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Meet Corliss Archer Radio Show
Show Information based on John Dunning's book "On The Air"
Teenage situation comedy (1943-1956).
Meet Corliss Archer was typical teenage fluff. F. Hugh Herbert created the characters in a magazine story, "Private Affair," which was so well received that he wrote a dozen more. Then came a play, Kiss and Tell, the radio show, a Shirley Temple film, and finally television.
The growing pains of his own two daughters gave Herbert all the inspiration he needed to write of Corliss (going on 15) and her parents, Harry and Janet Archer. Corliss emerged as the CBS answer to NBC's A Date with Judy, which had begun its long run in June 1941. Corliss Archer and Judy Foster were cut from the same log: both were charming and breathless, prone to endless exasperation. But the men in her life set Corliss apart.
First there was Dexter Franklin, the boy next door, as faithful as a sheepdog, wonderfully good-hearted, and, as perfected by Sam Edwards in a lengthy performance, one of the biggest bumblers ever to walk through Radio Row. His personality began with a laugh, a deep nasal bellow that became one of the show's trademarks, and was punctuated with the stock phrase "Holy cow!" All the problems of Dexter's world could be solved with a dollar in his pocket and the presence of Corliss Archer at his side. He botched almost everything he touched.
The other man in Corliss's life was her father. Harry Archer may have practiced law for a living, but what truly inspired him was the eternal war with the female gender. He was cynical, dry, and full of schemes. Usually Dexter was the pawn in his devious plots to prove which sex was the better man. On the face of it, he disdained Dexter mightily, but in a pinch, his good heart shone through. For Corliss and Dexter were sweethearts, and even Dexter's elephantine roar - "COOOOORRRR-LAISS!" - across the hedge at 8 o'clock in the morning couldn't change that.
Herbert's daughters, Diana and Pamela, both wanted to play the lead. Herbert saved himself the agony of choosing, saying he didn't want them becoming professionals at 13. Priscilla Lyon was Corliss in that first short season: "a strange and rather delightful mixture of child, woman, and she-devil," as the character was described on the opening broadcast. "She's very pretty and she knows it, although she doesn't let you know she knows it." The opener played heavily on a wartime theme, Corliss scheming for the honor of christening a destroyer and in the end giving away the thrill in an act of unselfish patriotism. Irvin Lee played Dexter straight. It wasn't until Janet Waldo and Sam Edwards were solidly in place by 1944 that the characters assumed their eternal flow. Waldo played the role with oh-my-golly wonderment, the perpetual ingenue. Forty years later, her youthful demeanor was alive and well. "She's still Corliss Archer," said Sam Edwards in 1984.
Priscilla Lyon as teenager Corliss Archer.
Irvin Lee as Dexter Franklin, her hapless boyfriend.
Bill Christy, David Hughes, and Burt Boyar also as Dexter.
Frank Martin as her father, lawyer Harry Archer.
Gloria Holden initially as her mother, Janet Archer, Irene Tedrow as Janet by Feb.
Norman Field as Uncle George.
Mary Wickes as Louise, the Archer maid.
COMPOSER-CONDUCTOR: Wilbur Hatch.
WRITER-CREATOR: F. Hugh Herbert.
Janet Waldo as Corliss. Lugene Sanders, briefly, as Corliss.
Sam Edwards as Dexter, ca. 1944-56.
Fred Shields and Irene Tedrow as Harry and Janet Archer, 1943-56.
Tommy Bernard and Kenny Godkin as the brat Raymond Ames.
Bebe Young and Barbara Whiting as Corliss's best friend, Mildred.
Dolores Crane as Betty Cameron, Corliss's rival in all things vital.
DIRECTORS: Bert Prager of J. Walter Thompson during the Campbell sponsorship; Helen Mack, 1950s. WRITERS: F. Hugh Herbert, Jerry Adelman, Carroll Carroll (supervised for Thompson in Campbell era).
Jan. 7, 1943-Sept. 30, 1956, CBS, with two noted exceptions.
30m, many shifts in timeslot; some gaps in continuity.
Anchor Hocking Glass, 1944-45;
Campbell Soups, 1946, 1947, 1948, in broken runs;
Electric company co-ops, 1949-52;
Toni, late 1954.
June 15-Sept. 7, 1948, NBC. 30m, Tuesdays at 10. Summer replacement for Bob Hope. Pepsodent.
Oct. 3, 1952-June 26, 1953, ABC. 30m, Fridays at 9:30. Electric co-ops.