Poster: Mr. Television
(see this users gallery)
My Favorite Husband ran from September 1953 until December 1955 on CBS.
George Cooper ( Barry Nelson) was a successful bank executive with a fancy suburban home and a beautiful but scatter-brained wife, Liz( Joan Caulfield). Living next door were the Cobbs, Gillmore ( Bob Sweeney), the peanut magnate, and Myra( Alix Talton), the social snob. The Coopers, though wealthy, were rather unpretentious, and the Cobbs were always trying to get them to improve their social image.
Several changes took place at the start of the 3rd season. Vanessa Brown replaced Joan Caulfield in the role of Liz, the next-door neighbors became the Shepards, Oliver ( Dan Tobin) and Myra ( Alix Talton still playing the wife but with a new name), and there was less emphasis on social status. Despite the changes, the program folded 3 months later.
My Favorite Husband was based on the 1948 radio series of the same name, which starred Lucille Ball as the nutty housewife Liz ( the prototype for her long-running Lucy characterization on tv).
An Article from Time Magazine on movie stars tackling the new medium of Television.
Recruits from Hollywood
Monday, Oct. 05, 1953
It looked as if TV had made a major raid on Hollywood talent. Joan Crawford was on television playing the suffering wife of an unfaithful husband; Marilyn Monroe was cavorting on Jack Benny's show; Ava Gardner, as the mystery guest on a quiz program, was answering embarrassing questions ("Are you married and are you happy about it?"); Loretta Young, Ray Milland and Joan Caulfield were turning up each week on their own programs; Arlene Dahl, Ray Bolger, Agnes Moorehead and young Brandon De Wilde were beginning big TV roles.
Had Hollywood finally given in to TV? Not quite. A few movie figures, notably Robert Montgomery, had long been familiar faces on television; some, like Lucille Ball, Ann Sothern and Robert Cummings, had propped up sagging careers by taking the television plunge. This season's rash of film stars on TV amounts to a sudden upswing in the trend, but the big-studio, big-star antipathy toward television still exists.
Mostly Soap Operas. Most term contracts at the big cinema studios still forbid TV appearances, except for special walk-ons to plug a new picture (as Marilyn Monroe plugged The Robe on Benny's program), and most top-ranking freelance stars are too wary or too busy for television. Explains Cinema Tough Guy
Humphrey Bogart: "I got a helluva good racket of my own ... I don't have the time and I don't trust the medium yet . . . You watch that stuff some time . . . Instead of being five foot eleven, you're four foot three. I'll wait until they get straightened out." Van Heflin feels that a series of weekly TV shows, for a movie actor, "can very easily mean the complete destruction of his career in motion pictures. The audience gets used to getting something for nothing, and then does not want to turn around and pay for it." Teresa Wright, after giving occasional TV performances, sniffs at television's dramatic works: "They're mostly soap operas. It's just like making a cheap film."
Bible with Guts. But television has enthusiastic converts. Says Joan Crawford, who has plans for a series about a lady columnist ("I'll definitely do the commercials, in a dignified way"): "When [television] is not badly photographed and when it is on film which I can own, I find it extremely attractive, because it pays for itself and then becomes an annuity for my children. How else can you save money these days?" John Wayne, one of Hollywood's top box-office draws, "is very much for TV," has plans to produce his own TV films. Kirk Douglas has made a pilot film for a Biblical series "a sort of Bible-with-guts show."
What does it profit a cinema star to go into television? TV pay has finally reached movie levels, and its multimillion audience is an attraction in a time of waning movie attendance. Best of all, it offers jobs during the dog days of Hollywood employment. The latest TV converts and their new shows:
Meet Mr. McNutley (Thurs. 8 p.m., CBS). Academy Award Winner Ray (The Lost Weekend) Milland as the absent-minded professor at a women's college. The characterizations are trite, and most of the action is warmed-over slapstick. Milland's fine talent for light comedy is pretty well smothered. (Sponsor: General Electric.)
Letter to Loretta (Sun. 10 p.m., NBC). Loretta Young, ostensibly answering her fan mail, acts out the problem of the week and supplies philosophic guidance. The first show had her in the role of a perfume salesgirl botching up her first encounter with her wealthy boy friend's highborn family. Loretta turned to the Book of Proverbs for the solution. (Sponsor : Tide and Lilt.)
