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Harold Peary

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Harold Peary


The Great Gildersleeve

Harold Peary Honest Harold Old Time Radio

Full Name
Jose Pereira de Faria

July 25, 1908 (
San Leandro, California

March 30, 1985, Torrance, California, United States

Gloria Holliday (m. 1946–1956), Eleanor Virginia Jourdaine (m. 1929–1946)

TV shows
Blondie, Willy (TV series), The Roman Holidays, Buford and the Galloping Ghost

Gildersleeve's Bad Day, Gildersleeve's Ghost, Gildersleeve on Broadway, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, Seven Days' Leave

Similar People
Gordon Douglas, Allan Dwan, Ben Hardaway, Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin - Jr

Harold peary plan to rename boomer park comicweb old time radio

Harold (Hal) Peary (July 25, 1908 – March 30, 1985) was an American actor, comedian and singer in radio, films, television and animation remembered best as Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, a supporting character on radio's Fibber McGee & Molly that moved to its own radio hit, The Great Gildersleeve, the first known spinoff hit in American broadcasting history.


Harold Peary Harold Peary The Great Gildersleeve and More Classic

Harold peary harold loses his job comicweb old time radio

Early life

Harold Peary httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsdd

Born as José Pereira de Faria in San Leandro, California, to Portuguese parents, Harold Peary (pronounced "Perry") began working in local radio as early as 1923, according to his own memory, and had his own show as a singer, The Spanish Serenader, in San Francisco, but moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1937. While in San Francisco, he also had "several parts" in Wheatenaville, a program broadcast on NBC's Pacific network beginning September 26, 1932.


Harold Peary Peary

In Chicago he became a regular on Fibber McGee and Molly, where he originated the Gildersleeve character as a McGee neighbor and nemesis in 1938. ("You're a haaa-aa-aard man, McGee" was a famous catch-phrase.) The character actually went through several first names and occupations before settling on Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve and his ownership of the Gildersleeve Girdleworks. He also worked on the horror series Lights Out and other radio programs, but his success and popularity as Gildersleeve set the stage for the character's own program, which became the peak of his career.

Peary's Gildersleeve proved popular enough that it was thought to try the character in his own show. Johnson's Wax, which sponsored Fibber McGee & Molly, sponsored an audition recording for The Great Gildersleeve, and the Kraft Cheese Company signed on as the show's regular sponsor. Gildersleeve was transplanted from Wistful Vista to Summerfield with more than just a locale change—now a bachelor (his character had a never-heard wife on Fibber McGee & Molly), and now the water commissioner instead of the owner of the Gildersleeve's Girlish Girdles company. With much of his pomposity and cantankerousness toned down, he was also newly domesticated and appointed guardian of his orphan niece Marjorie and nephew Leroy. Implicitly well-off though by no means wealthy, Gildersleeve was depicted winding up his lingerie-making company and taking up a new life as Summerfield's water commissioner.

The Great Gildersleeve premiered August 31, 1941, and became a steady hit for the rest of the decade, Peary's sonorous voice and flustered catchphrases ("You're a brii-iii-iight boy, Leroy!" was a modification of his famous McGee catchphrase) among radio's most familiar sounds. Lurene Tuttle played Marjorie; Walter Tetley, a veteran of Fred Allen's Town Hall Tonight cast and other shows, played Leroy; and, Lillian Randolph played Gildersleeve's ego-puncturing maid and housekeeper, Birdie.

The show's humor, like that of McGee, was drawn through clever word-play and phrasemaking as well as Gildersleeve's earnest stumbling and basically warmhearted nature. His new nemesis was Judge Horace Hooker (Earle Ross) ("That crook of a Hooker has hooked our cook!"), who oversaw his guardianship of Marjorie and Leroy and became a friend and periodic rival in various schemes. Periodically, storylines were serialized, such as some of Gildersleeve's romantic interests (especially his aborted marriage plans with Leila Ransom) and political aspirations (he once ran for Summerfield mayor); in time, some of the clever word playing was toned down.

