Show: Remembering When

Episode: 868-079 The Life Of Riley.mpg


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Episode Description:

The Life of Riley, with William Bendix in the title role, was a popular American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film, a long-run 1950s television series (originally with Jackie Gleason as Riley for one truncated season, then with Bendix for six seasons), and a 1958 comic book.

The show began as a proposed Groucho Marx radio series, The Flotsam Family, but the sponsor balked at what would have been essentially a straight head-of-household role for the comedian. (Groucho went on to host Blue Ribbon Town from 1943 to 1944 and then You Bet Your Life from 1947 to 1961.) Then producer Irving Brecher saw Bendix as taxicab company owner Tim McGuerin in Hal Roach's The McGuerins from Brooklyn (1942). The Flotsam Family was reworked with Bendix cast as blundering Chester A. Riley, a wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft plant in California. His frequent exclamation of indignation—"What a revoltin' development this is!"—became one of the most famous catchphrases of the 1940s. The radio series also benefited from the immense popularity of a supporting character, Digby "Digger" O'Dell (John Brown), "the friendly undertaker".

The second TV series ran for six seasons, from January 2, 1953 – May 23, 1958. It was produced by Tom McKnight for NBC, and featured William Bendix. He was supported by Marjorie Reynolds, replacing both Paula Winslowe and Rosemary DeCamp, as wife Peg, Tom D'Andrea as schemer buddy Gillis, Gloria Blondell as Gillis' wife, Honeybee, Lugene Sanders as daughter Babs, and Wesley Morgan as son Junior. This Life of Riley series with Bendix, was a ratings hit, ranking at #16 in its first season, with four of its six seasons in the top 30, and ran for a total of 217 episodes. It then went into syndicated reruns.

In all of the show's incarnations, the comedic plotlines centered around Riley himself, a gullible and occasionally clumsy (but big-hearted) lug, and the doings and undoings of his family. Riley's penchant for turning mere trouble into near-disaster through his well-intentioned bumbling was often aided or instigated by his arch best friend/next-door neighbor, Gillis.

In several ways, Riley was a prototype for later blue-collar sitcom protagonists such as blustery, get-rich-quick schemer Ralph Kramden and his animated stone-age counterpart Fred Flintstone; blustery bigot Archie Bunker; benign, bighearted Dan Conner; and King of Queens Doug Heffernan. Perhaps the greatest tribute to The Life of Riley was paid by Married... with Children: Ed O'Neill's language and manner of speaking as Al Bundy are remarkably similar to Bendix's, and Al's wife, like Riley's, is named Peg. Bendix's Riley, especially, was perhaps too guileless to be the true prototype for this group, but for making blue-collar characters as operable on television as on radio or in film, Chester Riley earned his place in broadcasting history.

Sponsors of the TV show included Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer (1949–50), Gulf Oil (1953–58) and Lever Brothers (1957–58).

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SD (Standard Definition) File

File Name of SD Episode: 868-079 The Life Of Riley.mpg

Total SD Episode Video Runtime (hh:mm:ss): 00:27:37

File Size of SD Episode Video: 1,290,888,832 Bytes

Resolution of SD Episode Video: 720x480

Date SD Episode Video Uploaded: Monday, January 14, 2013 - 23:09


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