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
GenreFantasy sitcom
Written byThorne Smith (original novel)
Robert Riley Crutcher
Stanley Davis
Donn Mullally
George Oppenheimer
Elon Packard
Norman Paul
Joel Rapp
Stephen Sondheim
Robert Thomsen
Directed byRichard L. Bare
Leslie Goodwins
James V. Kern
Lew Landers
Paul Landres
Leslie H. Martinson
Philip Rapp
StarringLeo G. Carroll
Lee Patrick
Robert Sterling
Anne Jeffreys
Theme music composerRoy Ingraham
Charles Koff
Edward Paul
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes78
Production
Producer(s)John W. Loveton
Bernard L. Schubert
Production location(s)Hal Roach Studios, Culver City, Calif.
CinematographyGert Andersen
Kenneth Peach
William P. Whitley
Editor(s)Nick DeMaggio
Chuck Gladden
Running time24 minutes
Release
Original networkCBS
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseOctober 9, 1953 (1953-10-09) – July 15, 1955 (1955-07-15)

Topper is an American fantasy sitcom based on the 1937 film Topper, which was based on two novels Topper and Topper Takes a Trip 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 City 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. 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
11"Topper Meets the Ghosts"TBATBAOctober 9, 1953 (1953-10-09)
22"The Movers"TBATBAOctober 16, 1953 (1953-10-16)
33"Hiring the Maid"TBATBAOctober 23, 1953 (1953-10-23)
44"The Hypnotist"TBATBAOctober 30, 1953 (1953-10-30)
55"Reducing"TBATBANovember 6, 1953 (1953-11-06)
66"The Spinster"TBATBANovember 13, 1953 (1953-11-13)
77"Bank Securities"TBATBANovember 20, 1953 (1953-11-20)
88"The Kid"TBATBANovember 27, 1953 (1953-11-27)
99"Burglar"TBATBADecember 4, 1953 (1953-12-04)
1010"Uncle Jonathan"TBATBADecember 11, 1953 (1953-12-11)
1111"The Car Story"TBATBADecember 18, 1953 (1953-12-18)
1212"Christmas Carol"TBATBADecember 25, 1953 (1953-12-25)
1313"Masquerade"TBATBAJanuary 1, 1954 (1954-01-01)
1414"Second Honeymoon"TBATBAJanuary 8, 1954 (1954-01-08)
1515"The Socialite"TBATBAJanuary 15, 1954 (1954-01-15)
1616"The Surprise Party"TBATBAJanuary 22, 1954 (1954-01-22)
1717"Decorating"TBATBAJanuary 29, 1954 (1954-01-29)
1818"Astrology"TBATBAFebruary 5, 1954 (1954-02-05)
1919"Trip to Lisbon"TBATBAFebruary 12, 1954 (1954-02-12)
2020"The Proposal"TBATBAFebruary 19, 1954 (1954-02-19)
2121"Katie's Nephew"TBATBAFebruary 26, 1954 (1954-02-26)
2222"College Reunion"TBATBAMarch 5, 1954 (1954-03-05)
2323"Economy"TBATBAMarch 12, 1954 (1954-03-12)
2424"The Diamond Ring"TBATBAMarch 19, 1954 (1954-03-19)
2525"Topper Runs for Mayor"TBATBAMarch 26, 1954 (1954-03-26)
2626"The Painting"TBATBAApril 2, 1954 (1954-04-02)
2727"Henrietta Sells the House"TBATBAApril 9, 1954 (1954-04-09)
2828"Legacy"TBATBAApril 16, 1954 (1954-04-16)
2929"Topper Goes to Las Vegas"TBATBAApril 23, 1954 (1954-04-23)
3030"Topper Goes West"TBATBAApril 30, 1954 (1954-04-30)
3131"Sweepstakes"TBATBAMay 7, 1954 (1954-05-07)
3232"The Package"TBATBAMay 14, 1954 (1954-05-14)
3333"Neil Disappears"TBATBAMay 21, 1954 (1954-05-21)
3434"The Picnic"TBATBAMay 28, 1954 (1954-05-28)
3535"The Wedding"TBATBAJune 4, 1954 (1954-06-04)
3636"Preparations for Europe"TBATBAJune 11, 1954 (1954-06-11)
3737"The Boat"TBATBAJune 18, 1954 (1954-06-18)
3838"Theatricals"TBATBAJune 25, 1954 (1954-06-25)
3939"George's Old Flame"TBATBAJuly 2, 1954 (1954-07-02)

