OTR Spotlight: The Aldrich Family

by Josh

Henry Aldrich comic book"Hen-reeeeeeeeeeeee! Hen-ree Al-drich!" "Coming mother" is the classic opening to one of old time radios most underrated comedies. The Aldrich Family was a popular show that followed a young teenage boy named Henry Aldrich. Henry and his pal Homer and others, were always finding themselves stuck in a sticky situation. Always playing off of situational comedy that found Henry and the gang always attempting to find a way out of their mess.Henry Aldrich Old Time Radio

The Aldrich Family was the creation of Clifford Goldsmith, a Broadway playwright, who created the character in his play What A Life. Rudy Vallee saw the play he immediately asked Goldsmith to create some sketches and adaptations that would eventually become a radio show. These small adaptations became a 39 week run on the Kate Smith Hour, turning into a popular hit.

This lead to the eventual launch of The Aldrich Family, which became part of NBC's Sunday night lineup and a summer replacement for The Jack Benny Show. It first aired on July 2, 1939, and it stayed there until October 1, 1939, when it moved to Tuesday nights at 8 p.m., sponsored by General Foods's popular gelatin dessert Jell-O, which also sponsored Jack Benny at the time. The Aldrich Family ran in that slot from October 10, 1939 until May 28, 1940, moving to Thursdays, from July 4, 1940 until July 20, 1944. After a brief hiatus, the show moved to CBS, running on Fridays from September 1, 1944 until August 30, 1946 with sponsors Grape Nuts and Jell-O before moving back to NBC from September 5, 1946 to June 28, 1951 on Thursdays and, then, as a Sustaining program in its final run of September 21, 1952 to April 19, 1953 on Sundays.

Within 2 years the show had become a major success, earning a top 10 rating and becoming nearly as popular as The Jack Benny Show and the Bob Hope Show. Goldsmith became the highest paid writer on the air waves, earning $3,000 a week.

Jackie Kelk and Ezra Stone radio recordingEzra Stone kept the lead role until 1942, when he entered the Army for World War II. Norman Tokar succeeded Stone as Henry for two seasons. Best known for his later work directing the television hit Leave It to Beaver — whose approach of telling its stories from the vantage point of a child may have been inspired by the similar implication in many Aldrich episodes — Tokar also helped write many of the Aldrich episodes. On The Aldrich Family, Tokar was followed by Dickie Jones (1943–44) and Raymond Ives (1944-45), before Stone returned to his signature role. Bobby Ellis became the last Henry Aldrich in 1952.

The Aldrich family has truly paved the way for many family entertainment shows that are still created today! These classics will continue to live on for years to come.

Listen to The Aldrich Family →

The Aldrich Family cast