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I Married Joan aired from October 1952 until April 1955 on NBC.

In the I Love Lucy tradition, I Married Joan centered around the life of another zany wife. She was full of dreams and schemes. Her straight man was her husband, a judge.

Bradley Stevens ( Jim Backus) served as a judge in domestic court. Each episode opened with Judge Stevens on the bench. In the course of trying to resolve the problems of those who came before him, he would explain to them how he had delt with a similar type of problem with his own beloved but slightly wacky wife, Joan ( Joan Davis). As he started to tell his story, the courtroom scene would fade into his home and the situation would be enacted. During the first season, Joan's next door neighbor and partner in mischief was Minerva Parker( Hope Emerson). The following 2 seasons Joan Davis's daughter Beverly Wills, was the only other regular in the cast playing the part of Joan Stevens's much younger college-student sister, Beverly. Also featured as the Stevens's friends and neighbors over the years were Hal Smith and Geraldine Carr as Charlie and Mable; Dan Tobin and Sheila Bromley as Kerwin and Janet; Wally Brown and Sally Kelly as Wally and Sally; and Sandra Gould as Mildred Webster.

Joan Davis ( the marvelous comedienne who played Joan Stevens) was a clown, a buffoon. In the movies she was always dressed in strange clothes, rushing around, falling, mugging. From one of her early films, a manic Mack Sennett hillbilly piece called Way Up That, to her spots on the popular Rudy Vallee radio program ( which she inherited when Vallee entered the Coast Guard in 1943), Joan Davis was one of America's favorites. For 10 years she made 6 movies a year. By 1937 she was voted the most popular screen comedienne. In 1950 Davis moved from NBC to CBS radio to do her show Leave It To Joan. Davis was the woman, Fanny Brice once said, whom she wanted to play her in the movies.

I Married Joan premiered on Wednesday, October 15, 1952. Time hated it: " It might have been better left on the shelf." But Variety praised her " comic zest and vitality." Joan Stevens, true to the then current sitcom genre, was as scatterbrained as the rest, but with her own set of outrageous gestures, hard falls, raucous vocal tricks, and muscle-straining grimaces. Said Davis: " I'm the gal who has fallen twenty thousand times." She was proud of it.

So was NBC. The show did well and, one year later, was the 2nd most popular NBC comedy show. Davis had had many offers to appear on television but she always said no. " I knew exactly what I wanted to do in television, and this series just about spells it," she had said. " Television is a new medium , and should be treated as such by entertainers. Every show wanted me to do my old man-chassing act complete with screems, pratfalls, and 'Love That Boy' lines."

" But after watching tv, I began to see that it was the more relaxed characters who were successful. You can't forget for one minute that this show is going into people's living rooms, where the atmosphere is relaxed and people don't want to feel ill at ease by your trying to high-pressure them. And they don't want to be shocked out of their living room chairs."

It wasn't all terrific. " Two a week in vaudeville was beautiful. Radio? What a breeze. It was stealing money. But this-I've never worked so hard in my life. I'm glad I took care of myself as a little girl."

Jim Backus was cast as her husband Judge Bradley Stevens . Davis had worked with him on radio. His voice was already familiar as Mr. Magoo of the popular cartoons.

The show was a departure for Davis. Every situation was not milked to the bitter end , although they all were outlandish. Once Joan went into a dress shop, tried on dresses that were to large for her, and then tried to sell them to a stranger. She couldn't cope with a checking account , so her husband cut off all her charge accounts. In many ways her relationship to " the judge" was more father-daughter than husband-wife. And it was the perfect career culmination for Joan Davis ( real name Josephine Davis), who at age 6, did a serious song recital to her native St. Paul-and the audience broke out into laughter.

Reminisced Davis: " I read Variety before the first grade primrer. Later on I approachedd algebra as a shortcut method of determining a year's income at, say $50 a week." She said, later in life, " I have no desire to do Shakspeare. I'm well adjusted."

She gave this advice to her daughter Beverly Wills( who played Joan's sister on the sitcom; they talked exactly alike):" Their are thousand of young beautiful girls who each year flock to Hollywood and New York, all of them thinking themselves potential Bette Davises. The woods are full of dramatic actresses-but try and fine a good comedienne. They're as scarce as men."

Davis, however had her share of men. One-a real estate salesman to whom she was engaged for 2 years-was 11 years younger. One night she had her realtor Romeo arrested for assault and battery ( later she decided not to prosecute) and broke off the relationship. It was in all the papers. " A woman's place is in the home, even an actress," Davis had said after her devorce. " But when their isn't much of a home left, a woman who has been as active all her life as I have has to have another outlet." She had plenty of outlets. She was President of Joan Davis Productions and worked all the time. " I don't go to sleep," she said. " I fall down unconscious." As a Producer she was always called JD. Off-Screen she was shy and quiet, a woman who liked to go fishing, play golf, go to boxing matches, or just stay home and read through her file of gags-which filled more than 12 large volumns.

The show took 3 cameras to film, and Joan unlike other tv stars-decided to memorize her lines. " I don't use a telePrompTer. I never sit still long enough to look at it."

Toward the end of the show's run, in 1955, the ratings had slipped. The show had never done well in New York, an important market that was holding back the ratings. " If I had time," Davis said, " I'd go from door to door."

She didn't have much time. For anything. After 98 episodes, she retired from the show, saying she was " worn out." " If show business has been good to me, it has robbed me of many things." The show went into reruns from May 1956 through March 1957 as a replacement for Howdy Doody. It did phenominally well, tying with Queen For A Day as the highest-rated daytime show.

Joan Davis tried selling several tv sitcom pilots-including one about the first woman astronaut to train amd condition for a flight to the moon-but they never took off.

Discouraged she went into virtual retirement in 1959 and in 1961 she died of a heart attack. More tragedy would follow two years later when her Daughter Beverly Wills, her grandchildren and her mother were all killed in a house fire.

To read some articles about I Married Joan go to and

To watch some clips from I Married Joan go to

To read Joan Davis' Obituary go to and to read about the fire that killed Joan davis' family go to

For a page dedicated to I Married Joan go to!09!7C!98E458043E08/davidjames2/IMARRIEDJOAN/index.html

To go to Tim's TV Showcase go to

For an episode guide go to

Fo an article about 50's sitcoms tv go to

For more on Joan Davis go to

For a page dedicated to Joan davis go to

For some I Married Joan-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to

For another great review of I Married Joan go to
Date: Fri March 26, 2004 � Filesize: 9.1kb � Dimensions: 220 x 120 �
Keywords: I Married Joan


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