Historical records matching John B. Guedel
About John B. Guedel
Wikipedia Biographical Summary:
"...John Guedel, (October 9, 1913 in Portland, Indiana – December 14, 2001 in Los Angeles, California) was a radio and television producer who co-created and produced Art Linkletter's and Groucho Marx's most important and successful broadcast properties, including You Bet Your Life and People Are Funny. He also created The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and is sometimes credited with the first singing radio commercial in 1937. He was a producer for The Charlotte Greenwood Show on radio.
Earlier in his career, he wrote for Hal Roach Studios, including work on the Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang series.
In 1957-1959 he was married to actress Helen Parrish..."
"...John Guedel, a radio producer whose shrewd sense of public taste -- and not a little silliness -- enabled him to act as a midwife at television's birth and then as one of the new medium's most prominent nannies, died on Dec. 14 in Los Angeles. He was 88.
Mr. Guedel produced shows like Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life and Art Linkletter's People Are Funny, among many others, for radio and television. In 1956 TV Guide reported that he was producing 25 half-hour radio and television shows at the same time.
He dreamed up the duck that dropped to deliver two $50 bills when a contestant on You Bet Your Life said the secret word. He gave birth to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet when he persuaded the bandleader Ozzie Nelson and the singer Harriet Hilliard to try situation comedy. He gave Johnny Carson his first starring role on the summer replacement game show Earn Your Vacation.
His broadcasting achievements are said to include radio's first singing commercial in 1937, or at least the first one that went beyond a jingle like Jack Benny's famous J-E-L-L-O. He was also the first to present colorful characters as quiz show contestants, and the first who regularly involved the studio audience in game shows.
He was a pioneer at television's strong suit: giving the broadest possible audiences what they wanted before they knew they wanted it. Even before television, this was a sufficiently controversial contribution to prompt a 1948 article in The New York Times to note that some radio listeners might like to stick pins in a Guedel effigy, while also observing that millions find this zany entertainment amusing.
Mr. Guedel agreed that television had difficulty transcending the formulas he helped invent, not least because they were so quickly accepted. So far as TV is concerned, the public is getting exactly what it deserves, he said in a 1960 interview in TV Guide. There can be no such thing as a giant step in TV. Steps forward must be taken in inches.
Mr. Guedel was born on Oct. 9, 1913, in Portland, Ind. His father was ruined financially after a tornado destroyed his factory, which made dashboards for the Ford Motor Company. The family moved to California when he was 8; his father became active in real estate, and young John became student body president at Beverly Hills High School.
In 1931 he began attending the University of California at Los Angeles, but he left the next year after the family's savings evaporated as a result of the stock market crash. He worked for a shovel gang in a federal public works program and sold things door to door, including toothbrushes. He slept in a sleeping bag in cemeteries.
Mr. Guedel came up with the idea of writing a few words of advice and encouragement to anyone who appeared in the papers. President Franklin D. Roosevelt responded. He also began sending off short stories to magazines, and received 116 rejection slips.
These were followed by a long stream of successes -- two, he told TV Guide. I sold a joke for $5 and a story for $15, he said. I was in.
As a professional writer, Mr. Guedel reasoned that he should be writing movies, since his toothbrush route took him past several big studios. This resulted in 12 more rejection slips, there being 12 studios at the time.
One morning after sleeping on the beach, he spotted Hal Roach Jr. at an exclusive beach club across a fence. This studio magnate leaned over the fence and gave him a job writing Laurel and Hardy comedies and Our Gang shorts.
Mr. Guedel had begun writing dialogue for a cartoonist. A syndicate liked the lines better than the drawings and talked Mr. Guedel into going to Cleveland to write a syndicated column. He soon quit to return to Hal Roach Studios, which fired and hired him six times in the next two years.
He continued to write short stories, once estimating that one of every 32 was accepted. One day when he was at the post office to collect his rejection slips, a friend suggested that he see the radio director of a small ad agency. Just 24 hours later Mr. Guedel had sold the advertising man on the idea of an hourlong joke show.
He then did a variety of radio work, including writing weekly dramas for a show sponsored by Forest Lawn Memorial Park, a cemetery. While researching President James A. Garfield at the public library for an episode of the show, he pulled down a nearby book on games.
He immediately made the second half of a quiz show he had been hired to produce into a game show called Pull Over, Neighbor. The first stunt on the show was shoving ice cubes in a contestant's mouth as he sang Smiles.
In 1942 the show became People Are Funny, and Mr. Linkletter became master of ceremonies. It ran for 19 years on NBC, moving from radio to television in 1954.
In 1945 Mr. Guedel helped transform an afternoon variety show Mr. Linkletter had been doing in San Francisco into House Party, which ran for 25 years on CBS, moving to television in 1952.
On April 27, 1947, Mr. Guedel was producing a show sponsored by the Walgreen drugstore chain. Bob Hope and Groucho Marx were supposed to read a script, but Marx started ad-libbing, and Mr. Hope threw his script on the floor and joined in.
Mr. Guedel later asked Marx if he could be so spontaneously witty all the time. Marx responded that it would be almost impossible not to be. This resulted in You Bet Your Life, in which quiz questions were secondary to Marx's verbal jousting.
An example: When a contestant said she was from South Wales, Marx shot back: Did you ever meet Jonah? He lived in whales for a while.
Mr. Guedel was divorced from his first wife, the former Beth Pingree; his second wife, the actress Helen Parrish, died. He is survived by his wife, the former Valerie McDonald; a son, John K. Guedel of Moorpark, Calif.; a daughter, Heidi Garafalo of Ocala, Fla.; a granddaughter; and a great-grandson.
Mr. Guedel had a self-deprecating sense of humor, once volunteering the information that he had three toupees reflecting three stages of needing a haircut to keep himself looking natural. Every employee in his production company, including his father and himself, had the title of vice president.
Mr. Guedel kept a bank account under the name Santa Claus. Whenever he heard of someone in show business who was in need, Santa sent a check..."