Hoping for positive publicity, a tobacco company offers $25 million to any American town that quits smoking for 30 days. Amidst a media frenzy, Eagle Rock, Iowa accepts the challenge while the company's PR man tries to sabotage the effort.
After 17 years, things have got too predictable and stale. They argue, they visit a marriage counselor, Richard (drunk) visits a prostitute. They split up. After meeting other people, they ... See full summary »
Dick Van Dyke,
The Martha Raye Show is an hour-long comedy/variety show which aired live on NBC. It actually began in 1951,under the umbrella title All-Star Revue. Raye began as a monthly replacement for ... See full summary »
This popular television show stayed on the air throughout most of the decade of the 1950's. I liked it better when it was in a 30-minute time slot. When it expanded to an hour, the scripts were stretched and much of the punch left the program. The general format for the 30-minute shows was to have George Gobel do a monologue followed by sketches, the best one centering on George's wife "Old Weird Alice." Alice was George's wife in real life, but on TV an actress played the part. Viewers, myself included, looked forward to this part of the program.
George's monologues were not really that funny on the surface. Many of the jokes were stale or of the corny variety. What really sold George's monologues were the interjections thrown in with good timing such as "Well, I'll be a dirty bird," which became a popular saying throughout the nation while George was on the tube. He would also use offbeat funny interjections during the sketches. So it was George's delivery technique and not his jokes that carried him to stardom. Add to this his winning personality and comical appearance, including a crew cut, and a star is born.
George could also play guitar and warble a few songs which like his monologues tended to be corny but cute. I don't recall that he ever actually did an entire song. This part of his act in some ways foreshadowed the later humor of the Smothers Brothers who would also seldom finish a song without funny asides and comic interludes relating to what was being sung.
What is amazing is how popular and how long George stayed on in prime time. At his peak, he was possibly the favorite TV comic in the nation. Yet his brand of humor usually fades away quickly along the lines of a fad. Television's "Batman," popular in the mid-60's, is an example of how a novelty hit rises and falls within a few months. George was able to sustain himself for over half a decade.
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