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 Directed by: Written by: Air date
11"Topper Meets the Ghosts"Philip RappGeorge Oppenheimer,
Philip Rapp
October 9, 1953 (1953-10-09)
22"The Movers"Philip RappGeorge Oppenheimer,
Stephen Sondheim
October 16, 1953 (1953-10-16)
33"Hiring the Maid"Philip RappGeorge Oppenheimer,
Stephen Sondheim
October 23, 1953 (1953-10-23)
44"The Hypnotist"Philip RappGeorge OppenheimerOctober 30, 1953 (1953-10-30)
55"Reducing"Philip RappGeorge OppenheimerNovember 6, 1953 (1953-11-06)
66"The Spinster"Philip RappGeorge OppenheimerNovember 13, 1953 (1953-11-13)
77"Bank Securities"Philip RappGeorge OppenheimerNovember 20, 1953 (1953-11-20)
88"The Kid"Philip RappGeorge OppenheimerNovember 27, 1953 (1953-11-27)
99"Burglar"Philip RappGeorge Oppenheimer (sp),
Stephen Sondheim (sp),
Hendrik Vollaerts (sp),
Robert Thomsen (s)
December 4, 1953 (1953-12-04)
1010"Uncle Jonathan"Philip RappGeorge OppenheimerDecember 11, 1953 (1953-12-11)
1111"The Car Story"Leslie GoodwinsGeorge Oppenheimer,
Philip Rapp,
Stephen Sondheim
December 18, 1953 (1953-12-18)
1212"Christmas Carol"Paul LandresGeorge OppenheimerDecember 25, 1953 (1953-12-25)
1313"Masquerade"Lew LandersGeorge Oppenheimer,
Robert Thomsen
January 1, 1954 (1954-01-01)
1414"Second Honeymoon"Philip RappDonn Mullally (s),
George Oppenheimer
January 8, 1954 (1954-01-08)
1515"The Socialite"Philip RappGeorge Oppenheimer,
Stephen Sondheim
January 15, 1954 (1954-01-15)
1616"The Surprise Party"Lew LandersGeorge OppenheimerJanuary 22, 1954 (1954-01-22)
1717"Decorating"Lew LandersGeorge Oppenheimer,
Stephen Sondheim
January 29, 1954 (1954-01-29)
1818"Astrology"Lew LandersGeorge Oppenheimer,
Stephen Sondheim
February 5, 1954 (1954-02-05)
1919"Trip to Lisbon"Lew LandersGeorge Oppenheimer,
Stephen Sondheim
February 12, 1954 (1954-02-12)
2020"The Proposal"Lew LandersGeorge OppenheimerFebruary 19, 1954 (1954-02-19)
2121"Katie's Nephew"TBAGeorge OppenheimerFebruary 26, 1954 (1954-02-26)
2222"College Reunion"Lew LandersNorman PaulMarch 5, 1954 (1954-03-05)
2323"Economy"TBATBAMarch 12, 1954 (1954-03-12)
2424"The Diamond Ring"Leslie GoodwinsPhilip RappMarch 19, 1954 (1954-03-19)
2525"Topper Runs for Mayor"Paul LandresPhilip RappMarch 26, 1954 (1954-03-26)
2626"The Painting"Paul LandresGeorge OppenheimerApril 2, 1954 (1954-04-02)
2727"Henrietta Sells the House"Lew LandersPhilip RappApril 9, 1954 (1954-04-09)
2828"Legacy"Paul LandresRobert Riley CrutcherApril 16, 1954 (1954-04-16)
2929"Topper Goes to Las Vegas"Lew LandersStanley Davis,
Elon Packard
April 23, 1954 (1954-04-23)
3030"Topper Goes West"Lew LandersPhilip RappApril 30, 1954 (1954-04-30)
3131"Sweepstakes"Paul LandresRobert Riley CrutcherMay 7, 1954 (1954-05-07)
3232"The Package"Paul LandresJoel RappMay 14, 1954 (1954-05-14)
3333"Neil Disappears"TBAPhilip RappMay 21, 1954 (1954-05-21)
3434"The Picnic"Lew LandersGeorge OppenheimerMay 28, 1954 (1954-05-28)
3535"The Wedding"Lew LandersRobert Riley CrutcherJune 4, 1954 (1954-06-04)
3636"Preparations for Europe"James V. KernGeorge Oppenheimer,
Stephen Sondheim
June 11, 1954 (1954-06-11)
3737"The Boat"Richard L. BareGeorge OppenheimerJune 18, 1954 (1954-06-18)
3838"Theatricals"Lew LandersGeorge Oppenheimer,
Stephen Sondheim
June 25, 1954 (1954-06-25)
3939"George's Old Flame"Lew LandersGeorge Oppenheimer,
Stephen Sondheim
July 2, 1954 (1954-07-02)

Season 2: 1954–55[edit]

