Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, May 4, 2017


Cosmo Topper, the staid banker whose life was upended by the happy-go-lucky ghosts of George and Marion Kirby (and the their ghost dog, Neil), made it to radio after the success of of the character in three movies based on the characters created by Thorne Smith.  Fifteen episodes were aired on NBC as the summer 1945 replacement for The Dinah Shore.  (Thirteen episodes had originally been planned but the show was such a success that two more episodes were added and placed in the time slot for final two weeks of  The Burns and Allen Program's summer hiatus, and airing just before Dinah Shore when her show returned.)

And who should play Cosmo Topper?  None other than Roland Young, who starred as the character in all three movies.  (The fact that Young was also a regular on The Dinah Shore Show gave the replacement series a sense of continuity.)

Paul Mann and Frances Chaney played the ghosts of George and Marion Kerby.  Hope Emerson was cast as Malvina Topper, Cosmo's stern and impatient wife.  The smart and witty scripts were written by Stanley Wolf.  Kirby Hawks directed, and Ron Rawson served as the show's announcer.

For some reason lost to time, this great show was not renewed by NBC for the fall season.  Cosmo Topper would not return for eight years, when Leo G. Carroll portrayed him for two season in the CBS television program Topper from 1953 to 1955.

It's interesting to note that General Foods was the sponsor of the program, most notably with Maxwell House Coffee and Post Toasties cereal.  Thorne Smith, who created the characters in two popular novels, was a descendant of Don Jose Maxwell (his mother was Maxwell's granddaughter), for whom Maxwell House Coffee was named.

The link below takes you to three of the radio episodes:  "Topper and the Psychiatrist" (a.k.a "Malvina Hires a Psychiatrist"), July 5, 1945;  "Topper's Mother in Law Visits (a.k.a. "Malvina's Mother Visits") August 30, 1945; and "Topper and the Spiritualist" (a.k.a. "Rajah"), September 6, 1945.  The last is one of the added episodes and is an hour long.


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