My Favorite Husband (Sat. 9:30 p.m., CBS), the best of the new crop, offers Joan Caulfield and Barry Nelson as an up & coming young couple in the upper-middle-income bracket. (Sponsors: Simmons Co. and International Silver Co.)
Here's an article from Time Magazine from May 1954 about My Favorite Husband.
Monday, Mar. 22, 1954 Article
Led by I Love Lucy, the TV family comedy show has been gradually winning U.S. audiences away from other forms of TV comedy. My Favorite Husband (Sat. 9:30 p.m., CBS), a happy-family newcomer, last week boasted a Trendex rating of 25 compared to only 21.5 for its top competitor, the gaudy Your Show of Shows, starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. The fact that Husband was able to equal, and then surpass, the rating of one of the best and oldest of the expensive variety shows may have played an important part in the decision to break up the team of Caesar and Coca next season (TIME, March 8).
Based on Isabel Rorick's 1940 book, Mr. and Mrs. Cugat, Husband had a two-year run as a radio show starring Lucille Ball. In moving the show to television, CBS's West Coast vice president in charge of network programs, Harry Ackerman, searched hard and long for a properly glamorous pair of young marrieds. He finally decided on Hollywood's Joan Caulfield ("She has some kind of half-woman, half-gamin, half-childlike quality that is perfect") and Broadway's Barry Nelson "He's the handsome, rugged American male"). Like most family comedies, Husband is long on character, short on plot, and played for laughs. It does buck a few popular trends: unlike most TV husbands, Nelson has a modicum of intelligence and, unlike most TV wives, Joan is some distance ahead of the usual lovable idiot.
Ackerman believes that "this is the type of show that can go on forever . . . Most people are married, most people have been in love, so it follows that most people will like our program, because here is real, recognizable domesticity." But there is no real drabness in this domestic life. Over everything is the rosy glow of a perpetual honeymoon. Explains Ackerman: "It isn't sex [that keeps the show going], though that's implied. What it is, really, is a certain quality of love and smooch."
Here is Joan Caulfield's Obituary from The New York Times
Joan Caulfield, A Film Actress, Is Dead at 69
By GLENN FOWLER
Published: June 20, 1991
Joan Caulfield, an actress who starred in films of the 1940's and in television situation comedies of the 1950's, died on Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was 69 years old and lived in Beverly Hills, Calif.
She died of cancer, a hospital spokesman said.
Miss Caulfield was propelled to stardom by the films "Monsieur Beaucaire," in which she appeared with Bing Crosby, and "Blue Skies," with Bob Hope, both released in 1946, and by "Dear Ruth," appearing opposite William Holden, in 1947. On television she was a co-star of "My Favorite Husband," on CBS from 1953 to 1955, and "Sally" on NBC in the 1957-58 season.
Miss Caulfield, who was a native of West Orange, N.J., attended Columbia University and was a fashion model and a cover girl before she landed ingenue roles on Broadway in the early 1940's. Her first stage success was in the 1943 production of the comedy "Kiss and Tell," in which she appeared for 14 months. Paramount Pictures promptly offered her a contract and she began her Hollywood career with "Miss Suzie Slagle's," in 1946. Occasional Film Appearances
Her films made the most of her beauty, although she was determined to win a reputation as an actress and not, as she said, "just a decoration."
In 1950, Miss Caulfield married the film producer Frank Ross and subsequently appeared only occasionally in films. She and Mr. Ross were divorced in 1960. She later married Robert Peterson, a dentist, from whom she was also divorced.
She is survived by two sons, Caulfield Kevin Ross of Sherman Oaks, Calif., and John Caulfield Peterson of Sacramento, Calif.; two sisters, Mary Parker of Stuart, Fla., and Elizabeth Victor of Los Angeles, and a grandson.
Correction: June 21, 1991, Friday
An obituary yesterday about Joan Caulfield, the actress, reversed the identities of the male stars in two films. Bing Crosby starred in "Blue Skies," Bob Hope in "Monsieur Beaucaire."
Here's Barry Nelson's Obituary from the LA Times
Barry Nelson, 89: Original James Bond
Apr 16, 2007 02:30 AM
Barry Nelson, a Broadway leading man who launched his career at MGM in the 1940s and earned a niche in show business history as the first actor to play British secret agent James Bond as an American named Jimmy Bond in a live television production of Casino Royale in the 1950s has died. He was 89.
