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Lily (Spring Byington) helps guest star Mickey Rooney with a crap game set up as a trap for those who robbed his home.
|Created by||Parke Levy|
|Written by||Bill Davenport
|Directed by||William Asher
Frederick de Cordova
|Theme music composer||Elliot Daniel|
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||156|
|Producer(s)||Frederick de Cordova
|Running time||30 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Desilu Productions, for CBS|
|Original release||October 4, 1954 – May 7, 1959|
|Related shows||Pete and Gladys|
December Bride centered on the adventures of Lily Ruskin, a spry widow played by Spring Byington, who was not, in fact, a "December" (rather old) bride but very much desired to become one if the right man would 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), was frequently seen. Married miserably himself, according to his constant complaints about his unseen wife Gladys, he also envied Matt's positive relationship with Lily, as he despised his own mother-in-law. The pilot episode premiered on October 4, 1954 and involved Lily Ruskin moving in with her daughter and son-in-law. December Bride was unusual in that all five stars appeared in all 111 episodes of the sitcom. Most of the scenes filmed for the series took place in the Henshaws' living room.
First-run episodes of December Bride aired for 5 seasons (1954-1959), sponsored by General Foods' Instant Maxwell House Coffee. During the first four seasons, the program was not shown in the summer, supplanted by "summer replacement" series (such as Ethel and Albert) but in its final year, repeat episodes were run in its timeslot during the summer months. On March 26, 1959, as the program wound down, Rory Calhoun, star of CBS's western series, The Texan, appeared as himself in the episode "Rory Calhoun, The Texan."
Thanks in part because it followed I Love Lucy, December Bride had high ratings its first four seasons - #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 went off in 1959.
In 1960, a new series set around many of the same characters, Pete and Gladys, debuted; this new series focused on Pete Porter and his now-seen wife, Gladys. Hilda Crocker appeared in 23 episodes of the new series, which aired until 1962.
After its production had ceased, CBS used repeat episodes to fill slots in its primetime programming. In July 1960, December Bride repeats were used to fill in for the second half of the Friday 9 pm Eastern timeslot vacated by Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, running until the beginning of the fall 1960 schedule, and again as a temporary replacement on Thursday nights in April 1961. Additionally, repeats were shown on CBS as a daytime program from October 1959 until March 1961. The daytime repeats, and an attempt to syndicate the show, were ratings failures; it was this phenomenon that prompted Michael Dann, an executive at CBS, to use the concept of "hammocking:" inserting a weak or new series in-between two better-established shows to improve its viewership.
- Spring Byington as Lily Ruskin
- Frances Rafferty as Ruth Henshaw
- Dean Miller as Matt Henshaw
- Verna Felton as Hilda Crocker
- Harry Morgan as Pete Porter
- Desi Arnaz, as himself
- Edgar Bergen, as himself
- Madge Blake, as Anita Henderson in "Family Quarrel" (1955) and as Margaret in "The Homecoming Show" (1957)
- Rory Calhoun, as himself, "Rory Calhoun, The Texan'
- Harry Cheshire, as Gus in "Lily Ruskin Arrives" (1954) and as Poole in "Big Game Hunter" (1955)
- Zsa Zsa Gabor, as herself
- Fred MacMurray, as himself
- Marjorie Main, as herself
- Lyle Talbot, six episodes in different roles
Script Supervisor was DaLonne Cooper
- Fred Sica Says He Was Defending Self in Row. (January 31, 1957). Los Angeles Times, p. 4.
- Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows
- Dunning, John, On the Air: The Encyclopedia Of Old-Time Radio
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to December Bride.|