This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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Gildy was Not the First Spinoff
by Jim Cox, ©2013
(From Radio Recall, August 2013)
I'm simultaneously amused and befuddled
that we have a new book in the annals of
broadcasting with a subtitle that is woefully in
error. Tuning in The Great Gildersleeve: The lO
Episodes and Cast of Radio's First Spinoff Show,
1941-1957 by Clair Schulz --no matter how
worthy its contents -- is a misnomer.
Veterans of radio research are aware that
drama mama Ima Phillips' long playing epic The
Right to Happiness, still around on "the day the
daytime dramas died" 11/25/60, was spun from a
still more durable narrative, The Guiding Light.
Light went on the air 1/25/37 with some of its
characters shifted to launch Happiness on
10/16/39. Gildersleeve, meanwhile, evolved from
Fibber McGee & Molly that debuted 4/16/35, with
Gildy transferring to a new vehicle 8/31/41 .
Almost two years had passed since the premier of Happiness.
To be technically correct, Gildersleeve was
actually at least the third national radio series to
originate as a spinoff. Out of Big Sister arriving
9/14/36. Bright Horizon was spun off on 8/25/41 ,
beating Gildersleeve to the ether by six days. Joe
Friday might affirm that these are "just the facts."
Does it matter? It's probably not disturbing
to anybody except the radio purists who want
things to be "right" to maintain their "happiness."
I alerted publisher McFarland to the inconsistency
a few months ago on learning the title of the
forthcoming tome, since released (and reviewed
in Radio Recall's June 2013 issue). By then
apparently it was too late to halt what was in the
It's probably not a good idea for publishers to
include statements in titles that they have no
authentic basis to prove. This experience may
have cautioned McFarland's editors to a pitfall
that could be potentially unsettling and