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14549irma

Poster: Mr. Television  (see this users gallery)

My Friend Irma ran on CBS from January 1952 until June 1954.


Marie Wison was TV's and radio's and Hollywood's-favorite dumb blonde. She played many similar characters, but her most famous was the title role in My Friend Irma, which she created on radio in 1947. Irma Peterson was possibly the kookiest secretary in the entire world. She was friendly, enthusiastic,sexy-and very wacky. She just had no sense of logic. Her rommate was levelheaded Jane Stacy ( Cathy Lewis), whose affection for Irma usually overcame the frustrations she met coping with Irma's predictaments. Irma and Jane shared an apartment in Mrs. O'Reilly's ( Gloria Gordon) run-down Manhattan boarding house, where much of the action took place in this live series. Jane's boyfriend was Richard Rhinelander the 3rd ( Brooks West), her millionaire boss, while Irma's was an impoverished con-artist named Al ( Sid Tomack).


When the tv verson was added to radio's My Friend Irma, the 3 female principals-Marie Wilson, Cathy Lewis, and Gloria Gordon-made the transition, with Miss Lewis talking to the audience in the manner of a narrator to set up the scenes as well as participating in them, as she had done on radio. However, the 1953-1954 season brought a number of cast changes.In the storyline Jane had moved to Panama and Irma had a new roommate in newspaper reporter Kay Foster ( Mary Shipp), her 7 year old nephew Bobby (Richard Eyer), had come to live with her, and she had a new boyfriend named Joe Vance ( Hal March). Her original nutty neighbor Professor Kropotkin ( Sig Arno), the violinist at the Paradise Burlesque was also gone, replaced by an eccentric actor, Mr Corday ( John Carridine). The only original regulars left in the cast were Irma, her landlady Mrs. O'rieilly and Mr. Clyde ( Don McBride), the blustery, cranky attorney for whom she worked.


My Friend Irma was the first show to be broadcast from CBS Television City Facility In Hollywood.


Here's an article from Time Magazine reviewing My Friend Irma's premiere on radio in 1947.


Dizzy Blonde
Monday, Oct. 20, 1947 Article


U.S. radio comedy leans heavily on dumb-belles. Last week, in the artfully stumbling footsteps of Gracie Allen, Jane Ace and other attractive dunderheads, a blonde newcomer was malapropping her way to the top. My Friend Irma (CBS, Mon. 10 p.m., E.S.T.), a situation comedy about a dumb stenographer and her smart roommate, was doing all right.


Irma was on the air for 20 weeks before a sponsor finally took it over. The wait was worth it: the sponsor, Lever Bros, (soap) is one of the biggest spenders in radio, and the time assigned to Irma, between Lever Bros.' big-time Lux Radio Theater and the only slightly less popular Screen Guild Players, is the second best in radio (the best: the expensive Sunday night half-hour between Jack Benny and Charlie McCarthy on NBC, now occupied by Alice Faye and Phil Harris).


Easy to Hate. Father and boss of Irma is 32-year-old Sy Howard, a breezy, gangly "threeheaded genius"* with a fondness for gaudy sport togs. In Irma's infancy, Sy handled everything, from the first line of script to the last directorial cue. Nowadays, he leaves much of the writing to scripters. But he still rules the show with a firm hand. "I'm an egomaniac," he says. "The cast hates me, but better they should hate me and give a good show than love me and we're off the air." For conventional radio comedy he has only a sneer: "Anybody with the price of a joke-book can write a gag, but only the best can write character. Character is gonna get people addicted to this show, and character is gonna keep Sy in convertibles."


Hard to Believe. Irma's characterizations are cut to the measure of the cast. Every one of the actors looks and acts his part in & out of the script. Most astonishing of all is Irma herself, Cinemactress Marie Wilson, who has been playing the role of a dumb blonde for so long that she now lives the part. Marie's fluffs at rehearsals and on the air are daffier than anything a scripter might imagine. "She is so much like Irma," says Sy, "that I have to rewrite the things she says to make them believable."


When Sy first asked Marie to be on his show, she squealed, "I'm scared. It's too hard for me to read." And it is: her lines in the script are all typed in capital letters. There are other difficulties, too. Once, when the program was on the air, Sy waved a frantic cue at her from the director's box, and Marie dazedly waved back. Another time, when a special speech by Senator Taft forced cancellation of an Irma broadcast, Sy broke the bad news: "Senator Taft's coming on in place of us." Marie stamped her foot and pouted: "You promised me, no guest stars."


*Showtalk for a man who writes, directs and produces.


To watch an episode of the TV Show go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcAGVGA6WTs&t=40s


To go to Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20100103194330/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/irma.html


For an episode guide go to http://ctva.biz/US/Comedy/MyFriendIrma.htm


To listen to radio episodes of My Friend Irma go to https://archive.org/details/OtrMyFriendIrma
Date: Thu January 8, 2004 � Filesize: 71.5kb � Dimensions: 531 x 626 �
Keywords: My Friend Irma

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