Peary also found occasion to weave his singing voice into show episodes, such as "Mystery Voice" [5/10/1942] in which he referenced his former Spanish Serenader radio persona in a plot involving a Brazilian singer on a local radio show (Mel Blanc guested as the station manager), concurrently referencing his Portuguese heritage. But his best-remembered vocalism would be what radio historians have called his "dirty laugh," a descending giggle that could start from sarcasm and finish in embarrassment or substitute for being at a schoolboy-like loss for words.

Other characters in and out of the Gildersleeve orbit included Richard LeGrand as Peavey the druggist (his dry, almost mumbled "Well, now, I wouldn't say that" also became a familiar catch-phrase), Arthur Q. Bryan (making a name as sarcastic Doc Gamble on Fibber McGee & Molly) as Floyd the barber, Ken Christy as police chief Gates, Shirley Mitchell as Leila Ransom, Bea Benaderet as another Gildersleeve paramour Eve Goodwin, and occasionally Gale Gordon (Mayor La Trivia on McGee) as Rumson Bullard, a neighbor who served Gildersleeve the way Gildersleeve had once served Fibber McGee—an equal for obnoxiousness.

Peary also featured in four Great Gildersleeve feature films during the 1940s.

Later career

With CBS in the middle of a talent raid that had already lured Jack Benny and other NBC stars, Peary was offered a CBS deal of his own in 1950, after he chafed over NBC's and Kraft's reluctance to let him use his singing voice more often on Gildersleeve and to give him more part in the show's ownership than he already had. Radio historian Gerald Nachman, in Raised on Radio, said Peary and his agents at MCA had negotiated fruitlessly to get Peary a bigger stake in the show's ownership. When CBS began luring Benny (also an MCA client) and others away from NBC, mostly by offering the performers better capital-gains terms against the still-high postwar U.S. taxes than NBC was willing to do, Peary listened and signed with the network.

Kraft Foods, who sponsored The Great Gildersleeve and owned the intellectual properties, refused to bring the program to CBS. Gildersleeve remained on NBC with Willard Waterman, whose voice resembled Peary's and who had known Peary since their early Chicago days, cast in the title role. Waterman refused to appropriate the famous Gildersleeve laugh, believing Peary alone should have title to that trademark, but otherwise slipped easily into the role; Peary himself approved of Waterman's approach, at least on radio. When the series moved to television in 1955, Peary remarked that Waterman, who was much taller than Peary, was too large to pull off the role (which Peary imagined as being a small man with delusions of grandeur) on-screen.

At CBS, Peary began a new situation comedy, The Harold Peary Show, sometimes known as Honest Harold, a title that was actually the name of the fictitious radio show the new character hosted. Radio veteran Joseph Kearns (later familiar as Mr. Wilson on television's Dennis the Menace) played veterinarian Dr. Yancey, known better as Doc Yak-Yak and resembling former foil Judge Hooker. The new show also borrowed a few Gildersleeve plot devices, such as running for mayor and engagements to two women. In what was possibly a desperate attempt to recreate the Gildersleeve magic, it even brought in actress Shirley Mitchell, virtually recreating her Gildersleeve role of Leila Ransom, under the name of Florabelle Breckenridge. Additionally, Honest Harold's secretary at the radio station, Glory, bears a more than passing resemblance to Gildersleeve's Water Department secretary, Bessie: both are stereotypical giggly blondes. Despite these efforts to recreate the power and ratings of "The Great Gildersleeve", The Harold Peary Show lasted only one season of 38 episodes.

On the March 21st,1951 radio show, the then governor of California, Earl Warren (later to become Chief Justice of the United States) honored native son, Harold Peary, on live radio, with the only award ever issued up to that time, for having completed his ten thousandth (10,000th) radio broadcast. This remains to this date, a monumental feat.

Films and television

Other than the four Gildersleeve films, Peary appeared in the Walt Disney movie A Tiger Walks (1964) and the Elvis Presley film Clambake (1967). He also worked in television, playing murderer Freddy Fell in the 1965 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Lover's Gamble." That same year he played Peabody in the Rod Serling-scripted "Sheriff of Fetterman's Crossing" episode of Lloyd Bridges' Western series The Loner. He also appeared in recurring roles in several sitcoms, such as Herb Woodley in the TV version of Blondie, and as Mayor LaTrivia in the TV version of Fibber McGee and Molly, Peary made guest appearances in numerous sitcoms, including The Dick Van Dyke Show, My Three Sons, The Addams Family, O.K. Crackerby, My Mother, The Car, Petticoat Junction, That Girl, The Brady Bunch and Love, American Style. In the 1960s and 70s, Peary was also featured in a series of popular television ads for Faygo soda pop.

