Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


An oddball wife.  A staid but loving husband.  Misunderstandings.  Some physical comedy.  Mix well and you have the template for many television comedies of the Fifties.  It worked for George and Gracie.  It worked for Lucy and Ricky.  And it certainly worked for Joan and Bradley.

I Married Joan was a popular NBC comedy that ran from 1952 to 1955 for a total of 98 half hour episodes.  First slated against against Arthur Godfrey and His Friends, the show soared in popularity when the public turned against Godfrey for his on-air firing of Julius LaRosa.  During its third season I Married Joan was opposite a new show called Disneyland.  The resulting drop in ratings led to its cancellation.  It then went into syndication (strangely, it became the property of CBS Paramount.)

The "Joan" of the title was played by Joan Davis (1912-1961), a well-liked veteran comedienne who worked in vaudeville, films, and radio prior to the series.  Joan was married to local judge Bradley Stevens, played by Jim Backus (1913-1989), best known today for his role of Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island and as the voice of the myopic Mr. Magoo.   During the show's second season, Joan was helped in her antics in several episodes by her sister Beverly (played by Davis' real-life daughter Beverly Wills).

Joan Davis continued an active career in television under her untimely death (of a heart attack) at age 48.  (Her daughter Beverly died two years later, age 30, in a house fire that also claimed Beverly's grandmother and her two sons.)

The episode linked below -- the show's pilot -- recounts how Bradley Stevens met his future wife, then a newly minted airline hostess.  The show then segues to Joan's efforts to hide a fur coat from her husband.  Filled with fifties' sensibilities, the pilot remains warm and funny.



  1. Joan Davis's family not notable for luck, indeed. As to CBS ending up with distribution rights, Allied Artists had them back when they were extant and their tv distribution arm, at least, probably were bought up by Paramount or CBS before the merger...or Joan Davis Productions, which DesiLu'd the series, was...

    1. The fire evidently started when Beverly Wills fell asleep while smoking in bed.