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MY LITTLE MARGIE was Big News in the Ryan household; or so I thought!
Ohmygosh! Am I ever old now! But then, of course, we must also consider the alternative. You know, Schultz; if it's getting old that bothers you try just thinking about this premise. And pray tell, just what is this alternative? Yeah, that's it, Schultz! The opposite is NOT getting old; which is dying young. One of the "perks" of getting old is that of being to remember occurrences of a relatively long time ago.
That brings us down to (or up to, for those on the West Coast & Pacific Islands) today's "victim", MY LITTLE MARGIE (1952-55). Who or What, you might be saying if you're say under 55.
As hard as it is to believe, MY LITTLE MARGIE sitcom, at the time of its original running on CBS (later NBC), was right up there with all time perennial favourite TV Classic, I LOVE LUCY; which, ironically, the MARGIE Show originated as a "Summer Replacement" Series. (Remember them?)
SIDE BAR! A Summer Replacement Series was just what it sounds like. A series that would be shown in June, July August and maybe the 1st two weeks in September; during which time the regular show would actually go on sabbatical during the Summer vacation! And as a further example of the "stranger than fiction" category, MY LITTLE MARGIE came on as a temporary Summer replacement for I LOVE LUCY! Unbelievable, ain't it?
Now back to our regularly scheduled dissertation!
As for background on the MARGIE Series, it is extensive and well connected to many fine and close relatives on its family tree. The Series was a co-production of Roland Reed Productions with Hal Roach Studios. Mr. Hal Roach the Greater (Sr.) was listed as Producer. Hal Roach's association with film comedy dated back to ca. 1908, when Mr. Roach had worked as an extra, freelancing all around Hollywood. It was during this period that Hal became acquainted with another aspiring Actor by the name of Harold Lloyd. The 2 became fast friends and when Hal came into a small inheritance, which he was to use as the start-up fund$ for opening his own Studio, he remembered Lloyd's ambition, his determination, his talents and his potential.
So, from this humble beginning Hal Roach Studios became the A#1 place to create comedy. Besides the early Harold Lloyd, Roach gave us funny business from Will Rogers, Laurel & Hardy, Charley Chase, 'Snub' Pollard, Patsy Kelly, Thelma Todd, Zasu Pitts, the TOPPER feature films with Roland Young, The Sgt. Doubleday & Sgt. Ames Series with William Tracy and Joe Sawyer.
Now, Television commanded the attention of Roach Studio with Series such as RACKET SQUAD (1951-53), TROUBLE WITH FATHER aka THE STU ERWIN SHOW (1950-55) and AMOS 'N' ANDY (1951-53). It was to this early TV scene that MY LITTLE MARGIE was born.
The premise was simple, but effective. Vern Albright (Charles Farrell) was a widower of about 50ish. He has this 21 year old girl, Margie (Miss Gale Storm), whom he has had to raise all by his self for some years. They live in a luxury Apartment Building, one with elevators and all. Both felt that they had problems, one with the other. For while Vern worried about raising his little girl, Margie had apprehensions about her Pop's being an attractive, youthful and very eligible Male.
A typical episode involves interplay between the Albrights and neighbors, the lovely Roberta Townsend (Miss Hillery Brooke) as Vern's love interest. Some other plots involved interplay with the octogenarian with the 16 year olds attitude, Mrs.Odetts (the amazing Gertrude Hoffman), Margie's beau Freddie Wilson (Don Hayden), Charlie the Elevator Operator (Willie Best) or with Vern Albright's company, the Investment Firm of Honeywell & Todd with Mr. Honeywell (Clarence Kolb) and Mr. Todd (George Meader). As we said an episode would involve one or perhaps all of these elements. And, just for good measure, a lot of physical comedy, consisting of prat-falls and assorted other bits of slapstick, was injected into the proceedings.
The remarkable thing is that a little, snot-nosed, Red-headed kid of then 5 years old (Me) can still recall the announcement and preview that was shown at the conclusion of that week's I LOVE LUCY episode. I recall that it would have to have been either a Monday or a Thursday evening, because theses were the old Shopping Nights in Chicago in those pre-Shopping Mall days. The stores in the shopping areas stayed open until 9:30 or 10:00 P.M., with even the Parking Meters ran until 9! Well, me Pop was home, but busy watching the 3 youngest Ryan kids, Rose Mary (2 ¾ ) , Jim (1 ½ ) and the nearly month old, little Bobby. Mother Ryan and older sister, Joanne (9) had gone out for the weeks major shopping with our Uncle Wal & Aunt Fran, who had the "luxury" of owning a car then.
When they returned with the weekly supply of vittles and various odds & ends, I proudly announced of the coming, new show of MY LITTLE MARGIE (I even got the title right!), both Ma and Joanne thought me to be making that up. And being that Dad was busy watching, bathing and getting the younguns ready for beddy-bye, he was of no help! The old man was just too damn busy!
Now Doctor, tell me please, just what was the cause of my being like this today? Was it my being a Redhead, being born a Scorpio, the Holy Cross Nuns at St. Theodore School, that so-called Little League "Coach" or was it my Mother and Sister's disbelief in MY LITTLE MARGIE?
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