Gale Gordon stared as Osgood Conklin, the blustering and parsimonious grump of a principle of Madison High School who seemed determined to ruin everyone's good time. He is the central antagonist of the show, but it wouldn't be comical if he was just simply a mean man. Gordon developed a technique that he called the "slow burn" where the angry of the character develops slowly to a sudden insane red-faced outburst. Mr. Conklin's blustery reactions to Miss Brooks allowed for her snappy comebacks to seem all the more gratifying. Gordon made a career of such roles opposite another funny redhead, Lucille Ball.
Born with a cleft plate, Gordon had speech lessons to improve his speaking abilities. When he was 8 years old his mother (Gloria Gordon a la My Friend Irma) moved them to New York City in pursuit of acting work. He was taunted as a young boy for his old fashioned clothing (wore knickers to his first day of class—big fashion faux pas) and decidedly hated school.
While working in the Canadian production of "The Dancers", Richard Bennett noticed Gale slight speech impediment and encouraged him to develop his voice. He studied with such dedication that his voice became what John Barrymore said had once of the best voices on old time radio and perfect dictation (even while working on less than serious work like Fibber McGee and Molly).
In 1926, Gale Gordon made his debut on the radio and by 1933 he had risen to become the highest paid radio actor in Hollywood getting $150 a week. He excelled in dramatic roles on shows such as Lux Radio Theater, Flash Gordon, and Sherlock Holmes. In 1941, Gordon received his big break into comedy roles playing Mayor LaTrivia for 12 years on Fibber McGee and Molly. He took additional on radio roles on Our Miss Brooks and My Favorite Husband. As a character actor in comedies, he felt that it was impossible to over-do his character Mr. Conklin in Our Miss Brooks old time radio show.
Gale Gordon proved to be a small screen success story his the television adaptation of Our Miss Brooks. His wide range of facial expressions allowed his to demonstrate his comic capacity. In 1962, Gale Gordon joined the cast of "Dennis The Menace," He was to play the "second" Mr. Wilson after the first, Joseph Kearns, had died. Lucille Ball, who worked with Gale Gordon since the 1940s, asked Gordon to join the cast of the "The Lucy Show" as Theodore J. Mooney. In 1986, Lucy and Gale teamed up again on "Life With Lucy."
Gale Gordon made a career playing the lovable grouch on TV's Our Miss Brooks, Dennis the Menace and Lucille Ball's long-running sitcoms. An institution of television and old time radio, he made a place for himself in the history of entertainment typecast as a blustery authority figure. Gale Gordon died on 30 June 1995 of cancer at the Redwood Terrace Heath Centre in Escondido, California. Gale Gordon was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.
See also: Gale Gordon Movie Appearances
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