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This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.

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Gildy was Not the First Spinoff
by Jim Cox, ©2013
(From Radio Recall, August 2013)

I'm simultaneously amused and befuddled that we have a new book in the annals of broadcasting with a subtitle that is woefully in error. Tuning in The Great Gildersleeve: The lO Episodes and Cast of Radio's First Spinoff Show, 1941-1957 by Clair Schulz --no matter how worthy its contents -- is a misnomer.

Veterans of radio research are aware that drama mama Ima Phillips' long playing epic The Right to Happiness, still around on "the day the daytime dramas died" 11/25/60, was spun from a still more durable narrative, The Guiding Light. Light went on the air 1/25/37 with some of its characters shifted to launch Happiness on 10/16/39. Gildersleeve, meanwhile, evolved from Fibber McGee & Molly that debuted 4/16/35, with Gildy transferring to a new vehicle 8/31/41 . Almost two years had passed since the premier of Happiness.

To be technically correct, Gildersleeve was actually at least the third national radio series to originate as a spinoff. Out of Big Sister arriving 9/14/36. Bright Horizon was spun off on 8/25/41 , beating Gildersleeve to the ether by six days. Joe Friday might affirm that these are "just the facts."

Does it matter? It's probably not disturbing to anybody except the radio purists who want things to be "right" to maintain their "happiness." I alerted publisher McFarland to the inconsistency a few months ago on learning the title of the forthcoming tome, since released (and reviewed in Radio Recall's June 2013 issue). By then apparently it was too late to halt what was in the McFarland works.

It's probably not a good idea for publishers to include statements in titles that they have no authentic basis to prove. This experience may have cautioned McFarland's editors to a pitfall that could be potentially unsettling and concurrently avoidable.