Topper (TV series)

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Topper
Topper TV series video cover.jpg
Cover of Alpha Video's DVD of the Topper TV series
Genre Fantasy sitcom
Written by Thorne Smith (original novel)
Robert Riley Crutcher
Stanley Davis
Donn Mullally
George Oppenheimer
Elon Packard
Norman Paul
Joel Rapp
Stephen Sondheim
Robert Thomsen
Directed by Richard L. Bare
Leslie Goodwins
James V. Kern
Lew Landers
Paul Landres
Leslie H. Martinson
Philip Rapp
Starring Leo G. Carroll
Lee Patrick
Robert Sterling
Anne Jeffreys
Theme music composer Roy Ingraham
Charles Koff
Edward Paul
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 78
Production
Producer(s) John W. Loveton
Bernard Schubert
Editor(s) Nick DeMaggio
Chuck Gladden
Location(s) Hal Roach Studios, Culver City, Calif.
Cinematography Gert Andersen
Kenneth Peach
William P. Whitley
Running time 24 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run October 9, 1953 (1953-10-09) – July 15, 1955 (1955-07-15)
Chronology
Preceded by Topper

Topper is an American fantasy sitcom based on the 1937 film of the same name, itself based on the novels by Thorne Smith. The series was broadcast on CBS from October 9, 1953 to July 15, 1955, and stars Leo G. Carroll in the title role. It finished at #24 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1954-1955 season.[1] Topper also earned an Emmy nomination for Best Situation Comedy in 1954.[2]

Synopsis[edit]

Sophisticated but stuffy Cosmo Topper (Carroll) is the vice president of a bank, married to sweet (but rather clueless) Henrietta (Lee Patrick). They live in a Los Angeles house they bought from the estate of a young couple, George and Marion Kerby (real life husband and wife Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys), who died after being swept away by an avalanche[citation needed]. A St. Bernard, Neil, who attempted to rescue them also died with them. Topper discovers his new home is haunted by the former occupants as well as Neil. Strangely, he is the only one able to see or hear them. Neil, the St. Bernard, loves martinis and a running gag is the invisible dog lapping up the drink.

The Kerbys try to bring some excitement and joy into the life of stodgy and conservative Topper. The ghosts cause strange (but humorous) events to happen, which an embarrassed Cosmo has to try to explain to others baffled—and even frightened—by them.

Cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]

Main cast in 1953.

Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim wrote eleven episodes for Topper's first season with George Oppenheimer. The show's producer was John W. Loveton, with his agent, Bernard L. Schubert, credited as co-producer.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco's Camel cigarettes was the show's sponsor; the Kerbys were seen smoking in every episode, as required by Reynolds; the actors, along with Carroll, also appeared in integrated commercials promoting the product at the end of the show, as well as announcing where free cartons of Camels were being sent to various military bases and veterans hospitals each week. Both ABC and NBC aired repeats of these episodes (ABC in 1955 and NBC in 1956).

There were at least two forms of the opening announcement. In one, Anne Jeffries was introduced as "the loveliest ghost in town," Robert Sterling as "the liveliest ghost in town," and Neil the St. Bernard as "the deadliest ghost in town." The announcer then continued: "Three ghosts—and only three people in the world can see them: you, and I, and Cosmo Topper." In a later show opening, Anne Jeffreys was introduced as "the ghostess with the mostest"; Robert Sterling as "that most sporty spirit," and Leo G. Carroll as "host to said ghosts."

Episode list[edit]

Season 1: 1953–54[edit]

