As promised, here’s the remainder of the various characters and catchphrases used in animated cartoons from Fibber McGee and Molly, and in its spin-off series The Great Gildersleeve!
Instead of a character saying “et cetera” to indicate the end of a list, Fibber would say, “…and all sorts of stuff like that there.” This wasn’t designated just to Fibber; other characters uttered this alternative, such as Teeny and Nick Depopulis, the Greek restaurant owner voiced by Bill Thompson. This was referenced in various cartoons for the same purpose, but in 1945, Betty Hutton performed the song “Stuff Like That There” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, which gives this catchphrase almost overt sexual connotations, undoubtedly to appease the American soldiers.
Around the same period Bill Thompson used his “Old Timer” voice for Baby Face Mouse’s grandfather in Arabs with Dirty Fezzes (1939), produced by Walter Lantz, he also lent his voice to a W.C. Fields-esque mouse offering a sky ride tour of a closed department store in Little Blabbermouse and Shop, Look and Listen, both released in 1940. In both films, Thompson referenced his character, Horatio K. Boomer, a con man that spoke his dialogue in a delivery similar to Fields. In many of Boomer’s appearances, he would enter the McGees’ house, but would fail to locate a missing card, paper or any different item relevant to a certain situation called for in the broadcast.In 1941, the show debuted another supporting character— the timid, henpecked husband Wallace Wimple. He would often visit the McGee house as a sanctuary to avoid his overbearing wife, whom he nicknamed “Sweetie-Face.” Wimple’s role in the show was a prime example of something already an American comedy staple—with roots in vaudeville—and which became influential in ‘40s cartoons: brow-beaten husbands with bad-tempered wives. Bob Clampett’s The Wise-Quacking Duck (1943) and Friz Freleng’s Life with Feathers (1945) feature similar characters with wives nicknamed “Sweetie Puss.” At Famous Studios, three cartoons (The Henpecked Rooster, Scrappily Married and Sudden Fried Rooster) featured Henry the Rooster (re-named Hector in the third cartoon) continuously battered and beaten by his large wife, Chicken Pie.
Thompson’s voice for Wimple led to his most significant role in animated cartoons, when he voiced Droopy for Tex Avery in the series’ first cartoon, Dumb-Hounded (1943). Thompson’s sad, monotone voice perfectly suited the character but its delivery isn’t exactly like Wimple’s. He continued to use this voice for Avery in Big-Heel Watha (1944), but his enlistment in the Navy in 1943 halted his career in radio and animation. Upon his arrival back, he continued to voice Droopy, starting with Senor Droopy (1949), and used this voice to a great effect for Disney, with characters such as The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Mr. Smee in Peter Pan (1953), and Ranger Woodlore in a series of cartoons with Humphrey the Bear.By 1944, the McGee household employed an African-American maid named Beulah on the show, played by a white actor named Marlin Hurt. He previously used this type of character for various radio shows in the mid-‘30s and early ‘40s, and was discovered by show writer Don Quinn during a broadcast of the summer replacement program, The Fred Brady Show. Compared to Molly, who usually scorned at her husband’s jokes, Beulah reacted with screeching laughter and shout, “Love dat man!” As Beulah became a hit with audiences, she stopped appearing on Fibber McGee and Molly in the summer of 1945, and was given her own show, The Marlin Hurt and Beulah Show, where Hurt doubled as her loafer boyfriend Bill. Near the end of its first season, Hurt suffered a heart attack and died in 1946, with the role being assumed by Bob Corley. By that time, Beulah’s catchphrase had been referenced in some of Bob Clampett’s final cartoons such as The Great Piggy Bank Robbery and The Big Snooze.
Perhaps the most durable supporting character on Fibber McGee and Molly was Thockmorton P. Gildersleeve, performed by Harold Peary. He assumed various roles on the show before becoming Gildersleeve, the McGees’ next-door neighbor who served as a nemesis to Fibber. In many episodes, when the two were not bickering, he would purposefully undermine Fibber’s plans for his own gain. Whenever Fibber uttered a firm statement towards Gildersleeve, he would respond with, “You’re a ha-a-a-ard man, McGee!” He also possessed a cunning laugh, which became synonymous with the character itself.
