The Great Gildersleeve was a radio situation comedy broadcast in the USA from August 31, 1941, to 1958. Initially written by Leonard Lewis Levinson, it was one of broadcast history’s earliest spin-off programs. The series was built around the character Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, a regular element of the radio situation comedy Fibber McGee and Molly. The character was introduced in the October 3, 1939 episode (number 216) of that series. Actor Harold Peary had played a similarly named character, Dr. Gildersleeve, on earlier episodes. The Great Gildersleeve enjoyed its greatest popularity in the 1940s. Peary played the character during its transition from the parent show into the spin-off and later in four feature films released at the height of the show’s popularity.
In Fibber McGee and Molly, Peary’s Gildersleeve had been a pompous windbag and antagonist of Fibber McGee. “You’re a haa-aa-aa-aard man, McGee!” became a Gildersleeve catchphrase. The character went by several aliases on Fibber McGee and Molly; his middle name was revealed to be “Philharmonic” in “Fibber Discovers Gildersleeve’s Locked Diary” episode #258 on October 22, 1940.
“Gildy” grew so popular that Kraft Foods—promoting its Parkay margarine—sponsored a new series featuring Peary’s somewhat mellowed and always befuddled Gildersleeve as the head of his own family.