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Bobby Ellis, Jackie Grimes, Barbara Robbins, House Jameson & June Dayton
The Aldrich Family aired from October 1949 until May 1953 on NBC.
A favorite on radio since 1939, The Aldrich Family was NBC's first successful television sitcom. It concerned the adventures of teenager Henry Aldrich, his " typical American family," his high school buddies ( including best friend Homer Brown), and his puppy loves. The location was the Aldrich household on Elm Street, Centerville. Their was considerable turnover in casting of the principal roles with only House Jameson remaining throughout the television run as Henry's long suffering father, Sam Aldrich ( Jameson had also played the role on radio).
Ezra Stone had originated the role on radio and had become a national celebrity ( he influenced later creations like the Archie Comic Strips). Stone portrayed the character on radio until he left for service in the army in 1942. The role then fell to Norman Tokar (1942-1943), Dickie Jones (1943-1944) and Raymond Ives (from mid-1945 until November 1945). Ezra Stone then resumed his role and would play him until 1952. When it came time to adapt the show to tv though the producers felt they needed a new star. Stone was far to old to play a teenager in the visual medium and he was getting fat and was losing his hair.
Five actors played Henry Aldrich on tv: Bob Casey ( 1949-1950); Richard Tyler ( 1950-1951); Henry Girard ( 1951-1952); Kenneth Nelson ( 1952); and Bobby Ellis( 1952-1953 Ellis also replaced Stone on the radio version of The Aldrich family during that season ). Playing Henry's mother Alice were Lois Wilson ( 1949-1950); Nancy Carroll(1950-1951); Lois Wilson again (1951); and Barbara Robbins (1951-1953). Appearing as Henry's sister Mary were Charita Bauer ( 1949-1950); Mary Malone (1950-1952) and June Dayton ( 1952-1953). Playing best friend Homer Brown were Jackie Kelk ( 1949-1951); Robert Barry ( 1951-1952); and Jackie Grimes (1952-1953).
Appearing semi-regularly were Leona Powers as Mrs. Brown; Howard Smith as Mr. Brown; Marcia Henderson as Kathleen; Ethel Wilson as Aunt Harriet; Ann Sorg as Anna Mitchell; Lionel Wilson as George Bigelow; Richard Midgley (1949) and Joseph Foley ( 1950-1953) as Mr. Bradley; and Loretta Leversee ( 1952-1953) as Eleanor. Paul Newman, in one of his earliest tv roles, also appeared occasionally during the 1952-1953 season.
Despite all these cast changes their was still supposed to be another major one added but the actress was dropped at the last minute in one of the television industry's most celebrated cases of political blacklisting. Jean Muir, a movie and radio actress for nearly 20 years was hired during the summer of 1950 to portray Henry's mother Alice Aldrich in the coming season. Immediately, protests began to come in from right-wing groups accusing Miss Muir of left-wing sympathies-it seems her name was listed in Red Channels , a vicious pamphlet that cited the alleged left-wing activities of dozens of performers. The sponsor General Foods and its advertising agency, Young and Rubicam , canceled the opening episode of the season as a result, and Miss Muir was summarily fired-with no opportunity to defend herself. Later before a congressional committee, she stated that she was not and had never been a communist. But the truth didn't really matter . As in the case of Philip Loeb of The Goldbergs, the accusations alone had been enough virtually to destroy her career.
The Aldrich Family was created by Cliford Goldsmith, based on his play What A Life. The oppening lines each week became something of a national catchphrase with Mrs. Aldrich's call, " Henry! Henry Aldrich," and Henry's pained reply, " Coming Mother!"
An Article from Time Magazine
New Henry Aldrich
Monday, Sep. 14, 1942 Article
When America's sensationally popular radio serial, The Aldrich Family, went back on the air last month, Aldrich actors fidgeted nervously while General Foods kept its fingers achingly crossed. Calamity had overtaken Henry Aldrich again. This time the Army had clamped down on Sergeant Ezra Stone's once-a-week performance as The Aldrich Family's Penrodish son. So Henry was being played by another actor: Norman Tokar.
Canny, crack-voiced Ezra Stone, 24, the script's top drawing card, started as Henry Aldrich in the stage play, What a Life, from which the radio serial was concocted. The script was a summer fillin, but Ezra's adolescent croaks and bleats so delighted radio listeners that The Aldrich Family emerged in the fall of 1939 as a full-fledged weekly show, soon had an audience of millions.
