Mister Peepers

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents




From Wikipedia:

Mr. Peepers is an American television sitcom that aired on NBC from July 3, 1952 to June 12, 1955.

Mr. Peepers starred Wally Cox as Jefferson City's junior high school science teacher Robinson J. Peepers. Others in the cast included Tony Randall as history teacher Harvey Weskit; Georgann Johnson as Harvey's wife, Marge; Patricia Benoit as school nurse Nancy Remington, later married to Peepers; Marion Lorne as often confused English teacher Mrs. Gurney; Jack Warden as athletic coach Frank Whip and Ernest Truex and Sylvia Field as Nancy's parents.

The series was an early situation comedy that featured some physical humor as well as humorous situations. In one show, Peepers is playing basketball by himself and somehow gets stuck in the basket. There is no one available to help him out of the basket. This dilemma means that he is unable to serve as speaker at Mrs. Gurney's flower club that evening as promised, nor at a chess match that Mr. Gurney wants him to participate in. Peepers' solution is to have both the chess match and the flower club meeting take place in the gymnasium, where he talks about potting soil to the ladies and wins the chess game against another high school's champion from his perch in the basket.

Running jokes tended to involve Peepers coping with misbehaving inanimate objects and with acutely embarrassing moments. In a typical moment, Peepers sees a hopscotch grid chalked on a sidewalk and, thinking himself alone, plays the game with abandon, only to discover that his girlfriend Nancy has been silently watching the entire time.

The actors in the series lent appeal to the show. The dithering principal's wife, Mrs. Gurney, played by the incomparable Marion Lorne, is kind and gracious but absentminded. In one episode, Peepers injures his finger with a hammer, and Mrs. Gurney solicitously bandages up his finger to at least five times its actual size. When she leaves the room, he points out to Nancy that she has actually bandaged the wrong finger. Tony Randall's role as Harvey Weskit is that of the handsome ladies' man who befriends Peepers. The confident and popular Weskit is a foil to the timid, bespectacled Peepers, and their friendship is incongruous. In one episode, Weskit points out a packet of unopened love letters that women have sent him, complaining that he is always getting them. He begins to look inside Peepers' locker to see the stack of similar letters he expects to find there, and Peepers quickly closes the locker door, commenting that he has to keep the door closed so that they won't all fall out. Patricia Benoit as Nancy Remington is Peepers' "love at first sight," although she seems unaware of his attraction to her at first. Peepers' bumbling attempts to approach her add charm and humor to the plot and leave the viewer waiting for their next encounter to see whether any progress will occur with their relationship. The episode in which Peepers married Nancy was, for 1954, a blockbuster ratings event, but it also marked the beginning of the series' slide in popularity.

Mr. Peepers was aired live, on stage before an audience at the Century Theater, 932 7th Avenue, New York City--preserved in the form of 16 mm kinescopes.

Wally Cox was somewhat typecast by the role of the mild-mannered Peepers, but continued on to a long career in movies and television. He later starred in a comedy/adventure series, The Adventures of Hiram Holliday, and is remembered as the voice of the cartoon superhero Underdog. He also wrote and published a novel, Mr. Peepers (1955), based on scripts from the televised adventures of the character.

Who talked about this show

Robert E. Costello

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Bob Costello on working as a property manager on Mr. Peepers
Bob Costello on working in production on Mr. Peepers

Everett Greenbaum

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Everett Greenbaum on how he came to write for Mr. Peepers
Everett Greenbaum on the format of Mr. Peepers
Everett Greenbaum on writing for Mr. Peepers
Everett Greenbaum on the process of writing Mr. Peepers

Jack Klugman

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Jack Klugman on Mr. Peepers

Tony Randall

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Tony Randall on being cast on Mr. Peepers and working with Fred Coe and Wally Cox
Tony Randall on a typical workweek on Mister Peepers
Tony Randall on Mister Peepers writer Jim Fritzell
Tony Randall on learning to do comedy on Mister Peepers
Tony Randall on the end of Mister Peepers and on appearing on several classic anthology series

David Shaw

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David Shaw on writing for Mr. Peepers

James Sheldon

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James Sheldon on being hired to direct the pilot of Mister Peepers by producer Fred Coe
James Sheldon on casting Tony Randall as "Harvey Weskit" on Mister Peepers
James Sheldon on Marion Lorne as "Mrs. Gurney" on Mister Peepers
James Sheldon on directing Mister Peepers and Wally Cox's humor on the show

Helen Wagner

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Helen Wagner on appearing in Reynolds Wrap commercials on Mr. Peepers

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