May 20, 2008 3:38 PM
Before Harry Morgan became Col. Potter on “MASH” and Det. Joe Friday’s sidekick Bill Gannon on the 1960s incarnation of “Dragnet,” he played next-door neighbor Pete Porter on the popular sitcom “December Bride,” original episodes of which ran on CBS from 1954-59.
On the show, Pete forever complained about his scatterbrained wife, Gladys, but she was never seen.
After CBS schedule staple Lucille Ball left the network in 1960 for a shot at Broadway, CBS bought a “December Bride” spinoff starring Morgan called “Pete and Gladys,” on which the mythical Gladys—played by a very Lucy-like red-headed comedian named Cara Williams—would finally be seen. Hoping to fill the Lucy void, “Pete and Gladys” was slotted into a Monday night berth similar to “I Love Lucy’s”; it was even directed by “Lucy” veteran James V. Kern.
It didn’t work. Despite an Emmy nomination for Williams, the show was canceled after two seasons—just in time for Ball’s return to CBS’ Monday night schedule in “The Lucy Show.” But, weirdly, the network stripped “Pete and Gladys” repeats for two more years during daytime.
Here’s the first five minutes of a 1962 episode (complete with opening credits and a quaint Kellogg’s cereal commercial):
In this clip, even with an able assist from longtime "Lucy" nemesis Gale Gordon, it's painfully obvious that the show wasn't working as planned.