Season 2: 1954–55[edit]

Ep Title Air date
401"Topper Tells All"TBATBAOctober 8, 1954 (1954-10-08)
412"Topper's Ransom"TBATBAOctober 15, 1954 (1954-10-15)
423"County Fair"TBATBAOctober 22, 1954 (1954-10-22)
434"The Seance"TBATBAOctober 29, 1954 (1954-10-29)
445"Topper Strikes Gold"TBATBANovember 5, 1954 (1954-11-05)
456"The Chess Player"TBATBANovember 12, 1954 (1954-11-12)
467"Topper Goes to Washington"TBATBANovember 19, 1954 (1954-11-19)
478"Jury Duty"TBATBANovember 26, 1954 (1954-11-26)
489"Topper Lives Again"TBATBADecember 3, 1954 (1954-12-03)
4910"The Army Game"TBATBADecember 10, 1954 (1954-12-10)
5011"Topper's Accident"TBATBADecember 17, 1954 (1954-12-17)
5112"Topper's Quiet Christmas"TBATBADecember 24, 1954 (1954-12-24)
5213"Topper's Happy New Year"TBATBADecember 31, 1954 (1954-12-31)
5314"Topper's Deception"TBATBAJanuary 7, 1955 (1955-01-07)
5415"Topper's Guest"TBATBAJanuary 14, 1955 (1955-01-14)
5516"Topper's Rejuvenation"TBATBAJanuary 21, 1955 (1955-01-21)
5617"Topper in Mexico"TBATBAJanuary 28, 1955 (1955-01-28)
5718"Topper Hits the Road"TBATBAFebruary 4, 1955 (1955-02-04)
5819"Topper at the Races"TBATBAFebruary 11, 1955 (1955-02-11)
5920"Topper's Racket"TBATBAFebruary 18, 1955 (1955-02-18)
6021"Topper's Amnesia"TBATBAFebruary 25, 1955 (1955-02-25)
6122"Topper's Arabian Night"TBATBAMarch 4, 1955 (1955-03-04)
6223"The House Wreckers"TBATBAMarch 11, 1955 (1955-03-11)
6324"Topper Makes a Movie"TBATBAMarch 18, 1955 (1955-03-18)
6425"King Cosmo the First"TBATBAMarch 23, 1955 (1955-03-23)
6526"Topper's Double Life"TBATBAMarch 30, 1955 (1955-03-30)
6627"Topper Fights a Duel"TBATBAApril 8, 1955 (1955-04-08)
6728"Topper's Egyptian Deal"TBATBAApril 15, 1955 (1955-04-15)
6829"Topper's Uranium Pile"TBATBAApril 22, 1955 (1955-04-22)
6930"Topper's Spring Cleaning"TBATBAApril 29, 1955 (1955-04-29)
7031"Topper Goes to School"TBATBAMay 6, 1955 (1955-05-06)
7132"The Blood Brother"TBATBAMay 13, 1955 (1955-05-13)
7233"Topper's Highland Fling"TBATBAMay 20, 1955 (1955-05-20)
7334"Topper's Desert Island"TBATBAMay 27, 1955 (1955-05-27)
7435"The Neighbors"TBATBAJune 3, 1955 (1955-06-03)
7536"Topper's Counterfeiters"TBATBAJune 10, 1955 (1955-06-10)
7637"Topper's Insurance Scandal"TBATBAJune 17, 1955 (1955-06-17)
7738"Topper's Other Job"TBATBAJune 24, 1955 (1955-06-24)
7839"Topper's Vacation"TBATBAJuly 15, 1955 (1955-07-15)

Syndication and DVD release[edit]

Topper would long be popular in syndication for more than a decade. Camel commercials and their references were removed but the characters could still be seen smoking them.

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

The pilot episode, "Topper Meets the Ghosts", and, Episode 2, "The Movers", were broadcast on the Decades network on August 11, 2018.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "TV Ratings: 1954-1955". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Topper". Television Academy. Retrieved 3 October 2016.

External links[edit]