THE LIFE OF RILEY

Show Type: Sitcom

First Telecast: October 4, 1949

Last Telecast: August 22, 1958

Broadcast History:

October 1949 March 1950, Tuesday 9:30-10:00 on NBC

January 1953 September 1956, Friday 8:30-9:00 on NBC

October 1956 December 1956, Friday 8:00-8:30 on NBC

January 1957 August 1958, Friday 8:30-9:00 on NBC

Cast (1949-1950)

Chester A. Riley..... Jackie Gleason

Peg Riley..... Rosemary DeCamp

Junior..... Lanny Rees

Babs..... Gloria Winters

Jim Gillis..... Sid Tomack

Digby "Digger" O'Dell..... John Brown

Cast (1953-1959)

Chester A. Riley..... William Bendix

Peg Riley..... Marjorie Reynolds

Junior..... Wesley Morgan

Babs Riley Marshall..... Lugene Sanders

Jim Gillis (1953-1955, 1956-1958)..... Tom D'Andrea

SYNOPSIS

Televisions original lovable bumbler was Chester A. Riley, a hardhat with a soft heart and a genius for unwittingly turning order into chaos.

The role had been created on radio in 1943 by William Bendix. However, when the time came for the move to television, Bendix was tied up with movie commitments, and the opportunity went to young Jackie Gleason his first TV series.

Riley worked in an aircraft plant in California, but viewers usually saw him at home, cheerfully disrupting life with his malapropisms and ill-timed intervention into minor problems. His stock answer to every turn of fate became a catchphrase: "What a revoltin' development this is!" Riley's long-suffering wife, Peg, and their children, Babs and Junior, somehow saw that it always came out all right in the end. Others seen were Gillis, Riley's sarcastic friend, and "Digger" O'Dell, the smiling undertaker ("Guess I'd better be shoveling off..."), played by John Brown, the only member of the radio cast to make the transition to TV.

Jackie Gleason's bug-eyed portrayal of Riley did not catch on, and the program was cancelled after only one season. Three years later it returned with an entirely new cast, headed by William Bendix, and ran for five years. The cast was relatively stable through the second run, although a few neighbors came and went and Babs eventually left to get married and Junior to go off to college. Both kids returned occasionally to visit.

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