Ep Title Air date
1 1 "Topper Meets the Ghosts" October 9, 1953 (1953-10-09)
2 2 "The Movers" October 16, 1953 (1953-10-16)
3 3 "Hiring the Maid" October 23, 1953 (1953-10-23)
4 4 "The Hypnotist" October 30, 1953 (1953-10-30)
5 5 "Reducing" November 6, 1953 (1953-11-06)
6 6 "The Spinster" November 13, 1953 (1953-11-13)
7 7 "Bank Securities" November 20, 1953 (1953-11-20)
8 8 "The Kid" November 27, 1953 (1953-11-27)
9 9 "Burglar" December 4, 1953 (1953-12-04)
10 10 "Uncle Jonathan" December 11, 1953 (1953-12-11)
11 11 "The Car Story" December 18, 1953 (1953-12-18)
12 12 "Christmas Carol" December 25, 1953 (1953-12-25)
13 13 "Masquerade" January 1, 1954 (1954-01-01)
14 14 "Second Honeymoon" January 8, 1954 (1954-01-08)
15 15 "The Socialite" January 15, 1954 (1954-01-15)
16 16 "The Surprise Party" January 22, 1954 (1954-01-22)
17 17 "Decorating" January 29, 1954 (1954-01-29)
18 18 "Astrology" February 5, 1954 (1954-02-05)
19 19 "Trip to Lisbon" February 12, 1954 (1954-02-12)
20 20 "The Proposal" February 19, 1954 (1954-02-19)
21 21 "Katie's Nephew" February 26, 1954 (1954-02-26)
22 22 "College Reunion" March 5, 1954 (1954-03-05)
23 23 "Economy" March 12, 1954 (1954-03-12)
24 24 "The Diamond Ring" March 19, 1954 (1954-03-19)
25 25 "Topper Runs for Mayor" March 26, 1954 (1954-03-26)
26 26 "The Painting" April 2, 1954 (1954-04-02)
27 27 "Henrietta Sells the House" April 9, 1954 (1954-04-09)
28 28 "Legacy" April 16, 1954 (1954-04-16)
29 29 "Topper Goes to Las Vegas" April 23, 1954 (1954-04-23)
30 30 "Topper Goes West" April 30, 1954 (1954-04-30)
31 31 "Sweepstakes" May 7, 1954 (1954-05-07)
32 32 "The Package" May 14, 1954 (1954-05-14)
33 33 "Neil Disappears" May 21, 1954 (1954-05-21)
34 34 "The Picnic" May 28, 1954 (1954-05-28)
35 35 "The Wedding" June 4, 1954 (1954-06-04)
36 36 "Preparations for Europe" June 11, 1954 (1954-06-11)
37 37 "The Boat" June 18, 1954 (1954-06-18)
38 38 "Theatricals" June 25, 1954 (1954-06-25)
39 39 "George's Old Flame" July 2, 1954 (1954-07-02)

Season 2: 1954–55[edit]

Ep Title Air date
40 1 "Topper Tells All" October 8, 1954 (1954-10-08)
41 2 "Topper's Ransom" October 15, 1954 (1954-10-15)
42 3 "County Fair" October 22, 1954 (1954-10-22)
43 4 "The Seance" October 29, 1954 (1954-10-29)
44 5 "Topper Strikes Gold" November 5, 1954 (1954-11-05)
45 6 "The Chess Player" November 12, 1954 (1954-11-12)
46 7 "Topper Goes to Washington" November 19, 1954 (1954-11-19)
47 8 "Jury Duty" November 26, 1954 (1954-11-26)
48 9 "Topper Lives Again" December 3, 1954 (1954-12-03)
49 10 "The Army Game" December 10, 1954 (1954-12-10)
50 11 "Topper's Accident" December 17, 1954 (1954-12-17)
51 12 "Topper's Quiet Christmas" December 24, 1954 (1954-12-24)
52 13 "Topper's Happy New Year" December 31, 1954 (1954-12-31)
53 14 "Topper's Deception" January 7, 1955 (1955-01-07)
54 15 "Topper's Guest" January 14, 1955 (1955-01-14)
55 16 "Topper's Rejuvenation" January 21, 1955 (1955-01-21)
56 17 "Topper in Mexico" January 28, 1955 (1955-01-28)
57 18 "Topper Hits the Road" February 4, 1955 (1955-02-04)
58 19 "Topper at the Races" February 11, 1955 (1955-02-11)
59 20 "Topper's Racket" February 18, 1955 (1955-02-18)
60 21 "Topper's Amnesia" February 25, 1955 (1955-02-25)
61 22 "Topper's Arabian Night" March 4, 1955 (1955-03-04)
62 23 "The House Wreckers" March 11, 1955 (1955-03-11)
63 24 "Topper Makes a Movie" March 18, 1955 (1955-03-18)
64 25 "King Cosmo the First" March 23, 1955 (1955-03-23)
65 26 "Topper's Double Life" March 30, 1955 (1955-03-30)
66 27 "Topper Fights a Duel" April 8, 1955 (1955-04-08)
67 28 "Topper's Egyptian Deal" April 15, 1955 (1955-04-15)
68 29 "Topper's Uranium Pile" April 22, 1955 (1955-04-22)
69 30 "Topper's Spring Cleaning" April 29, 1955 (1955-04-29)
70 31 "Topper Goes to School" May 6, 1955 (1955-05-06)
71 32 "The Blood Brother" May 13, 1955 (1955-05-13)
72 33 "Topper's Highland Fling" May 20, 1955 (1955-05-20)
73 34 "Topper's Desert Island" May 27, 1955 (1955-05-27)
74 35 "The Neighbors" June 3, 1955 (1955-06-03)
75 36 "Topper's Counterfeiters" June 10, 1955 (1955-06-10)
76 37 "Topper's Insurance Scandal" June 17, 1955 (1955-06-17)
77 38 "Topper's Other Job" June 24, 1955 (1955-06-24)
78 39 "Topper's Vacation" July 15, 1955 (1955-07-15)

Syndication and DVD release[edit]

Topper would long be popular in syndication, with the Camel commercials and references removed, but with the characters still seen smoking.

While collections of those episodes that have passed into the public domain have been released, the series has yet to see a full DVD release.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]