Walter's Radio Career Part II:

The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show:

January 12, 2002

Walter Tetley was truly at his ZENITH...........and in his heyday, between his work in The Great Gildersleeve and The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show. Doubtless there is even more radio work, that he did (in the 40s and the 50s), that we do not know about. As a radio entertainer he ECLIPSED, by far, all the other work that he did...........not just his cartoon work but even his movies (in which he played a physical, on-camera actor).

After listening to roughly 55 episodes, from The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show (thanks to the generosity of one of our readers, from the Walter Tetley Web Page) and about 180 episodes of The Great Gildersleeve, it is now even more, crystal clear to me, what one of our other readers was trying to tell me, many months ago: Peabody's Improbable History only scratched the surface, of Walter's work as a performer. I have taken great strides, to understand Walter Tetley better, through all these radio episodes, provided to us by our friends. In doing so, I find him to be, much less, the "great enigma", that he always was for me.

To borrow an expression from Joan Rivers (in one of her own autobiographies), Walter was WHITE HOT at this time!! Of course, to keep this all in perspective, he was WHITE HOT, as far as supporting actor roles, or character actor roles go. Even when he played teenage, grocery boy, Julius Abruzzio, in The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show, he appeared to be relatively limited, with what he could do with his voice; thus explaining, in part, why he rarely played the title or starring role.

Though Julius Abruzzio seemed much more mature, and savvy; much more like a man, he still had a very high-pitched voice. From what I have read, Julius was probably about 17 or 18 years old (at least 16, because he did drive a truck). I have not met very many 16 to 18-year-old men, with a voice as high as Tetley's Abruzzio. Julius sounded very similar to Leroy Forrester, from The Great Gildersleeve. There were a few differences however (and not just the fact that Julius was more mature). Tetley's Abruzzio character often spoke with a heavy Brooklyn accent. Walter did a very good job with that; the accent was very entertaining. I was not too surprised about that, however; there were a few times, when his Leroy character slipped up, and let out a mild New York, Jewish accent. Since Walter Tetley was born in New York City, it was probably second nature, for him to speak like a Brooklynite.

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