George Gobel Show
George Gobel was an absolutely unique comedian. Small in statue with an easy-going, low-key personality and a short, bristle-brush haircut, this quick-witted man began as a radio star then maintained a charming presence on television from the 1950s to the '80s.
His mild mannered folksiness was in sharp contrast to the fast-talking TV and nightclub comics of post-war America. Although he was born in Chicago, IL (no small town, that) he played up his mid-western roots and incorporated country & western music into his act. The sight of his diminutive form juxtaposed with a comically large guitar was humorous in and of itself, but then he would launch into a tenor vocal solo (complete with yodeling) and leave the audience in hysterics. Gobel's comic style was a self-deprecating one with him lamenting the woes of his day-to-day life and often identifying himself as "Your Old Friend Lonesome George."
The Emmy-winning George Gobel Show (1954-1960) was an early example of breaking the fourth wall and blending variety TV with the situation comedy format. George would open with a monologue introducing topical story elements about his (fictionalized) life. When the curtain parted behind him to reveal a domestic set George would seamlessly transition into a sketch that would put the concept on its feet. His wife - who he famously referred to as "Spooky Old Alice" - was portrayed by Jeff Donnell in most episodes, although Angela Lansbury once filled the spousal role. "Pretty, Perky" Peggy King was the show's girl singer and the Musical Director's spot was amply occupied by John Scott Trotter.
George was a WWII veteran, having served as a Pilot Instructor. His military exploits occasionally provided fodder for flashback sketches on his show. His many guests included Fred MacMurray, Henry Fonda, Vincent Price, Jackie Cooper, Boris Karloff, Debbie Reynolds, Kirk Douglas, Jimmy Stewart, Leo Durocher, Vampira, George Liberace, Charles Coburn, Tony Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Mickey Rooney, Fess Parker, Ernie Kovacs, Edie Adams, Peter Lorre, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mort Sahl, Jack Benny, Marilyn Maxwell and Joe Flynn.
Gobel starred in two feature films during the run of his television show (The Birds and the Bees in 1956 and I Married a Woman in 1958), but the small screen remained his most effective medium. The George Gobel Show and the landmark family sit-com Leave It To Beaver were simultaneously produced by Gomalco Productions - George's company in partnership with his business manager David O'Malley. In the years that followed, Gobel was a popular guest star on numerous programs including The Dinah Shore Show, Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, My Three Sons, Hee-Haw and The Hollywood Squares.
George Gobel Show Television Library includes footage of:
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