The one and only biography of the great child and voice actor, Walter Tetley, star of The Great Gildersleeve, The Phil Harris/Alice Faye Show, and many more radio shows. Today's audience probably knows him mostly as the voice of Sherman, Mr. Peabody's pet boy, in Rocky and Bullwinkle's Peabody and Sherman.
Written by Ben Ohmart directly from information in Tetley's own personal scrapbooks, this book contains information, pictures and radio credits you'll never find elsewhere!
Very well done, and fascinating.
- Jim Harmon, OTR author
- Thanks, Jim Donahue
Walter Tetley (1915-75), as talented and as funny as he was, has always been an enigma. Precious little has been written about him, let alone a book, because he was an intensely private person. His forte was radio (The Great Gildersleeve, The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show) and cartoons (Andy Panda, Peabody's Improbably History from the Rocky and His Friends show), but he made numerous movie appearances from 1938 to 1946. No one hearing his distinctive voice has ever forgotten it--it was one-of-a-kind, as was he.
Now, with the aid of Tetley's own personal scrapbooks(containing rare photos, clippings and letters), saved through the years by CI writer Charles Stumpf, comes Watler Tetley: For Corn's Sake by Ben Ohmart.
Pictorially, the book is a gem--the rare photos capturing Tetley in candid, vaudeville, radio and movie situations are indeed a treasure, and the layout is stylish. Considering the nature of Walter's personality, the authors, with little to go on except the items saved by the man himself, do a more than competent job. The writing is clean, crisp, to the point, and when the story shifts to tragedy, the text defly deals poignantly with the problems. I had no idea that Walter's life included such trials, starting with a glandular problem that hindered his growth; it was corrected, and he grew, but more problems lay ahead. His final years and days were heartbreaking. But what struck me most was that, for all his problems, he wasn't a bitter man. He did charity work, worked with children, and did a clown act. Gary Coleman should take a tip from the life of the courageous Tetley.
The authors enjoy Walter Tetley's work. Being a fan myself of Tetley, especially from the Harris-Faye Show, where he was the ultimate brat, I was pleased with the treatment afforded him.
So little has been written, and when a book does come along and attempts to tell the whole story, while also giving us a fine appreciation of his work, well, I'm happy. Includes an incredible list of credits, most taken from Tetley's personal notebook, covering radio, film and TV work.
Radiogram/Rodney Bowcock, Jr.
It may seem unfair, but most people don't have any idea who Walter Tetley was, or what incredible talent he had. While his amazing performances on The Great Gildersleeve, The Phil Harris/Alice Faye Show, and Rocky and His Friends (AKA The Bullwinkle Show) live on, very little is known about the behind-the-scenes life of this distinguished performer. Even during the peak of his career, he was a very private person and granted few interviews.
Because of this lack of information, it would be difficult for even the most devoted fan to put together a time line of the life of Walter Tetley. Even those who worked with him simply didn't know him that well when they saw him on a near daily basis. Because of this it's a remarkable feat that Ben Ohmart and Charles Stumpf have put together this book.
While working on his book Heavenly Days (the definitive work on Fibber McGee and Molly), Charles Stumpf acquired the contacts that provided him with scrapbooks and records that were kept by Tetley and his parents. Without these records, this book would never have been possible. Still the authors met dead end after dead end. Few who worked with Walter are still with us, and while those who are had nothing but favorable things to say about him, nobody really knew any details.
Despite the obvious unavoidable holes, this is an invaluable reference work and a very entertaining read for fans of Tetley's work or those who enjoy old-time radio in general. Every attempt is made to make this work as complete as possible. An amazingly extensive list of credit is included through 1938 (records that were actually kept by Walter's father), and a near complete list of credits including film roles is included for the following years.
From the earliest days of his career, to his final days when Hollywood cast him by the wayside due to his appearance-altering medical condition, For Corn's Sake covers as many of this talent man's triumphs and tragedies as possible. Tetley was, for all accounts, a kind man who preferred to spend his time and money working with handicapped kids instead of giving interviews. It is a true shame that a kind and generous soul was to die alone, possibly living in a small trailer near the beach. Attempts were made to contact the executive of his estate, but again another dead end was reached.
One can't imagine the frustration that one would experience when they take on a project such as this one. That we are able to read as much about Tetley's life as this book provides is a real accomplishment and fills a major gap in the history of old-time radio. Ben Ohmart and Charles Stumpf are to be praised for the hard work and effort that they put into compiling this book. It is an ultimately sad story to be sure, but it is also a story to be treasured.
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