The new Henry, short, stocky, pink-eared Norman Tokar, 19, has long played a bit part in the script, long understudied Ezra, sounds enough like him to be his twin. He has played small stage roles in Delicate Story, Lamented Life of Riley, Days of Our Youth, is currently featured in the subway circuit Sailor Beware. He also writes and sells gangster scripts bristling with argot. Knowing the script depends on Henry, Norman does his best to be a businesslike copy of Ezra. House Jameson, who plays Father Aldrich, coaches the new Henry out from behind every eight ball. It is worth it. For in Norman The Aldrich Family has a safely deferred Henry (he supports elderly and semi-invalid parents).
Another Article from Time Magazine
What a Family
Monday, Apr. 12, 1943 Article
U.S. radio's favorite juvenile has almost no chance of growing up. Crack-voiced Henry Aldrich has been about 16 years old now for the last four years. His protracted adolescence earns his creator (Playwright Clifford Goldsmith) radio's fattest writing fee ($3,000 for one show a week). Goldsmith is hardly likely to let the youngster get any older before his contract expires in 1948.
Henry is the agonizingly adolescent star of The Aldrich Family (NBC, Thurs.
8:30-9 p.m., E.W.T.), whose earthbound tribulations manage to keep some 20,000,000 U.S. listeners in a weekly tizzy.
The serial's formula is surefire. It is skill fully designed to give listeners the impression that they are eavesdropping on a typical small-town American family.
But the Aldriches are more typical than real.
No real American family could long stand the strain of Henry's curbless propensity for getting into adolescent jams.
The business of getting Henry and his girl to and from a high-school dance is like moving an armored division into battle. If Henry plays an April Fool prank, it is virtually certain to assume vast, unanticipated proportions.
The Groaning Past. Credit for the success of The Aldrich Family, which has been one of radio's top ten shows (present Crossley rating: 33.4) since December 1940, belong almost entirely to Play wright Goldsmith, a gentle, home-loving family man with thinning slicked hair, blue eyes and a puckish smile. He has the capacity for making his characters, especially Henry (Norman Tokar) and his pal Homer Brown (Jackie Kelk), seem warmly human, pleasantly credible.
Goldsmith found out about youth the hard way. Orphaned son of a pair of East Aurora, N.Y. schoolteachers, he tried vaudeville, playwrighting, stage and cinemacting without success. To earn a living while pursuing these arts he trimmed cigarstore windows, wrote insurance-company maxims (sample: "Sleep with your windows open and your mouth shut") and lectured high-school students on the benefits of drinking milk. Audiences used to groan when his subject was announced.
One day about five years ago a Broadway producer, tired of rejecting Goldsmith's plays, told him for goodness' sake to write a play about something he knew about. He canvassed himself and wrote What A Life (TIME, April 25, 1938), a play about an adolescent named Henry Aldrich. It went over, became a movie, and is still playing the little theaters.
Rudy Vallee asked for a radio skit, and Goldsmith obliged. Says he: "It was horrible, but they asked for more." The Bleeding Present. Goldsmith turns it out in an old milkhouse on his farm in Chester County, Pa. Enraptured Aldrich fans send him their childhood anecdotes, and he has a first-rate supply of source material in his three sons, aged 16, 14 and 6.
Whenever he incorporates one of their misadventures in a script he is likely to find an itemized bill by his bedside for "plagerism." It is strictly understood at the Goldsmiths' that The Aldrich Family is never to be mentioned at meals.
An Article from the St. Petersburg Times
Aldrich Family Drops Actress After Protest
August 28, 1950
New York-(UPI)-Actress Jean Muir has been dropped from the cast of the television show "The Aldrich Family" because anti-Communist groups oppose her appearance.
The sponsor of the show General Foods Corp.said yesterday it was in no way passing judgment on the protests.
But it asked that Miss Muir be replaced because of a policy against controversial advertising that might lead to unfavorable criticism of its products.
Miss Muir herself called the whole thing an undeserved attack.
"It is ironic in view of my strong opposition to Communism," she said.
She was to play the role of Mother Aldrich in the weekly series that was to have had its fall premier Sunday night over NBC. The show did not go on.
Rabbi Benjamin Schultz said protests against her appearance came from the Joint Committee against Communism in New York, a recently organized group of which he is co-ordinator. He did not outline the purpose or background of the organization.
Rabbi Schultz said Miss Muir's name appeared last year on the letterhead of the Congress of American Women-cited as subversive and Communist by the Attorney General's office.
Miss Muir said she belonged to the Congress some years ago but quit it because she did not like its policies and activities.
"I have never been associated with the Communist Party and I regard communism as one of the most vicious influences in the world today."
Rabbi Schultz said his committee consisted of state commanders of six veterans organizations and officials of various civic groups. He did not list them. Miss Muir formerly was a movie actress.
