Sunday Funnies: The Life of Riley: The Boss's Son-in-law (10-22-1944)

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The Life of Riley is an American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film, a 1950s teThe Life of Riley is an American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film, a 1950s television series, and a 1958 comic book.

Radio:

The radio program initially aired on the Blue Network (later known as ABC) from January 16, 1944, to July 8, 1945, it then moved to NBC, where it was broadcast from September 8, 1945, to June 29, 1951.

Irving Brecher pitched the radio series for friend Groucho Marx under the title The Flotsam Family, but the sponsor balked at what would have been essentially a straight head-of-household role for Marx. (Marx would get his own series Blue Ribbon Town instead.) Brecher then saw William Bendix as taxicab company owner Tim McGuerin in Hal Roach's The McGuerins from Brooklyn (1942). Radio historian Gerald Nachman quotes Brecher as stating, "He was a Brooklyn guy and there was something about him. I thought this guy could play it. He'd made a few films, like Lifeboat, but he was not a name. So, I took The Flotsam Family script, revised it, made it a Brooklyn Family, took out the flip-flippancies and made more meat-and-potatoes, and thought of a new title, The Life of Riley. Bendix's delivery and the spin he put on his lines made it work."

The reworked script cast Bendix as blundering Chester A. Riley, a wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft plant in California. His frequent exclamation of indignation—"What a revoltin' development this is!"—became one of the most famous catchphrases of the 1940s. It was later reused by Benjamin J. Grimm of the Fantastic Four. The radio series also benefited from the immense popularity of a supporting character, Digby "Digger" O'Dell (John Brown), "the friendly undertaker." Brecher told Brown, "I want a very sepulchral voice, quavering, morbid," and he got it right away.

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