Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, February 14, 2024


My Favorite Husband aired as a one-shot fill-in program for Eve Arden's Our Miss Brooks on CBS Radio on July 5, 1948, becasuse Arden's program was delayed goiong on the air.  It was based on two novels about the Cugat family written by Isabel Scott Rorick, the first of which, Mr. and Mrs. cugat, the Record of a Happy Marriage (1940) had been made into the successful film Are Husbands Necessary? in 1942.  The fill-in show had been an audition program starring Licille Ball as Liz Cugat and Lee Bowman as her husband, George.  It was popular enough for CBS to take it on as a series.  Bowman was not able to continue his role as George Cugat and was replaced with Richard Denning.  The series aired on July 23, 1948 through March 31, 1951 for a total of 124 episodes.  After 25 episodes, confusion of the name with bandleader Xavier Cugat lead the show to change Liz and George's last name to Cooper.  Gale Gordon and Bea Benederet played Rudolph and Iris Atterbury, George's boss and his wife.

One great revelation occured during the show's run:  executives discovered that Ball's talent as a comedic actress far outweighted her talent as a dramatic one and that her comedic talent was better displayed before an audience.  This eventually led My Favorite Husband to morph into television's I Love Lucy.  CBS and the program's sponsor, Jell-o, wanted Denning to continue to co-star, but Ball onsisted that her real-life husband Desi Arnez be the co-star.  Ball and Arnez took a show on the road and convinced the network that audiences would respond to the couple.  The network acceeded and television history was born.  In the beginning, I Love Lucy used recucled scripts from My Favorite Husband.

Television was not done with My Favorite Husband, though.  CBS brought the show to television in 1953, with Joan Caulfield and Barry Nelson as the stars.  This version reverted to the earliest radio shows in which George was a well-to-do bank executive, rather than the couple being solidly middle-class.  This version ran for three seasons, although the third season was shortened.

Here's a 75-year-old Valentine's Day treat for you, one day later.  Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. You know, looking at her list of credits (mostly at RKO, which had her on contract for a stretch after she graduated from bit parts), she was in at least as many comedies as anything else, and certainly she was already clearly herself by the 1938 film ROOM SERVICE with the Marx Brothers, Frank Albertson and a teen Ann Miller.