December Bride

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December Bride
Mickey Rooney Spring Byington December Bride.JPG
Lily (Spring Byington) helps guest star Mickey Rooney with a crap game set up as a trap for those who robbed his home.
Created byParke Levy
Written byBill Davenport
Lou Derman
Arthur Julian
Parke Levy
Bob Schiller
Directed byWilliam Asher
Frederick de Cordova
Jerry Thorpe
StarringSpring Byington
Frances Rafferty
Dean Miller
Verna Felton
Harry Morgan
Theme music composerEliot Daniel
ComposerWilbur Hatch
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes156
ProducersFrederick de Cordova
Parke Levy
Running time30 minute
Production companiesDesilu Productions
CBS Television Network
DistributorCBS Films
Original networkCBS
Original releaseOctober 4, 1954 (1954-10-04) –
May 7, 1959 (1959-05-07)
Related showsPete and Gladys

December Bride is an American sitcom that aired on the CBS television network from 1954 to 1959. It was adapted from the original CBS radio network series of the same name[1] that aired from June 1952 through September 1953.


December Bride centered on the adventures of Lily Ruskin, a spry widow played by Spring Byington. Ruskin was not, in fact, a "December" bride (married late in life) but she very much desired to become one, if the right man were to come along. Aiding Lily in her search for this prospective suitor were her daughter, Ruth Henshaw (Frances Rafferty), and son-in-law, Matt Henshaw (Dean Miller), and her close friend Hilda Crocker (character actress Verna Felton). A next-door neighbor, insurance agent Pete Porter (Harry Morgan), frequently appeared. Married miserably, according to his constant complaints about his unseen wife, Gladys, Pete despised his own mother-in-law and envied Matt's happy relationship with Lily. The pilot episode premiered on October 4, 1954, and involved Lily moving in with her daughter and son-in-law. Most of the series was set in the Henshaws' living room.

First-run episodes of December Bride aired on television for 5 seasons (1954–1959), sponsored by General Foods' Instant Maxwell House Coffee. During the first four seasons, the program was supplanted in the summer months by "summer replacement" series (such as Ethel and Albert), but in its final year, reruns were shown in the same time slot during the summer hiatus.

Thanks in part to following I Love Lucy, December Bride had high ratings its first four seasons[2] – #10 in 1954–1955, #6 in 1955–1956, #5 in 1956–1957 and #9 in 1957–1958. When CBS moved it to Thursdays in the fall of 1958, ratings fell dramatically, and the series was cancelled in 1959.[3]o

In 1960, a new series titled Pete and Gladys debuted, set around many of the same characters. This spinoff series focuses on Pete Porter and his wife, now visible and played by comedian Cara Williams. The December Bride character Hilda Crocker, played by Verna Felton, appears in 23 episodes of Pete and Gladys, which aired until 1962.

After production had ceased, CBS used repeat episodes of December Bride to fill slots in its prime-time programming. In July 1960, December Bride repeats filled the second half of the Friday 9 pm Eastern time slot vacated by Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, running until the beginning of the fall schedule in 1960. The program served as a temporary replacement on Thursday nights in April 1961. December Bride repeats were shown on CBS as a daytime program from October 1959 until March 1961. The daytime reruns and an attempt to syndicate the show were ratings failures. His experience with December Bride encouraged CBS executive Michael Dann's use of "hammocking", framing a weak or new series between two established shows to improve its viewership.[4]


Guest stars[edit]


Parke Levy, who created and wrote December Bride, owned 50% of the program, and Desilu and CBS owned 25% each.[5]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRating
First airedLast aired
134October 4, 1954 (1954-10-04)May 23, 1955 (1955-05-23)1034.7
231October 3, 1955 (1955-10-03)May 14, 1956 (1956-05-14)637.0
330October 8, 1956 (1956-10-08)May 6, 1957 (1957-05-06)535.2
431October 7, 1957 (1957-10-07)May 19, 1958 (1958-05-19)930.7
531October 2, 1958 (1958-10-02)May 7, 1959 (1959-05-07)N/AN/A


DaLonne Cooper was the script supervisor.[6]


  1. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved 29 April 2017. December Bride, situation comedy.
  2. ^ Shapiro, Mitchell E.; Jicha, Tom (2015). The Top 100 American Situation Comedies: An Objective Ranking. McFarland. p. 151. ISBN 9781476623405. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Grimes, William (May 30, 2016). "Michael Dann, TV Programmer, Dies at 94; Scheduled Horowitz and Hillbillies". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  5. ^ "'December Bride' Shifts to Vidpix; Desilu Producing". Billboard. February 27, 1954. p. 7. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  6. ^ Fred Sica Says He Was Defending Self in Row. (January 31, 1957). Los Angeles Times, p. 4.


External links[edit]