Next on the Program is a tribute to Gale Gordon March 7, 2007Posted by William Spear in >> Next on the Program, >> Radio Drama.
Long before his Theodore J. Mooney character was bellowing, “MRS. CARMICHAEL!” at Lucille Ball, Gale Gordon was one of the busiest – and highest paid – radio actors in Hollywood.
Born in New York City in 1906 and raised in England, Gordon overcame a cleft palate and started a Broadway career with The Dancers in the 1920s. In 1926 he began performing on radio and his career exploded.
Gale was sometimes working in twenty to thirty dramatic shows a week. In 1933, he was the highest paid radio actor. In 1935, he was Flash Gordon. In the same year he was opposite Mary Pickford in her series.
In 1941 he was cast as Mayor LaTrivia on Fibber McGee & Molly and for 12 seasons delighted audiences with his comic outbursts. In 1948, he was cast as the withering Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks. He was Inspector Lestrade in The New Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.
Toss in leads for programs such as Granby’s Green Acres and The Casebook Of Gregory Hood and regular appearances on The Great Gildersleeve, Front Page Drama, Old Gold Time – The Bickersons, Speed Gibson Of The International Secret Police, and The Shadow Of Fu Manchu. He also starred on shows such as The Lux Radio Theatre, The March Of Time, and The Fabulous Doctor Tweedy.
Gordon’s performance credits spanned genre from comedy to drama to mystery. Early in his career he developed a relationship with Lucille Ball which unsuccessfully led to him be her first choice for Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy. Years later, when she was on her own and developing The Lucy Show, he was cast as Arthur J. Mooney. For the balance of his career, the two performed together.
Gale Gordon died in 1995 and in 1999 was posthumously inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame where he was recognized as “One of radio’s surest laugh-getters.”
For a performer whose characters were often over the top with bellicose ferocity, such a tribute is gracefully understated.
Amazingly, the following is an excerpt of Gale Gordon’s radio credits:
- A Day In The Life Of Dennis Day
- Big Town
- Blackstone The Magic Detective
- Calling All Cars
- Captains Of Industry
- Fibber McGee and Molly – as Mayor LaTrivia
- Front Page Drama
- Granby’s Green Acres – as Granby
- Johnny Madero, Pier 23
- Life With Luigi
- Mama Bloom’s Brood
- Mary Pickford and Company – opposite Mary Pickford
- Maxwell House Coffee Time
- Mr. and Mrs. Blandings
- My Favorite Husband
- My Little Margie
- Old Gold Time presents The Bickersons
- Our Miss Brooks – as Osgood Conklin
- Richard Diamond, Private Detective
- Seal of the Don
- Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police
- Strange Adventures
- Sweethearts of the Circus
- Tarzan of the Apes
- The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
- The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures Of Flash Gordon – as Flash Gordon
- The Casebook of Gregory Hood – as Gregory Hood
- The Cavalcade of America
- The Fabulous Doctor Tweedy
- The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
- The Great Gildersleeve
- The Lux Radio Theatre
- The March of Time
- The NBC University Theatre
- The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – as Inspector Lestrade
- The Orson Welles Theatre
- The Shadow of Fu Manchu
- The Theatre Guild on the Air
- The Whistler
- Wake Island
- Your Red Cross Roll Call
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