AUGUST 17, 2001

Walter Tetley and Harold Peary
Walter Tetley and Harold Peary

Fully realizing that this feature will only just scratch the surface, on Walter Tetley's radio career, we humbly offer a few words, about his role in The Great Gildersleeve show, from the 40s and the 50s. Hopefully we will be revising, and editing, this article, in the near future. Thanks to two of our readers, I have had the opportunity to listen to 139 episodes from this great series. One of our readers sent me 179 episodes, between the years of 1941-1946 and a second reader sent me two episodes from the 1948 season. As you can see, at this writing, I still have 42 episodes to go. I feel, however, that I have listened to enough of this collection, to be able to make a commentary.

If you have already perused our Peabody's Pony Express, and our Tribute to Walter Tetley, you already know quite a few things, about the different shows, that Tetley was involved in, during those "Radio Days" (Woody Allen, forgive me, for stealing one of your movie titles!). Of course, on The Great Gildersleeve, Tetley played Leroy Forrester, the juvenile nephew of the star character, Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve.

Though I have never had children, myself, I think that I almost have a grasp for what it is like to be a parent, after listening to all the grief that Leroy has given his guardian, Uncle Mort!! Walter so very masterfully created a very life-like and realistic portrait, of a twelve-year-old boy, on that show. Leroy has his very mischievous side, which is often combined with a savvy edge of humor. At the same time, Leroy is usually almost always a very good boy-----not at all like the hooligan, Julius, whom he later played on The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show.

Leroy was often quite funny, when he repeated, time and time again, some of his own stock expressions: "ARE YOU KIDDING???" (this one really grated on Gildersleeve's nerves!) and "OH, FOR CORN'S SAKE!!" (this one was usually said, with a groan of resignation, about something that he knew he just could not get out of). He was even funnier, when he occasionally decided to steal one of his uncle's own lines: "OHHHHHH--------THIS IS GOING TO BE ONE OF MY B-A-A-A-AD DAYS!!!"

I do remember at least two or three episodes, when it must have been really fun, for Walter Tetley to play Leroy. One involved his Uncle Mort's, then fiancée, Leila Ransom. Leila was determined to get Gildersleeve, to at least consider, moving into another house, after they were to marry. Even after Gildersleeve told her, that there had been a murder in that house, she still wanted him to look at this house ("Gildy" probably made that up, because he really wanted to stay in his own house). Well.........when Gildersleeve and Leila, took a peek, inside that empty house (it had been empty for many years), who should be hiding, there, in a dark portion of the house, but Leroy! He let out a blood-curdling, ghostly noise, in his young, puerile voice, and succeeded in scaring Leila Ransom out of that house. Though there was no doubt, that the voice was that of a child, he still scared her!

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