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Life_Of_Riley_441210_Rileys_Mash_Note_At_Night_School

Life_Of_Riley_441210_Rileys_Mash_Note_At_Night_School
Mar 6, 2022 · 29m 24s

Known for its tag line "What a revoltin’ development this is", The Life of Riley, starring William Bendix, first aired in January of 1944. The show was originally conceived as...

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Known for its tag line "What a revoltin’ development this is", The Life of Riley, starring William Bendix, first aired in January of 1944. The show was originally conceived as a vehicle for Groucho Marx, but it was reworked and recast with the assistance of co-developer Milton "Gummo" Marx, the non-performing Marx brother. It eventually emerged as a situation comedy about the life and struggles of blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth Chester A. Riley. Riley, a husband, father, and riveter at a California aircraft plant brought comedy to the common man’s struggle to make ends meet and finesse the challenges of everyday life. Riley invariably addressed a problem or pursued a scheme with a "full steam ahead" attitude that inflated even the most innocuous situation into a full-blown disaster.

The ironic title, suggesting a life of ease and comfort, probably had its origins in the 19th century. Some suggest the phrase "the life of Riley" referred to the 19th century clan Riley of County Cavan in Ireland, who consolidated power and wealth to such an extent that they minted their own money. Others claim the phrase is a reference to Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley. Whatever the origin, "the life of Riley" became a catch phrase in the popular culture of the 1940s that has lasted to the present day, and is tied irrevocably to the character of Chester A. Riley.

In addition to Bendix’ Riley, the show featured immensely popular supporting characters, including Digby "Digger" O’Dell, the ghoulish "friendly undertaker" voiced by John Brown (who also played Thorny on Ozzie and Harriet, Al on My Friend Irma, and Broadway on The Damon Runyan Theatre). Riley’s annoying co-worker, Gillis, was also voiced by Brown. Uncle Baxter, Riley’s unwelcome permanent houseguest, was played by Hans Conreid.
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