Here's an Article from Time Magazine
The Heat's On
Monday, Sep. 04, 1950 Article
From coast to coast, indignant citizens took after Communists, their party-line friends, and some they just suspected of being party-liners. Distinctions were not always finely drawn, and so the actions they took ranged from sound to silly to unjust. Items:
NBC postponed the fall premiere of the TV version of The Aldrich Family, because it had received a lot of protests against one member of the cast, Actress Jean Muir. She was identified as a leftie in a directory published by Counterattack. Rejoined Actress Muir: "It's strange . . . especially since I consider Communism one of the most vicious things in the country today." The sponsor, General Foods, said it was making no judgment on the charges, but fired her as "a controversial personality."
Members of Joe Ryan's A.F.L. longshoremen, who a week earlier had balked at unloading inbound cargoes of Russian furs and crab meat, refused to touch 2,000 cases of Polish hams aboard two American freighters at New York docks.
The Peace Information Center, a Manhattan outfit which has been a wholesale distributor of the Red-sponsored Stockholm "Peace" Petition, was directed by the Department of Justice to register as agent of a foreign power.
New Hampshire's Wentworth by-the-Sea Hotel canceled a scheduled Sunday evening talk by Owen Lattimore after the management polled the guests, found that more than half who voted did not want to hear him.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed an emergency ordinance requiring all Communists or Communist sympathizers (which they had trouble defining) to register at the sheriff's office after Sept. 1 or face a $500 fine and six months in jail for each day's failure to register.
Here is Ezra Stone's obituary from The New York Times.
Ezra Stone, 76, Henry Aldrich On the Radio
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Published: Saturday, March 5, 1994
Ezra Stone, who played the comically trouble-prone teen-ager Henry Aldrich on radio as a young man and then became a successful theater and television director, died on Thursday in an automobile accident near Perth Amboy, N.J. He was 76 and lived at Stone Meadows Farm, near Newtown, Pa.
For 15 years, first on Broadway and then on radio, Mr. Stone was known to millions as the youth who answered, in a high-pitched, put-upon voice, "Coming, Mother," when summoned by the cry "Hen-REE! Henry Aldrich." He originated the role in 1938 in the Broadway show "What a Life," which ran for more than 600 performances and was later translated into an enormously popular weekly radio program, "The Aldrich Family."
Mr. Stone was born in New Bedford, Mass., and grew up in Philadelphia, where he broke into show business at the age of 7 doing radio recitations and acting in local productions. Directed Army Shows
After receiving a diploma from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1935, he appeared in a farce called "Three Men on a Horse," produced by George Abbott, who then cast him in the 1936 hit comedy "Brother Rat." It was while he was an assistant casting director in Mr. Abbott's office, working under Garson Kanin, that he was given the lead role in the Clifford Goldsmith play "What a Life," about a comically troublesome teen-ager. In 1939, after being presented as a sketch on the Rudy Vallee radio show, "The Adrich Family" was programmed as the summer replacement for Jack Benny. After picking up the sponsorship of General Foods, "The Aldrich Family" was off and running as a weekly half-hour program.
During World War II, Mr. Stone served as a producer, director and actor with the Army's Special Services, staging many productions, most notably the Irving Berlin show "This Is the Army." Although an understudy took over for him for a period, he was able to combine military service with regular appearances on the program, which ran until 1953. From 1950 to 1952, he was director of program development at CBS-TV.
After retiring as Henry Aldrich, Mr. Stone worked steadily as a producer and director on Broadway and in television. He directed the Broadway plays "See My Lawyer," "Me and Molly," "At War With the Army" and "January Thaw." His television directing credits include episodes of "Julia," "The Flying Nun," "Lassie," "The Munsters," "Lost in Space," "Love American Style" and "The Debbie Reynolds Show."
In 1979, he became director and president of the David Library of the American Revolution, in Washington Crossing, Pa., which was founded by his father, Solomon Feinstone.
He is survived by a son, Josef, of Newtown; a daughter, Francine Lida Stone, of Wallingford, England; a sister, Miriam Golub, of Washington Crossing, Pa., and four grandchildren.
To listen to episodes of The Aldrich Family Radio Show go to https://archive.org/details/TheAldrichFamily/Af1939-10-10015HenrysEngagementbettyFieldAsBarbaraPearson.mp3
For an episode guide go to http://ctva.biz/US/Comedy/AldrichFamily.htm
For more on The Hollywood Blacklist go to http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/mccarthy/blacklist.html
For some Aldrich Family-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/aldrich-family-the
To watch an episode of The Aldrich Family go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B678aBm1NPs&t=38s and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIPHK5wqrcA
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Keywords: 1953 Cast of THE ALDRICH FAMILY ( Links Updated 5/3/2017)