Ep Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
401"Topper Tells All"Philip RappGeorge Oppenheimer,
Philip Rapp
October 8, 1954 (1954-10-08)
412"Topper's Ransom"Philip RappRobert Riley CrutcherOctober 15, 1954 (1954-10-15)
423"County Fair"Philip RappPhilip RappOctober 22, 1954 (1954-10-22)
434"The Seance"Leslie GoodwinsRobert ThomsenOctober 29, 1954 (1954-10-29)
445"Topper Strikes Gold"Lew LandersPhilip RappNovember 5, 1954 (1954-11-05)
456"The Chess Player"TBASig HerzigNovember 12, 1954 (1954-11-12)
467"Topper Goes to Washington"Leslie GoodwinsPhilip RappNovember 19, 1954 (1954-11-19)
478"Jury Duty"TBARobert Riley CrutcherNovember 26, 1954 (1954-11-26)
489"Topper Lives Again"Leslie GoodwinsRobert Riley CrutcherDecember 3, 1954 (1954-12-03)
4910"The Army Game"TBADonn MullallyDecember 10, 1954 (1954-12-10)
5011"Topper's Accident"Lew LandersRobert Riley CrutcherDecember 17, 1954 (1954-12-17)
5112"Topper's Quiet Christmas"Leslie GoodwinsRobert Riley CrutcherDecember 24, 1954 (1954-12-24)
5213"Topper's Happy New Year"Lew LandersRobert Riley Crutcher,
Philip Rapp
December 31, 1954 (1954-12-31)
5314"Topper's Deception"Leslie GoodwinsRobert Riley CrutcherJanuary 7, 1955 (1955-01-07)
5415"Topper's Guest"Leslie GoodwinsStanley Davis,
Elon Packard
January 14, 1955 (1955-01-14)
5516"Topper's Rejuvenation"Lew LandersStanley Davis,
Elon Packard
January 21, 1955 (1955-01-21)
5617"Topper in Mexico"Lew LandersRobert Riley CrutcherJanuary 28, 1955 (1955-01-28)
5718"Topper Hits the Road"Leslie GoodwinsStanley Davis,
Elon Packard
February 4, 1955 (1955-02-04)
5819"Topper at the Races"Lew LandersNorman PaulFebruary 11, 1955 (1955-02-11)
5920"Topper's Racket"Leslie GoodwinsPhilip RappFebruary 18, 1955 (1955-02-18)
6021"Topper's Amnesia"Leslie GoodwinsRobert Riley CrutcherFebruary 25, 1955 (1955-02-25)
6122"Topper's Arabian Night"Leslie GoodwinsRobert Riley CrutcherMarch 4, 1955 (1955-03-04)
6223"The House Wreckers"Leslie GoodwinsPhilip RappMarch 11, 1955 (1955-03-11)
6324"Topper Makes a Movie"Lew LandersPhilip RappMarch 18, 1955 (1955-03-18)
6425"King Cosmo the First"Lew LandersPhilip RappMarch 23, 1955 (1955-03-23)
6526"Topper's Double Life"TBAPhilip RappMarch 30, 1955 (1955-03-30)
6627"Topper Fights a Duel"Lew LandersPhilip RappApril 8, 1955 (1955-04-08)
6728"Topper's Egyptian Deal"Leslie GoodwinsRobert Riley CrutcherApril 15, 1955 (1955-04-15)
6829"Topper's Uranium Pile"Leslie GoodwinsDonn MullallyApril 22, 1955 (1955-04-22)
6930"Topper's Spring Cleaning"Leslie GoodwinsRobert Riley CrutcherApril 29, 1955 (1955-04-29)
7031"Topper Goes to School"Leslie GoodwinsPhilip RappMay 6, 1955 (1955-05-06)
7132"The Blood Brother"Lew LandersStanley Davis,
Elon Packard
May 13, 1955 (1955-05-13)
7233"Topper's Highland Fling"Leslie H. MartinsonRobert Riley CrutcherMay 20, 1955 (1955-05-20)
7334"Topper's Desert Island"Leslie GoodwinsRobert Riley CrutcherMay 27, 1955 (1955-05-27)
7435"The Neighbors"Leslie GoodwinsGeorge OppenheimerJune 3, 1955 (1955-06-03)
7536"Topper's Counterfeiters"Leslie H. MartinsonRobert Riley CrutcherJune 10, 1955 (1955-06-10)
7637"Topper's Insurance Scandal"Lew LandersSig HerzigJune 17, 1955 (1955-06-17)
7738"Topper's Other Job"Lew LandersPhilip RappJune 24, 1955 (1955-06-24)
7839"Topper's Vacation"Lew LandersRobert Riley CrutcherJuly 15, 1955 (1955-07-15)

Syndication and DVD release[edit]

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

Collections of episodes in the public domain have been released on home video but the series has not been given 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]