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Frequently Asked Questions about Fibber McGee and Molly

  1. What is Fibber McGee and Molly ?
  2. Who were Fibber McGee and Molly?
  3. How long was the show on?
  4. Who were the show's sponsors?
  5. What is Smackout ?
  6. Who was Don Quinn?
  7. Who was Phil Leslie?
  8. Who was Harlow Wilcox?
  9. Who was Billy Mills?
  10. Who were the King's Men?

1. What is Fibber McGee and Molly ?

Fibber McGee and Molly is a situation comedy radio show that was broadcast from 1935-1959 on the National Broadcasting Company, and can still be heard today on various local stations broadcasting old-time radio programs. The show was known for its vaudeville humor and Midwestern flavor. The action revolved mainly around Fibber and Molly McGee. Their friends and neighbors would visit the McGees' home and discuss events of the day, or join in on whatever the McGees were doing.

2. Who were Fibber McGee and Molly?

Fibber McGee and Molly were Jim and Marian Jordan.

Fibber was a braggart. He could never finish anything he started, and many times became involved in crusades that he couldn't win, as well as other ill-fated schemes.

Molly was the antithesis to Fibber. She was patient, kind, and level-headed. She always had a kind word for everyone and was the only person who could keep Fibber in check.

James Edward (Jim) Jordan was born on November 16, 1896 in the Kickapoo region near Peoria, Illinois. As a youth, he played basketball and sang at church functions. It was at church that he would meet Marian Driscoll.

Marian I. Driscoll was born near Peoria, Illinois on April 15, 1898. She was very interested in the arts, giving dancing and piano recitals, as well as singing at church.

Jim and Marian Jordan were married on August 31, 1918. Soon after Jim was drafted into the First World War ("the Big War," as Fibber would call it). He became ill in the influenza epidemic and was home within a year.

In order to support themselves, Jim took various jobs and Marian taught piano. Soon, however, they were going out on the road in their own musical revue.

In 1920, Marian gave birth to a daughter, Kathryn and later a son, James, Jr. in 1923.

The Jordans got into radio on a bet in Chicago in 1924. Jim bet his brother that he and Marian could do a better job than a singer they had heard on the radio. For the next several years, the Jordans were featured not only in their own musical programs, but in other series as well. The O'Henry Twins (sponsored by O'Henry Candy), The Air Scouts , and The Smith Family (considered by historians as the first radio soap opera) were among them.

Not long after,Smackout would give them national exposure and lead to their success in Fibber McGee and Molly.

Marian Jordan passed away on April 7, 1961 due to cancer.

Jim Jordan passed away on April 1, 1988 from blood clots on the brain.


3. How long was the show on?

Fibber McGee and Molly was on the air from 1935-1959. It premiered on April 16, 1935 and was on the air regularly (with the exception of a year period in 1956-57) until September 6, 1959.

There were several formats to the show:

The half-hour weekly version ran from April 16, 1935 until June 30, 1953 (on Monday nights [1935-1938] and Tuesdays, where it would spend the rest of its weekly run).

Due to Marian Jordan's health problems, the show became a 15-minute 5-day-a-week program on October 5, 1953. These shows were transcribed (recorded) ahead of time so that Marian could have adequate rest (virtually all of the half-hour series was done live). This format lasted until March 23, 1956.

A little over a year later, the Jordans were back doing 5 minute sketches on NBC's Monitor. Since Monitor was a weekend show, there were 5 different sketches broadcast on Saturday, and 5 more on Sunday. This format lasted from June 1, 1957 - September 6, 1959.

In 1960, the Jordans planned to sign a contract for three more years of sketches, but it was at this time that Marian was diagnosed with cancer.

4. Who were the show's sponsors?

The show was sponsored by:

  • Johnson's Wax (April 16, 1935 - May 23, 1950)
  • Pet Milk (September 19, 1950 - June 10, 1952)
  • Reynold's Metals (October 7, 1952 - June 30, 1953)
  • various other sponsors (October 5, 1953 - March 23, 1956, June 1, 1957 - September 6, 1959)


    5. What is Smackout ?

    Smackout was the show that led to Fibber Mc/Gee and Molly. It was centered around the Smackout general store and its storekeeper, Luke Grey. Luke Grey would tell outrageous tall-tales. Whatever item customers asked for, Luke seemed to be 'smackout' of it. Luke was played by Jim. Jim played a younger man (also named Jim) in the series as well. Marian played Marian, as well as Teeny, a little girl. Jim and Marian sang, and Marian provided musical accompaniment on the piano.

    The show premiered on Chicago's WMAQ on April 3, 1931. It went national in April, 1933 on the National Broadcasting Company. It lasted until August, 1935.

    6. Who was Don Quinn?

    Don Quinn was the creator of Fibber McGee and Molly , and the shows head writer from 1935-50, and assistant writer for the 1950-51 season.

    He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1900. He was an out-of-work cartoonist when he met the Jordans in 1931. The Jordans soon hired him as their writer and he created Smackout for them.

    Quinn left in 1951 to write another series he created, The Halls of Ivy .

    7. Who was Phil Leslie?

    Phil Leslie became co-writer of Fibber McGee and Molly on March 9, 1943, becoming head writer on September 19, 1950. He remained with the show until the last 15-minute broadcast on March 23, 1956.

    8. Who was Harlow Wilcox?

    Harlow Wilcox was the announcer of the show for its entire half-hour run. This included delivering all the commercials and being integrated into the storylines. Wilcox would simply appear in the context of the show and work the sponsor's product into whatever topic or situation was being discussed.

    Wilcox was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1900. Before doing Fibber McGee and Molly , he performed in Chatauqua (similar to vaudeville, but more family-oriented) as a baritone singer.

    Wilcox's commercial announcements were highly regarded. He worked on other shows, including Suspense and Amos 'n' Andy .

    9. Who was Billy Mills?

    William Randolph (Billy) Mills was the show's bandleader from January 10, 1938 until June 30, 1953 (the last half-hour broadcast).

    He was born in Flint, Michigan in 1900.

    Typically, the Billy Mills Orchestra had two or three instrumental numbers in the course of a half-hour broadcast.

    10. Who were the King's Men?

    The King's Men was the vocal quartet that was the featured vocal musical act on the show from 1940 - 1953. Members included Ken Darby, Jon Dodson, Bud Linn, and Rad Robinson.

    Ken Darby did the groups arrangements and also provided accompaniment on the piano. He also worked in films into the 1950's.