Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Aldrich Family


Here's Ezra Stone with the cast of THE ALDRCH FAMILY, arguably the world's first sitcom. I was privileged to appear opposite Ezra some 25 years ago now in one of his last appearances as Henry Aldrich in a re-creation at Cincinnati. I played his sidekick, Homer. If you ever read a biography of composer Irving Berlin, look for Ezra, who played an important role in Berlin's story. In later years he became aTV director known for THE MUNSTERS, LOST IN SPACE and DIANA, the sitcom with Diana Rigg.

2 comments:

cartoonjoe said...

I'm afraid I must disagree with your assessment of THE ALDRICH FAMILY as the first sitcom (unless there's a qualifier there that I'm missing).

Most histories of the situation comedy usually cite Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll's SAM 'N'HENRY, which premiered on WGN on Jan. 12, 1926 (and would eventually evolve into AMOS 'N' ANDY) as the first sitcom (considering S&H was inspired somewhat by THE GUMPS comic strip by Sidney Smith, and was intended as an audio comic strip, m as ybe the roots of the sitcom go back further than that).

Steven Thompson said...

I should have clarified. I meant the first modern sitcom with all the elements in place. Earlier examples like FIBBER McGEE AND MOLLY and JACK BENNY were too meta with their integrated commercials, songs and running gags.

As far as SAM 'N' HENRY, have you ever listened to it? I'd say it was more soap opera based on the few episodes I've heard. I suppose one could make the argument, though, for the early AMOS 'N' ANDY but even then their glory days as comedy were the 1940s.

Both ALDRICH FAMILY and THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE seem to me to be the first actual--no Vaudeville acts or winking audibly at the listener--situation-based comedies.