This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
Click here to return to the index of selected articles.
FIBBER TIMES THREE
by David Siegel and Jack French © 2010
(From Radio Recall, April 2010)
In recent months, two new books have been published about Fibber McGee and Molly. It’s been a long time between their 2009 arrival and the first book on that great comedy series which came out in 1987. “Heavenly Days” written by Tom Price, with photographs from the collection of Charles Stump, was published over 30 years ago and is long out of print.
Price was able to interview Jim Jordan extensively, as well as other people associated with that series, most of whom are, sadly, no longer alive. In his book, Price provided the first legitimate log of Fibber Mc Gee and Molly and included background on the Jordan's’ earlier series including Smack Out.
Now, Bear Manor Media has released two new “Fibber” books and each has obvious strengths and areas of emphasis to recommend them to the OTR community.
How Fibber McGee and Molly Won World War II
by Mickey Smith
Bear Manor Media $ 21.95 plus S & H
Honesty remains the best, and also the safest approach to follow, especially when attempting to review a book for which one of your reviewers contributed its foreword. However, both of us are convinced this is a very fine book.
Smith leads us from the very start of WW II , describing how Don Quinn and Phil Leslie turned Fibber and Molly into the radio family best known by most listeners then and fans today. They proved that even a loud mouth braggart like Fibbber , with Molly's blessing, could set an example for listeners to support the war effort and still offer enough laughs to tune in gain the next week (and continue purchasing Johnson’s products.)
The author does not limit his volume to just the script excerpts proving his premise. Reflective of his academic prowess of the head of the School of Pharmacy at Mississippi University and a respected scholar and author, Smith provides both the historic influence on the program series as well as the production details.
Fibber McGee & Molly: On the Air 1935-1959
by Clair Schulz
Bear Manor Media $ 22.45 plus S & H
In his book, Schulz has much of the same background material on the Jordan's and their fortuitous matchup with writer Don Quinn. Schulz discusses in great detail the different formats of Fibber McGee and Molly from their earliest days on radio to the concluding years on Monitor. Like Smith’s book, this one has plenty of photographs, some rarely seen before.
But the strongest and most detailed section of his book is an encyclopedic log of every single episode. Each one of these entries contains the broadcast date, the show title, the complete cast, summary of the plot, identity of songs and singers, use of running gags, guest appearances (if any) and general comments about the episode.
It is difficult to imagine a more thorough summary of this series ever being produced. In fact, the appendices are so inclusive, you don’t even notice that this book, unlike Smith’s, has no index. Also because of the volume of material in Schulz’s book, the typeset is slightly smaller than it is in Smith’s book.
Suffice it to say, these two books are the result of painstaking research and excellent writing. Both are highly recommended as additions to your old-time radio library shelf.