I Married Joan was NBC's answer to I Love Lucy, which had premiered a year earlier on CBS. It starred Joan Davis as the madcap, manic Joan Stevens and Jim Backus as her husband, the mild Judge Bradley Stevens. Davis was known for her physical comedy and the program provided a lot of that each episode. The show ran for three season, from October 15, 1952 to March 23, 1955, for 98 episodes. Although never a ratings star, I Married Joan gained a strong audience in syndication.
The show was scheduled against the first half of the popular Arthur Godfrey and His Friends. It gained its greatest audience in the second season when Godfrey took a ratings dip after he fired Julius LaRosa on air. In its third season, I Married Joan also went up against ABC's top-rated Disneyland; the competition was just too much and the show was cancelled. Also, Joan Davis was beginning to suffer heart problems, which was also a factor in the cancellation. Davis died of a heart attack eight years later at age 53. A year and a half later, Davis' mother, daughter (actress Beverley Wills, who played Davis' sister on the show), and her two grandchildren were killed in a house fire.
In I Married Joan's pilot, Judge Stevens is counseling a couple who want to divorce and he relates how he he first met Joan, who was a new airline hostess -- the setup provided a lot of room for Davis' physical comedy; during the second half of the pilot, Davis tries hide the fact that she bought a Persian lamb coat from the Judge and stashes the coat in a deep freezer. Also featured was Hope Emerson as the neighbor Minerva Parker. Hal March and Shirley Mitchell played the bickering couple. The episode was directed by Philip Rapp and written by Phil sharp and Arthur Stander.
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