Nelson died April 7 in a hotel in Bucks County, Pa., his wife, Nansi, said Friday. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
As an MGM contract player in the 1940s, Nelson appeared in such films as Shadow of the Thin Man, Dr. Kildare's Victory, A Yank on the Burma Road, The Human Comedy, Bataan and A Guy Named Joe.
He later played opposite Debbie Reynolds in the 1963 movie comedy Mary, Mary, a role he originated on Broadway with co-star Barbara Bel Geddes; and he also appeared in the films Airport, Pete `n' Tillie and The Shining.
But Nelson had some of his greatest successes on Broadway, including appearing in Light Up the Sky and The Moon Is Blue in the 1940s, Cactus Flower opposite Lauren Bacall (in the '60s) and The Act opposite Liza Minnelli (for which he received a Tony Award nomination as best actor in a musical in 1978).
"He was a charming light comedian with a wonderful boyish face and a lovely youthful quality," Miles Kreuger, president of the Institute of the American Musical in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.
On television in the early '50s, Nelson starred as a globe-trotting businessman involved in international intrigue in The Hunter, a half-hour series that ran on CBS from 1952 to 1954.
He also co-starred opposite Joan Caulfield in My Favorite Husband, a situation comedy that ran on CBS from 1953 to 1955.
It was while he was doing that series that he was offered the role of Bond in Casino Royale, the TV adaptation of Ian Fleming's first Bond novel, on the CBS dramatic anthology series Climax!
Nelson had, in fact, just completed the 103rd episode of My Favorite Husband and was in need of a break.
"I was burned out," he recalled in a 2002 interview with the Daily Mirror of London. "My Favorite Husband was filmed live. It was so tiring and difficult. I took a vacation to Jamaica and told my agent I'd had it for a while.''
But soon after arriving in Jamaica, he recalled, "My agent called saying there was this part that CBS really wanted me for ... I had to get the next flight back to America. They were starting rehearsals the next day.''
He said he had doubts about playing the role until he learned who was playing the villain: Peter Lorre.
"That," he said, "was the clincher.''
With Nelson "decked out in a crooked bow tie and cut-rate suit'' and playing Bond as "sexless and glum," as the Times' Susan King later put it, the Casino Royale segment of Climax! aired live on Oct. 21, 1954.
Although it reportedly was favourably received, Nelson later said he had no clue that Fleming's 007 character would ultimately achieve international renown.
"But nobody else did either," he said in a 1992 interview with the Riverside Press-Enterprise. "CBS even had an option on the Bond stories; they didn't pick it up.''
Eight years after Nelson's portrayal of "Jimmy Bond," Sean Connery debuted as the dashing "Bond, James Bond" in the hit film Dr. No.
"I always thought Connery was the ideal Bond. What I did is just a curio," Nelson told the New York Daily News in 1995.
Born in San Francisco on April 16, 1917, Nelson later moved with his family to Oakland, Calif. He was performing in a production of Macbeth during his senior year at the University of California, Berkeley, when an MGM talent scout saw him and offered him a screen test.
While serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II, he made his Broadway debut in the Army Air Forces production of Moss Hart's Winged Victory in 1943, and he appeared in the 1944 film version of the song-filled play. He is survived by Nansi, his second wife.
To watch an episode of My Favorite Husband go to http://www.veoh.com/watch/v16935665DxcMxWGb
To go to Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20100114111104/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/myfavoritehusband.html
For an episode guide go to http://ctva.biz/US/Comedy/MyFavoriteHusband.htm
For the Joan Caulfield Photo Gallery go to http://www.fanpix.net/gallery/joan-caulfield-pictures.htm
For a page dedicated to Joan Caulfield go to https://web.archive.org/web/20060213201355/http://www.kcmetro.cc.mo.us:80/Pennvalley/biology/lewis/crosby/caulfield.htm
For the Joan Caulfield Hollywood star walk go to http://projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk/joan-caulfield/
To listen to the radio version of My Favorite Husband go to https://archive.org/details/MyFavoriteHusband
For some My Favorite Husband -related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/my-favorite-husband
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG5Fcp6DlVo and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FWNvIswQHg
� Date: Tue January 20, 2004 � Filesize: 83.2kb � Dimensions: 478 x 699 �
Keywords: MY FAVORITE HUSBAND