Top of the pops in radio situation comedy for more than a decade through the forties and into the fifties and all built around a character who never made even one appearance on the show. The deception built around the owner of Duffy’s Tavern was so convincing that for over ten years from its start in 1941 anybody would tell you that Duffy lived at the tavern which was located in downtown Manhattan on Third Avenue at 29th Street and that he owned this well known eating establishment which catered to the Irish working population resident in that area. Yet, no one ever saw him and no one heard his voice. Oh many people would tell you that he spoke to Archie, (who was the manager at Duffy’s Tavern) in every show. But, you only ever heard Archie’s voice at this end of the telephone, talking to a never present Duffy.
Duffy’s Tavern was the brainchild of Ed Gardner, born Eddie Poggenburg, Long Island 1905 who later in life, 1929 to be exact, married a young lady he met at a party, name of Shirley Booth. It wasn’t until much later in their married life that Gardner was to hit on the idea that was to bring him fame and fortune.
His wife Shirley became a successful theater personality whilst he himself tried his hand at various aspects of theater and radio work and it was whilst he was directing a little known radio show for CBS that his luck changed.
The show was called "This is New York" and they were auditioning actors with a certain kind of New York accent, essential to the success of the show. Unfortunately, none of them seemed to know exactly what Gardner wanted so in desperation he stepped before the microphone and read the lines out himself and it was then that he realised that this was Archie, this special character which he would soon turn into the star of a new radio show.
Duffy was about to be born, but the man who would make him the talk of the airways was Archie who would soon be played by his creator, Ed Gardner.
When the show was broadcast for the first time on March 1st 1941 it was courtesy of CBS and Schick Razors and the people at the forefront of this little bit of Irish humor, were Ed Gardner as Archie and his wife Shirley Booth who played the daughter of the never to be seen Duffy.
The show was a great success and the people involved in it far too numerous to mention. Over it’s lifespan it evolved into what can only be described as a cult radio show and even when they tried to drop the tavern from it’s name and call it just Duffy. Most people carried on calling it "Duffy’s Tavern" because the show was what it was and no matter who the network people were or who were the sponsors it still remained that homely little place with the lousy food and the even lousier service that it first started out to be. As soon as that theme tune came floating over the airwaves "When Irish eyes are Smiling" and the telephone started to ring you just knew that Duffy was about to launch into Archie, but you never heard him do it.