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Subject: Archive: June 30, 1995 ~ Gale Gordon dies at 89

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Date Posted: Sunday, June 30, 08:52:35am

Obituary - Gale Gordon

San Francisco Chronicle
July 3 1995

Classic TV lovers yesterday mourned the death of Gale Gordon, whose grumpy and arrogant characters made him the comic foil in "Our Miss Brooks," three Lucille Ball series and scores of other shows.

Mr. Gordon, 89, died Friday at the Redwood Terrace Health Center after a long battle with cancer, nurse Joan Seward said Saturday night.

His actress wife, Virginia, died a few weeks earlier in the same nursing home, which is about 130 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Mr. Gordon, one of television and radio's most prolific actors, was best known for his work opposite Lucille Ball. He was testy bank manager Mr. Mooney on "The Lucy Show" in which Ball played a goofy, gaffe-making employee.

From 1968 to 1974, Mr. Gordon played Ball's brother-in-law and employer on From 1968 to 1974, Mr. Gordon played Ball's brother-in-law and employer on "Here's Lucy" and he was cast again in her short-lived 1986 series "Life with Lucy."

Mr. Gordon was also the irritable high school principal to Eve Arden's lovable teacher on "Our Miss Brooks" on radio and television from 1948 to 1956 and played irascible next-door neighbor Mr. Wilson on "Dennis the Menace" in the 1960s.

His supporting characters were often of a similar type, "pompous, stuffy, opinionated and loud. Therefore it is easy to make them humorous if the script writer is skillful," Mr. Gordon said in a 1951 interview.

He made several guest appearances on "The Donna Reed Show," which ran from 1958-1966 and starred Paul Petersen as son Jeff Stone.

"You could count on this man to show up and know what the jokes were and more importantly who the star was," Petersen said Sunday. "If you watched him pitching straight lines to Lucy and Eve Arden you just have to marvel.

" . . . He was so funny to work with because he'd done every joke ever written and had that big booming voice. . . . He was really a joy to work with."

In the early 1950s, before he made the transition to television, Mr. Gordon was playing regular roles in seven weekly radio broadcasts, including "Fibber McGee and Molly," "My Favorite Husband" and "The Great Gildersleeve."

The New York City-born son of a vaudeville performer and an actress also appeared in feature films, often as a stuffy military officer. They included "Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys," "All in a Night's Work," "Don't Give Up the Ship," "Visit to a Small Planet" and "All Hands on Deck."

Despite his long career, Mr. Gordon never became part of the Hollywood social scene. He made his home on 150 desert acres in Borrego Springs, about 150 miles southeast of Los Angeles near the Salton Sea.

Mr. Gordon had no children. He is survived by a sister, Judy Wormser, and several nieces and nephews.

He had asked to be cremated and have his ashes scattered at sea, but a date for services has not been set, according to his longtime friend Michael Bell.


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Gordon was Lucy's first choice to play "Fred Mertz" on "I Love Lucy," but he already committed to "Our Miss Brooks" (NT)He did, however, appear in three episodes before going on to star in her three later series.Monday, July 01, 09:26:05am

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