Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, June 22, 2017


The Life of Riley ran from 1944 to 1951, first on the Blue Network, then on NBC.  The comedy starred William Bendix as the gruff but lovable Chester A. Riley and Paula Winslowe as his wife Peg.  Bendix took the popular character to the movie screens in RKO's 1949 release of The Life of Riley -- which also prevented him at first from starring the television version of the series which began the same year; that role went to Jackie Gleason, while Rosemary DeCamp took over the part of Peg.  That first television season lasted for only 26 episodes due to a disagreement between producer Irving Brecjher and the show's sponsor, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.  Nonetheless, that first series garnered television's first Emmy.

Bendix was back as Riley for the show's second series, which ran for six seasons, from 1953 to 1958, after which it went into syndication.  Marjorie Reynolds replaced DeCamp as Peg.

The episode linked below, "Riley Takes Phone Booth Nickels" aired on January 21, 1945.  For the young whippersnappers out there, there was once such a thing as a phone booth -- and, yes, they used to cost a nickel.