage. His greatest exposure came playing the role of the Gentleman Caller in the 1944 original run of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.
The series' theme song was an instrumental rendition of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Manhattan" and it was scored by Robert Stringer, a Nebraska-born composer who primarily wrote stock music for B-films, nearly always uncredited.
It featured scripts by Wisconsin-born (and later blacklisted) Peter Lyon, production by Lester Gottlieb, direction (and later production) by direction by Casey, Crime Photographer's John Dietz. Bern Bennet was the original announcer.
Today is the birthday of radio and voice actor Bill Thompson. Although he also sang for a bit with The Sinclair Weiner Minstrels, he was best known for voicing the characters Wallace Wimple and Droopy Dog.
William H. Thompson was born on July 8, 1913, in Terre Haute, Indiana to a Vaudevillian family. Bill began his career making regular appearances on Don McNeill’s variety show, The Breakfast Club, on Chicago radio in 1934.
Around 1936, he joined the cast of Fibber McGee and Molly, where he played several characters including Widdicomb Blotto (aka Horatio K. Boomer) and Nick Depopulis. In 1937 he introduced The Old Timer, whose classic statement, “That's pretty good, Johnny, but that ain't the way I heeerd it!” became a national catch phrase. In 1941, McGee’s frequent foil, Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, left the show to star in his own sitcom, The Great Gildersleeve.
Thompson ultimately reintroduced Mr. Wimple in 1941 to fill "The Great Man’s" newly-created vacancy. Wallace Wimple was a henpecked milquetoast who lived in fear of his abusive, oft-discussed but never seen/heard wife, “Sweetie Face.” His mush-mouthed greeting, “Hello, folks,” was another big laugh-getter and inspired Tex Avery to build a character around his voice. The result was one of MGM’s most enduring cartoon characters, Droopy Dog. The jowly Droopy Dog was one of the most beloved cartoon characters of all time; he was a mild-mannered basset hound who was usually motivated by his romantic pursuit of various beautiful, vaguely disturbing anthropomorphic beauties. Given his lethargic demeanor and small stature, he was frequently exposed to bullying which would provoke hilarious displays of surprising physical strength, albeit meted out with his normal, stone-faced stoicism.