Joe and Mabel was a CBS network sitcom series written by Irving Gaynor Nieman.
The radio version of the series originally aired on NBC from February 13, 1941 to September 27, 1942; the TV version aired on CBS from June 26 to September 25, 1956.
The series centered on city cab driver Joe Sparton, who has plans to marry his girlfriend, Mabel Spooner; however, Mabel and her mother come up with schemes to trick Joe into getting married soon.
- Larry Blyden as Joe Sparton
- Nita Talbot as Mabel Spooner
- Luella Gear as Mrs. Spooner
- Michael Mann as Sherman Spooner
- Shirl Conway as Dolly
- Norman Fell as Mike
- John Shellie as Harry
"Joe and Mable" originally premiered on the NBC radio network on February 13, 1941. The show would later move to Sunday afternoons by March of 1941, and later on Sunday evenings. The show last broadcast on September 27, 1942.
In May of 1955, it was announced that CBS had plans to introduce a TV version of "Joe and Mabel" as part of its 1955-56 schedule.
According to The New York Times, Paul Bogart would produce the series, which would begin filming at the Bedford Park Film Studio in New York City during the summer of 1955. The show would star Larry Blyden and Nita Talbot in the roles of Joe Sparton and Mabel Spooner.
However, the show's production was delayed due to the Screen Actors Guild going on strike, causing 43 film TV programs (including "Joe and Mabel") to shut down production.
On August 8, 1955, it was reported by the New York Times that "Joe and Mabel" would premiere on September 20, 1955 at 9:00 PM and the Screen Actors Guild strike ended on August 15th.
In late August of that same year, CBS previewed "Joe and Mabel" for critics over closed-circuit TV. However, on September 19, 1955 (the day before the show was supposed to premiere), CBS announced that "Joe and Mabel" “has been postponed indefinitely” due to “an insufficient backlog of the half-hour films."
In early October of 1955, Alex Gottlieb took over as producer on the show, replacing Paul Bogart.
In order to “allow a new approach to the story,” any already completed episodes of the series were thrown out when production began in early November with an eye towards a debut in January.
In late January, Jackie Gleason called a press conference to berate CBS for considering changes to its Saturday evening line-up. Gleason had a vested interest in Saturday on CBS with "The Honeymooners" and a variety show, "Stage Show" were broadcast on those days.
According to Gleason, CBS wanted to either move Stage Show from 8:30PM to 9:00PM or replace it with "Joe and Mabel", saying: “They have a product, ‘Joe and Mabel,’ that they think to be very hot and they want to get it on. […] If that is their intention and if the irritation originates at C.B.S. they’re making a sad mistake because that’s not going to happen."
Reportedly, CBS also wanted to move "The Honeymooners" from 8:30PM to 8:00PM on Saturdays and "Two for the Money" from 9:00PM to 8:30PM.
Gleason was adamant that "Stage Show" be placed just before or just after "The Honeymooners". CBS could (if it desired) pay out between $350,000 and $400,000 in accordance with Stage Show‘s contract."
The reason CBS wanted to shuffle its Saturday schedule was simple: ratings. Stage Show and The Honeymooners were being handily beaten by NBC’s The Perry Como Show, which aired from 8-9PM.
By moving "The Honeymooners" to 8:00PM (which cancelled "Stage Show" & added "Joe and Mabel"), the network felt it could better compete with NBC, but "Stage Show"‘s sponsor, the Nestle Company, didn’t want to end the show and take on Joe and Mabel.
Nestle was willing to swap time slots, but CBS was contractually bound to the P. Lorillard Company to follow "The Honeymooners" with "Two for the Money".
After several weeks, the P. Lorillard Company agreed to switching "The Honeymooners" with "Stage Show" while leaving "Two for the Money" at 9:00 PM, but "Joe and Mabel" was lost in the shuffle. Despite that, CBS was behind for the series.
On February 3rd, while the conflict between CBS and Jackie Gleason was still underway, The Los Angeles Times ran an article about the show.
According to the article, CBS pulled "Joe and Mabel" from its 1955-1956 schedule because it "just wasn’t very entertaining” and “had gotten off on the wrong foot."
The six finished episodes of the show were “scrapped” and Alex Gottlieb brought in; Gottlieb was originally set to work on "Meet Millie," but CBS instead asked him to help restart "Joe and Mabel."
According to Gottlieb about Larry Blyden and Nina Talbet, “They have the personalities and the sense of comedy playing to make them stars."
By February of 1956, ten episodes of the new version of "Joe and Mabel" were completed.
In early March of 1956, CBS began searching for a program to replace "The Johnny Carson Show" (which aired on Thursdays from 10:00 to 10:30 PM); the show's sponsor was dropping it at the end, and "Joe and Mabel" was considered as a possible replacement.
However, in mid-March of 1956, CBS announced that "The Arthur Murray Party" would replace "The Johnny Carson Show."
In late April of 1956, "Joe and Mabel" was finally given a time slot and a sponsor with Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; it would premiere on June 19, 1956 (taking over for "The Guy Lombardo Diamond Jubilee") on Tuesdays at 9:00 PM. However, it premiered the following week on June 26, 1956.
All 13 episodes of "Joe and Mabel" were broadcast on CBS during the summer of 1956, with the final episode airing on September 25, 1956.