In the 1970s Peary found work as a voice actor, most memorably as Big Ben, the whale with a clock in its tail, in two Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer productions, Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976) and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979), the latter being Peary's final acting credit.

Post-network career

Peary worked as a disc jockey at radio station WMGM in New York City. Beginning in 1953, he had a one-hour program Monday-Saturday.

Peary spent most of the rest of his life voice-acting in animated work by Rankin-Bass and Hanna-Barbera and others. He appeared in numerous commercials for products such as: Gibraltar Savings and Loan, Charmin, Faygo, Red Goose Shoes, and Challenge Dairy.


He died on March 30, 1985, from a heart attack at age 76. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.


Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (TV Movie) as
Big Ben (voice, as Hal Peary)
Yogi's Space Race (TV Series) as
Fenwick Fuddy
- Franzia (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- Race Through the Planet of the Monsters (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- Race to the Center of the Universe (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- The Borealis Triangle (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- Race Through Wet Galoshes (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- Race Through Oz (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- The Lost Planet of Atlantis (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- The Mizar Marathon (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- The Spartikan Spectacular (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- Nebuloc-The Prehistoric Planet (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- The Pongo Tongo Classic (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- The Neptune 9000 (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
- The Saturn 500 (1978) - Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
Buford and the Galloping Ghost (TV Series) as
Fenwick Fuddy (voice, as Hal Peary)
Rudolph's Shiny New Year (TV Movie) as
Big Ben (voice)
Charley and the Angel as
Voice of Radio Announcer (uncredited)
Love, American Style (TV Series) as
Lorimer (segment "Love and the Baby Derby")
- Love and the Baby Derby/Love and the Burglar Joke/Love and the Favorite Family (1973) - Lorimer (segment "Love and the Baby Derby")
The Brady Bunch (TV Series) as
Mr. Goodbody
- Amateur Nite (1973) - Mr. Goodbody
The Roman Holidays (TV Series) as
- Hectic Holiday (1972) - Herman (uncredited)
The Doris Day Show (TV Series) as
Sam Appleton
- The People's Choice (1971) - Sam Appleton
Make Room for Granddaddy (TV Series) as
- The Arrangement (1970) - Max
That Girl (TV Series) as
- I Ain't Got Nobody (1970) - Harvey (as Hal Peary)
The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (TV Series) as
- No Hits, No Runs, No Oysters (1970) - Smead
Petticoat Junction (TV Series) as
Jack King / Brisbane Snead / Mr. Davis
- The Three Queens (1969) - Jack King
- First Night Out (1968) - Brisbane Snead
- Bedloe Gets His Comeuppance (1965) - Mr. Davis
Clambake as
Doorman (as Hal Peary)
The Red Skelton Hour (TV Series) as
- The Best Sheriff Money Can Buy (1966) - Mayor
Summer Fun (TV Series) as
Mayor Abner Bunker
- Pirates of Flounder Bay (1966) - Mayor Abner Bunker
My Three Sons (TV Series) as
Joe / Otis Finch
- Whatever Happened to Baby Chip? (1966) - Joe
- Be My Guest (1965) - Otis Finch
Invisible Diplomats (Short) as
Mr. Bullard (as Hal Peary)
The Addams Family (TV Series) as
Dr. Brown
- Uncle Fester, Tycoon (1965) - Dr. Brown
My Mother the Car (TV Series) as
Franklyn Hotchkiss / Willman
- My Son, the Ventriloquist (1965) - Franklyn Hotchkiss
- TV or Not TV (1965) - Willman
The Loner (TV Series) as
- The Sheriff of Fetterman's Crossing (1965) - Peabody
O.K. Crackerby! (TV Series) as
Chef Bouchard
- No Deposit, No Return (1965) - Chef Bouchard
The Patty Duke Show (TV Series) as
Howard Record
- Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow (1965) - Howard Record
Mona McCluskey (TV Series) as
- All the Dough and No Place to Go (1965) - Tibbs
Perry Mason (TV Series) as
Freddy Fell
- The Case of the Lover's Gamble (1965) - Freddy Fell (as Hal Peary)
The Baileys of Balboa (TV Series) as
Mr. Roberts
- Bailey's Band (1965) - Mr. Roberts (as Hal Peary)
