Life of Riley Radio Show

The first Life of Riley radio show aired on CBS from April 12, 1941 - September 6, 1941. This show didn't have much of a resemblance to the more famous Life of Riley radio show with William Bendix.

J. Riley Farnsworth (Lionel Stander)
Maude, an old maid (Grace Coppin)
Davie, her nephew (Jackie Grimes)
Peggy, daughter of the richest man in town & Riley's love interest (Peggy Conklin)
Announcers, Jackson Wheeler, George Bryan
Directors, Leonard Bercovici, Marx Loeb
Writers, Bercovici, Sidney Harmon

William Bendix as Chester A. Riley Life of Riley radio show

(aired from January 16, 1944 - June 8, 1945 on the Blue Network/ABC)

(aired September 8, 1945 - June 29, 1951 on NBC)

William Bendix as Chester A. Riley, the airplane riveter with a heart of gold, got himself and his family into the funniest craziest misunderstandings. This show lead into the television version that started in 1949 and ended in 1958. Numerous actors played the radio characters over the years.

The Life of Riley came from The Flotsam Family that was connected with Groucho Marx. The sponsor didn't accept him in the role. So producer Irving Brecher got the idea of using William Bendix for the part when he saw him in The McGuerins of Brooklyn. He looked rugged and blue collar. Bendix got the part after he auditioned. The character was renamed Chester A. Riley and Life of Riley became a hit show.

Sometimes, when Riley got in trouble, he received advice from coworker Gillis and Digby "Digger" O'Dell, the friendly undertaker. Digger's frequent lines were "You're looking fine, Riley-very natural" and "Cheerio-I'd better be shoveling off". Both of these characters were played by John Brown.

Bendix started in the acting profession at age 30 when the grocery store he was running went out of business because of the 1930s Depression. His film career began in 1942.

Bendix was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1906. His films include Wake Island (1942), The Glass Key (1942) with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, Lifeboat (1943), The Blue Dahlia (1945), Time Of Your Life (1948), Detective Story (1951) and Law Of The Lawless (1963).

When the show was moved to television in 1949, Bendix was unavailable contractually so Jackie Gleason got the job. Rosemary DeCamp played Peg, Lanny Rees was Junior and Gloria Winters appeared as Babs. John Brown with his Digger character was the only Life of Riley radio cast member to transition to TV's Life of Riley with Jackie Gleason. This run of the show ended soon in 1950. The Life of Riley radio version with Bendix was still airing until 1951. Bendix returned in the more successful TV version of Life Of Riley, 1953-1958.

Creator-Producer, Irving Brecher
Chester A. Riley (William Bendix)
Jim Gillis, Riley's neighbor & Digby "Digger" O'Dell, the friendly undertaker (John Brown)
Peg, Riley's wife (Grace Coppin, Paula Winslow, Georgia Backus)
Uncle Baxter (Hans Conried)
Junior, Riley's son (Jack Grimes, Scotty Beckett, Conrad Binyon, Bobby Ellis, Tommy Cook)
Babs, Riley's daughter (Peggy Conklin, Sharon Douglas, Barbara Eiler)
Olive "Honeybee" Gillis, Jim's wife (Shirley Mitchell)
Waldo Binney, Riley's neighbor (Francis "Dink" Trout)
Uncle Buckley (Charlie Cantor)
Directors, Al Kaye, Don Bernard
Writers, Alan Lipscott, Reuben Ship, Ashmead Scott, Robert Sloane, Dick Powell
Sound Effects, Monty Fraser
Announcers, Jimmy Wallington for Pabst, Ken Carpenter for P&G, Ken Niles
Music, The Lou Kosloff Orchestra
Sponsors, American Meat Institute, Proctor & Gamble for Teel, Prell, Pabst Beer

Riley Plans To Build 01-16-44
Riley's Birthday 04-02-44
Riley Fixes Dinner on Mother's Day 05-14-44
The Stamp 06-11-44
Babs Entertains 10-01-44
Big Football Bet 11-12-44
Junior Runs Away 03-11-45
Riley's Mother-In-Law Visits 05-13-45
Layoffs 09-08-45
Change of Time 09-29-45
Riley Refuses to Let Babs See Simon 10-06-45
B.P.L.A. elections 12-01-45
Mother's Day 05-11-46
Riley and Jr. play hookie 05-18-46
Riley family of actors 06-01-46
Bread shortage 06-08-46
Job in South America 10-26-46
Boy Scout Camp 11-09-46
Music brings them together 11-16-46
Efficiency expert 01-11-47
Riley?s honeymoon 01-25-47
Riley the milkman 03-22-47
Riley the gentleman 03-29-47
Riley the boxer 04-19-47
Simon the waiter 04-26-47
Launching Babs into society 05-03-47
Mother?s Day show 05-10-47
The insurance policy 05-31-47
A week at the lake 06-28-47
Babs? date 09-13-47
Christmas in store window 12-20-47
Episode title unknown 01-17-48
Riley is unhappy when his family ties up the telephone line. Later, the radio show Truth or Consequences with Ralph Edwards is on and Riley listens to it. This was one of two crossover programs this day. (Bendix appears as Riley in Truth or Consequences, the second one. He's angry with Ralph Edwards.)
Riley Sends Peg a Comic Valentine 02-14-48
Hawkins story 03-06-48
Quiet evening by the fireside 01-28-49
Riley talks in his sleep about Gertrude 02-04-49
Babs elopes with Simon 02-11-49
Valentine locket from Monahan signed by Riley 02-18-49
The premiere of The Life of Riley movie 03-04-49
The wire recorder 03-11-49
Babs' college election 03-25-49
Junior's homework 04-01-49
Chinese Bowl 04-22-49
Riley is fired 04-29-49
Babs leaves home 05-06-49
Gitchigoomi 05-13-49
Junior drops out of school 05-20-49
Junior and Egbert go camping 05-27-49
The Geiger counter 10-14-49
The policeman boarder 10-21-49
Television set on ten-day trial 10-28-49
The expectant father 11-04-49
Cissie and Lionel 01-20-50
Junior is in Love 01-27-50
Babs Flunks an Exam 02-03-50
Poison Candy 02-10-50
Peg the Waitress 02-17-50
Riley's Step Out 02-24-50
Riley Has a Rent Controversy 03-10-50
Babs is Allergic to Riley 03-17-50
Cissie's Marriage 03-24-50
Chivalry is Dead 03-31-50
South Pacific 06-02-50
The Spicy Book 06-09-50
Father's Day 06-16-50
The Cake Contest 10-27-50
Babs Elopement 11-03-50
Count the Beans 11-10-50
Time Clock Woes 03-16-51 Life of Riley

The Internet Archive: The Life Of Riley 1944-1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950-1951

Life of Riley [Audio CD] Irving Brecher (Creator)

Life of Riley radio shows

Life of Riley radio shows Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio

Radio of Yesteryear, Original Old Radio Presents Life Of Riley

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Life of Riley Radio Show last updated 3/16/12