Gildersleeve proved so popular with audiences that he was given his own show in 1941, entitled The Great Gildersleeve — one of the earliest spin-off series in broadcast history. Sponsored by Kraft Foods’ Parkay Margarine, the show follows Gildersleeve managing the estate of his obnoxious nephew and niece. His demeanor—and laugh—would be spoofed in many cartoons throughout the 1940s, such as One Ham’s Family (1943/MGM; performed by Kent Rogers) and Hare Conditioned (WB/1945; voiced by Dave Barry), where Bugs remarks that a department store manager sounds like “The Great Gilder-sneeze.”
For Hot Spot (1945), one of the Private SNAFU cartoons intended for the Army, Harold Peary lent his voice for a Gildersleeve-esque devil that observes American soldiers sending Lend Lease supplies to Russia from the sweltering country of Iran. It seems that the films intended for the general public were given imitations of Gildersleeve, while men in service were offered the real person as an added bonus.
A year later, the Gildersleeve show acquired a drugstore with its proprietor, the modest but patronizing Richard Q. Peavey, played by Richard LeGrand. As Gildersleeve spoke with Peavey and lent his outrageous affirmations, Peavey would belittle him with, “Well, now, I wouldn’t say that…” which was famously referenced by the “Little Man from the Draft Board” in Bob Clampett’s Draftee Daffy (1945).
Born in 1921, Walter Tetley, an adult actor known for his juvenile impersonations, began his radio career at New York as a child performer in the early 1930s. He performed his “wisecracker” character type with such actors as Jack Benny, W. C. Fields and Fred Allen. In 1938, Tetley moved to the West Coast with Allen and stayed there to act in films and radio. In its early developmental stages, he auditioned for the role of Disney’s Pinocchio, in test dialogue recordings that indicated a more spoiled title character.
Tetley made brief appearances on Fibber McGee and Molly, and became a cast member on the talk show The Grouch Club, with Arthur Q. Bryan and Jack Lescoulie, on Warners’ radio station KFWB. Various cartoons used actors from the show, including Arthur Q. Bryan, and Tetley lent his voice for Tex Avery’s The Haunted Mouse (1941).
Shortly after, Tetley landed the role of Gildersleeve’s precocious nephew Leroy Forrester, and remained for much of the show’s run, which ended in the mid-’50s. Tetley also voiced Andy Panda for Walter Lantz on such films as The Painter and the Pointer (1944) and Apple Andy (1946). He continued a career in animation, voicing Sherman in the “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” segments for Jay Ward’s Rocky and Bullwinkle.
Harold Peary continued to perform as The Great Gildersleeve until 1950, when the show moved from NBC to CBS. Gildersleeve was then played by Willard Waterman, and would appear in the 1955 television version of the show, which lasted only a year. The radio series ended in 1958. Meanwhile, Fibber McGee and Molly ran as a stand-alone radio series until 1956, when it was continued in short-form segments of NBC’s Monitor from 1957-59, as Just Molly and Me. Unlike popular radio stars like Jack Benny, Jim and Marian Jordan never made the transition to television, mostly due to Marian’s deteriorating health. After Marian died in 1961, Jim Jordan went into acting on-screen for television and lent his voice for the Disney animated feature The Rescuers (1977), as Orville the albatross.
Here’s the Radio Round-Up video for this week! Again, I remind all readers that this video might not include every instance where a certain radio character or catchphrase is mentioned in animated cartoons.
“And all kinds of things and stuff like that there…” — clips used: Hobo Gadget Band (WB/1939), To Duck or Not to Duck (WB/1943), Kitty Kornered (WB/1946)
Horatio K. Boomer reference—clip used from Little Blabbermouse (WB/1940).
Wallace Wimple reference—clip used from The Wise-Quacking Duck (WB/1943).
“Love dat man!” — clips used: The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (WB/1946), Little ‘Tinker (MGM/1948), Old Rockin’ Chair Tom (MGM/1948) and The Big Snooze (WB/1946)
“You’re a ha-a-a-ard man, McGee!” and other Gildersleeve references—clips used: A Coy Decoy (WB/1941), One Ham’s Family (MGM/1943), The Loan Stranger (Lantz/1942) and Hare Conditioned (WB/1945).
“Well, now, I wouldn’t say that…” — clips used: Draftee Daffy (WB/1945), A Gruesome Twosome (WB/1945), The Old Grey Hare (WB/1944) and The Bashful Buzzard (WB/1945).
Walter Tetley—clip used: The Painter and the Pointer (Lantz/1944).
(Thanks to Keith Scott, Andrew Gilmore, and J. B. Kaufman for their help.)