Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Life of Riley starring William Bendix

The Life of Riley tv series/show starring William Bendix

""The Life of Riley" TV series ran for six seasons, from January 2, 1953 – May 23, 1958. It was produced by Tom McKnight for NBC, and featured William Bendix. He was supported by Marjorie Reynolds, replacing both Paula Winslowe and Rosemary DeCamp, as wife Peg, Tom D'Andrea as schemer buddy Gillis, Gloria Blondell as Gillis' wife, Honeybee, Lugene Sanders as daughter Babs, and Wesley Morgan as son Junior. This Life of Riley series with Bendix, was a ratings hit, ranking at #16 in its first season, with four of its six seasons in the top 30, and ran for a total of 217 episodes. It then went into syndicated reruns.

In all of the show's incarnations, the comedic plotlines centered around Riley himself, a gullible and occasionally clumsy (but big-hearted) lug, and the doings and undoings of his family. Riley's penchant for turning mere trouble into near-disaster through his well-intentioned bumbling was often aided or instigated by his arch best friend/next-door neighbor, Gillis.

In several ways, Riley was a prototype for later blue-collar sitcom protagonists such as blustery, get-rich-quick schemer Ralph Kramden and his animated stone-age counterpart Fred Flintstone; blustery bigot Archie Bunker; benign, bighearted Dan Conner; and King of Queens Doug Heffernan. Perhaps the greatest tribute to The Life of Riley was paid by Married... with Children: Ed O'Neill's language and manner of speaking as Al Bundy are remarkably similar to Bendix's, and Al's wife, like Riley's, is named Peg. Bendix's Riley, especially, was perhaps too guileless to be the true prototype for this group, but for making blue-collar characters as operable on television as on radio or in film, Chester Riley earned his place in broadcasting history." -Wikipedia

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