The Bill Dana Show (TV Series) as
Fred Cooper
- The Essay (1964) - Fred Cooper (as Hal Peary)
A Tiger Walks as
Uncle Harry (uncredited)
The Dick Van Dyke Show (TV Series) as
Uncle Edward
- Who and Where Was Antonio Stradivarius? (1963) - Uncle Edward (as Hal Peary)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (TV Series) as
Jim Pike
- The Senator and the Pageboy (1962) - Jim Pike
Surfside 6 (TV Series) as
R. K. Mountain
- Irish Pride (1962) - R. K. Mountain
Tombstone Territory (TV Series) as
Douglas Metcalf
- The Siesta Killer (1960) - Douglas Metcalf
Fibber McGee and Molly (TV Series) as
Mayor LaTrivia
- The Masquerade Party (1959) - Mayor LaTrivia
- The Big Dance (1959) - Mayor LaTrivia
- The Shooting Gallery (1959) - Mayor LaTrivia
- The Trailer (1959) - Mayor LaTrivia
Colonel Humphrey Flack (TV Series) as
Hotel Manager
- Pearls of Wisdom (1959) - Hotel Manager (as Hal Peary)
Picnics Are Fun and Dino's Serenade (Short) as
Hamilton Ham (voice, as Hal Peary)
Spring and Saganaki (Short) as
Hamilton Ham (voice, as Hal Peary)
Blondie (TV Series) as
Herb Woodley
- Howdy, Neighbor (1957) - Herb Woodley
- The Party (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Cupid's Question Column (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Blondie's Double (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Blondie Redecorates (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Made to Fire (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Puppy Love (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Deception (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- The Rummage Sale (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- The Glamour Girl (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Blondie the Breadwinner (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Oil for the Lamps of Blondie (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- The Idol (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- The Payoff Money (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Husbands Once Removed (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- The Quiz Show (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- The Feud (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Home Sweet Home (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- The Other Woman (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Mr. Dithers Moves in (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Mr. Dithers Is Hospitalized (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
- Dagwood's Ego (1957) - Herb Woodley (as Hal Peary)
Circus Boy (TV Series) as
Al Garson
- Hortense the Hippo (1957) - Al Garson (as Hal Peary)
Outlaw Queen as
Bartender (as Hal Peary)
Wetbacks as
Juan Ortega
Private Secretary (TV Series) as
Franklin Hopper
- Oh Brother! (1956) - Franklin Hopper
Star Stage (TV Series)
- Screen Credit (1956)
Willy (TV Series) as
Perry Bannister
- Willy and Hurricane Harvey (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and Eccentric Henrietta (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and El Flamenco (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Franklin's Shoe Business (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy's Painting (1955) - Perry Bannister
- The Big Fight (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy Saves Harvey from Fraud (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy's New Dress (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and the Counterfeiters (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Papa's Hot Tip (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy's New York Neighbors (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and Hansel and Gretel (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and the Kate Fleming Case (1955) - Perry Bannister
- New York Bound (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and the Farewell Dance (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy Doubles in Brass (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy's Nephew (1955) - Perry Bannister
- The Daniel Boone Case (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and the Mystery Package (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Puppy Love (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and Grandpa's Piano (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and Aunt Cora's Beau (1955) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and L'Affaire Paul Revere (1955) - Perry Bannister
