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Gale Gordon

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Gale Gordon, left, with Jim Jordan on radio's Fibber McGee and Molly

Gale Gordon (1906-1995) was an actor in radio and television, specializing in stuffy, short-tempered foils. Typical of these was banker Mr. Mooney opposite Lucille Ball on The Lucy Show (1963-1968), which became his best known role. He played the same basic part, under different names, opposite Ball on Here's Lucy, the 1977 special Lucy Calls the President, and her final series, Life with Lucy.

He became so associated with Ball that a script for a second season Sesame Street insert called for Lucille to obey the words on a blackboard and MOP, eventually sticking the mop in the face of Gale Gordon (who "grandly erases" the M, adds ST, and produces a gong to draw her attention to the word STOP).[1]

Gordon began his career on old-time radio, sometimes playing dramatic parts (such as Flash Gordon or the district attorney on Big Town), but he soon became known for playing pompous stuffed shirts who would simmer before exploding. The tongue-tied Mayor LaTrivia on Fibber McGee and Molly (1941-1942, again from 1945- 1953) set the pace, followed by Rexall sponsor Mr. Scott on The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show (1948-1950), Antagonistic neighbor Rumson Bullard on The Great Gildersleeve (1948-1952), and banker Rudolph Atterbury on My Favorite Husband (1948-1951), his first collaboration with Lucille Ball. All of these windbag roles culminated in a long stint as pompous principal Mr. Osgood Conklin opposite Eve Arden as Our Miss Brooks (on radio from 1948-1954, TV from 1952-1956, and the 1956 film).

In fact, Gordon was the first choice for Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy, but had top decline due to his Our Miss Brooks commitment. He did appear twice on Lucy, as club owner Mr. Littlefield, and again as a judge on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. He became the second Mr. Wilson on Dennis the Menace (1962-1963), before re-teaming with Ball. Gordon's film work took a backseat to radio and television, but his occasional ventures were mostly in such oddly assorted titles as Here Come the Nelsons (a vehicle for Ozzie and Harriet), Francis Covers the Big Town (with the talking mule), The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (Lou Costello's only solo movie), the Elvis vehicle Speedway, Sergeant Deadhead (reunited with Eve Arden as foils to Frankie Avalon), and being annoyed by Jerry Lewis in Don't Give Up the Ship and Visit to a Small Planet. His final film was Joe Dante's The 'Burbs (1989), as dog-loving neighbor Walter.

References

Sources

  1. Lucille Ball script, referencing Gale Gordon from CTW Archives

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