Home Television Comedy Great Gildersleeve, The

Great Gildersleeve, The

1 9 5 5 – 1 9 5 6 (USA)
39 x 30 minute episodes

Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve (“Gildy” for short) was the Water Commissioner of Summerfield.

The moustachioed, cigar-chomping Gildersleeve (Willard Waterman) cared for an orphaned niece and nephew – pretty teenager Marjorie Forrester (Stephanie Griffin) and her mischievous younger brother Leroy (Ronald Keith).

When Leroy misbehaved, “Unc” would let out an elongated “Leeeeeeroyyyyyy.”

Gildy would also emit some interesting sounds when in the presence of beautiful women (mostly high-pitched sighs).

Helping out around the Gildersleeve household at 217 Elm Street was Birdie Lee Coggins, his African American housekeeper played by Lillian Randolph. Others in the cast, seen less frequently, were Willis Bouchey as Mayor Terwilliger (Gildy’s boss); Forrest Lewis as Mr Peavey (Summerfield’s pharmacist); Barbara Stuart as Bessie (Gildy’s young secretary); and Doris Singleton as Lois (Gildy’s regular girlfriend).

In 1941, The Great Gildersleeve (a radio show) became one of the first truly successful spin-offs in broadcast history. Gildersleeve had previously been a long-running character on the radio version of Fibber McGee and Molly.

There were even four “Gildersleeve” movies filmed in the early 1940s. In 1955, Gildersleeve was brought to television. On the radio, he’d been portrayed by both Harold Peary and later by Willard Waterman (who took the lead role in the television adaptation).

Unfortunately, Fibber McGee and Molly and The Great Gildersleeve were unable to make the successful transition from radio to television. Reruns of The Great Gildersleeve ran in the early 1990s on the now-defunct “Nostalgia” cable network.

Throckmorton P. “Gildy” Gildersleeve
Willard Waterman
Marjorie Forrester
Stephanie Griffin
Leroy Forrester 
Ronald Keith
Birdie Lee Coggins
Lillian Randolph
Mayor Terwilliger
Willis Bouchey
Mr JW Peavey
Forrest Lewis
Barbara Stuart
Lois Kimball
Doris Singleton
Judge Hooker
Earl Ross