- The Charity Benefit (1955) - Perry Bannister
- The Fate of the Theatre (1954) - Perry Bannister
- Papa's Birthday (1954) - Perry Bannister
- The Substitution (1954) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and Muller vs. Muller (1954) - Perry Bannister
- The French Hat (1954) - Perry Bannister
- Job Offer (1954) - Perry Bannister
- Water Witch Case (1954) - Perry Bannister
- Willy and the Crook Julius (1954) - Perry Bannister
- Willy's Commission (1954) - Perry Bannister
- New York Colleague (1954) - Perry Bannister
- Operation Stocks (1954) - Perry Bannister
- Get Charlie's Goat (1954) - Perry Bannister
The Bob Cummings Show (TV Series) as
City Council Candidate / Charlie Henley
- Bob Plays Cupid (1955) - City Council Candidate
- Choosing Miss Coffee Break (1955) - Charlie Henley
Port of Hell as
Public Defender (TV Series) as
- Third Floor Rear (1954) - Ladislaus
The Spike Jones Show (TV Series) as
Movie Producer
- Episode #1.11 (1954) - Movie Producer
Spare the Child (Short) as
Narrator / Father (voice)
Schlitz Playhouse (TV Series) as
- Papa Goes to the Ball (1953) - Papa
Campbell Summer Soundstage (TV Series)
- My Nephew Norvell (1952)
Hollywood Opening Night (TV Series)
- My Nephew Norvell (1952)
Chevron Theatre (TV Series) as
- That's My Pop (1952) - Pop
Stars Over Hollywood (TV Series)
- My Nephew Norwell (1951)
Hot Spot (Short) as
The Devil (voice, uncredited)
Gildersleeve's Ghost as
Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve / Ghost of Randolph Q. Gildersleeve / Ghost of Jonathan Q. Gildersleeve
The Road to Victory (Short) as
The Great Gildersleeve (uncredited)
The Shining Future (Short) as
The Great Gildersleeve
Imagination (Short) as
Jack Dalton (uncredited)
Gildersleeve on Broadway as
Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve
Gildersleeve's Bad Day as
Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve
The Great Gildersleeve as
Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve
Seven Days' Leave as
Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve (as Harold Peary {The Great Gildersleeve})
Here We Go Again as
Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve
Look Who's Laughing as
Throckmartin P. Gildersleeve
Country Fair as
Comin' Round the Mountain as
Mayor Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve
Gildersleeve's Ghost (performer: "Sweet Genevieve" (1869) - uncredited)
Gildersleeve's Bad Day (performer: "Can't Get Out Of This Mood" (1942) - uncredited)
The Great Gildersleeve (performer: "My Bonnie (Lies Over the Ocean)" (1881) - uncredited)
Seven Days' Leave (performer: "A Touch of Texas" (1942))
Tomorrow Coast to Coast (TV Series) as
Self / Self - Interviewee
- Episode #1.220 (1974) - Self
- Old Time Radio (1974) - Self - Interviewee
The Merv Griffin Show (TV Series) as
Self - Guest
- Edgar Bergen, Mel Blanc, Harold Peary, Ezra Stone, Arch Oboler (1973) - Self - Guest
George Jessel Show (TV Series) as
- Episode #1.53 (1959) - Self
The Milton Berle Show (TV Series) as
- Episode #8.1 (1955) - Self (as Hal Peary)
The Ed Sullivan Show (TV Series) as
- A Cavalcade of Radio 1920-1955 (1955) - Self (as Hal Peary)
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Life (Short) as
Self (as Hal Peary)
Star of the Family (TV Series) as
- Episode #2.28 (1952) - Self
Screen Snapshots: Thirtieth Anniversary Special (Short) as
Self (as Hal Peary)
We, the People (TV Series) as
- Harold Peary, Kyle MacDonnell, Max Carey, Al Shean (1948) - Self
Screen Snapshots Series 27, No. 3: Out of This World Series (Short) as
Self (as Hal Peary)
Peeks at Hollywood (Short) as
Self (uncredited)
Unusual Occupations (Documentary short) as
Gildersleeve (uncredited)
Archive Footage
The ComicWeb: Old Time Radio Programs (Podcast Series) as
Self - The Great Gildersleeve / Self - Honest Harold
- Harold Peary: Harold Decides He Wants to Not Be Mayor (2018) - Self - The Great Gildersleeve
- Harold Peary: Harold's Campaign Speech (2018) - Self - Honest Harold
- Great Gildersleeve (10): Minding the Baby (2018) - Self - The Great Gildersleeve
The Magical World of Disney (TV Series) as
Uncle Harry / Second Hunter
- A Tiger Walks: Part 2 (1966) - Uncle Harry / Second Hunter (uncredited)
- A Tiger Walks: Part 1 (1966) - Uncle Harry / Second Hunter (uncredited)


Harold Peary Wikipedia

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