Friday, March 26, 2010

360 OVERNIGHT: Fibber McGee & Molly

Welcome to another installment of 360 OVERNIGHT - the blog series on selected over nights for people here in the western hemisphere who can't sleep and for our friends around the world....

In this television pilot episode of Fibber McGee and Molly, the McGee's are planning a trip but are having trouble packing everything they want to take with them. Fibber convinces Molly that they need a small two wheel baggage trailer. Molly resists at first but finally gives in.

When Fibber gets snagged by a slick salesman he ends up buying a $9,500 trailer, far more that he can afford. The McGee's buying spree doesn't end there; you could say that money management is not the McGee's strong point.

Fibber McGee is played by Bob Sweeney. Molly is played by Cathy Lewis.

Over the years, Jim and Marian Jordan (the original radio Fibber and Molly) were approached TWICE by NBC to appear in a TV version of their famous radio series- both times, "Fibber" declined (the second time, it was because "Molly" wasn't in the best of health to tackle a weekly TV series...she died in 1961). By 1959, the network owned the rights to the show, and decided to produce their own version, starring veteran radio comedian and character actor Bob Sweeney [he later became a key director of "THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW"].

Cathy Lewis (actor/producer Elliott Lewis' first wife) , who had co-starred with Marie Wilson on the radio and early TV versions of "MY FRIEND IRMA", was chosen to portray "Molly". This is the unaired version of the pilot episode that was first telecast on September 15, 1959. The series was alternately sponsored by Standard Brands {Chase & Sanborn, Blue Bonnet margarine, etc.} and The Singer Company {Singer Sewing Machines}. The announcer heard at the beginning is Bob LeMond.

In the actual series, the title sequence was animated by Art Clokey (the genius behind "GUMBY" and "DAVEY & GOLIATH"), featuring abstract clay figurines representing "Fibber" & "Molly". The theme, Billy Mills' "Wing to Wing", (long familiar to radio audiences), continued to be used, in a different orchestration. The daily 15 minute radio version was on NBC from 1953 through '56, 'Big Red' - 10-10:15 pm/eastern, also heard weekdays at 11:45 am/eastern during 1955-'56.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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