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In the Corner with Dan Hughes


Jul 26, 2010

Fibber McGee and Molly were one of America's best-loved radio couples. Stars Jim and Marion Jordan were married in real life, and their show was on the air from 1935 to 1959.

Their radio show was as popular as The Lone Ranger, Jack Benny, Gunsmoke, and Burns and Allen, but unlike those programs, Fibber McGee and Molly was not able to adapt itself to television. 

Perhaps it failed because it was better heard than seen.  Fibber McGee and Molly was more "sound-oriented" than other radio shows.

For example, Jim Jordan was a wizard at delivering extended alliteration at breakneck speed, and he was also a professional punster.  No picture is required to fully appreciate either of these verbal gymnastic techniques.

Also, the most popular running gag of the show was Fibber McGee's closet.  It was stuffed with junk, and whenever it was opened, you heard everything fall out.  The sound effects man would sweep shelf after shelf of umbrellas and bowling balls and pots and pans to the floor, going on for maybe thirty seconds, and it got funnier all the time.

But in real life, gravity isn't that slow.  The closet crash would last only three seconds or so, and the humor was lost.

And finally, when the TV version was cast, new actors were chosen for the parts of Fibber and Molly.  Like David Letterman said (repeatedly) of Val Kilmer, "That ain't Batman."

This episode, Catching a Train, first aired on February 20, 1945.