Willard Waterman

Willard Waterman

Show Count: 223
Series Count: 6
Role: Old Time Radio Star
Born: August 29, 1914
Old Time Radio, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Died: February 2, 1995, Burlingame, California


Willard Lewis Waterman (August 29, 1914, Madison, Wisconsin – February 2, 1995, Burlingame, California) was a character actor in films, TV and on radio, remembered best for succeeding Harold Peary as the title character of The Great Gildersleeve at the height of that show's popularity.


Peary was unable to convince sponsor and show owner Kraft Cheese to allow him an ownership stake in the show. Impressed with better capital-gains deals CBS was willing to offer performers in the high-tax late 1940s, he decided to move from NBC to CBS during the latter's famous talent raids. Kraft, however, refused to move the show to CBS and hired Waterman to replace Peary as the stentorian Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve.

Waterman attended the University of Wisconsin in the mid-1930s, where he acted in student plays and was a friend of Uta Hagen. He also began his radio career in Madison, and came to NBC in Chicago in early 1936. There he met and replaced Peary on The Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters. Not only did the two men become longtime friends, but Waterman – who actually looked as though he could have been Peary's sibling, and whose voice was a near-match for Peary's — refused to appropriate the half-leering, half-embarrassed laugh Peary had made a Gildersleeve trademark. He stayed with The Great Gildersleeve from 1950 to 1957 on radio and in an ill-fated television version syndicated in 1955.

During World War II, Waterman worked in war production in the Nash-Kelvinator plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and resided at 405 65th Street.

At the same time he was heard as Gildersleeve, Waterman had a recurring role as Mr. Merriweather in the short-lived but respected radio comedy vehicle for Ronald Colman and his wife Benita Hume, The Halls of Ivy. Waterman's pre-Gildersleeve radio career, in addition to Tom Mix, had included at least one starring vehicle, a short-lived situation comedy, Those Websters, that premiered in 1945. He also had radio roles between the mid-1930s and 1950 on such shows as Chicago Theater of the Air (variety) and Harold Teen (comedy), plus four soap operas: Girl Alone,The Guiding Light, Lonely Women, The Road of Life and Kay Fairchild, Stepmother. He is also remembered for his role as Claude Upson in the 1958 film Auntie Mame.

In 1964 he toured with a road production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying in the role of Jasper B. Biggley with Dick Kallman in the lead as J. Pierpont Finch.


Waterman's later career included a variety of film and TV supporting roles on such shows as Vacation Playhouse, Lawman, My Favorite Martian, The Eve Arden Show (four episodes from 1957-1958 as Carl Foster), 77 Sunset Strip, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Guestward Ho!, F Troop, and Dennis the Menace, in which he played the lovable grocer, Mr. Quigley. Between 1957 and 1959, he appeared five times as Mac Maginnis in the ABC sitcom, The Real McCoys, starring Walter Brennan.

Waterman was all but retired from acting after 1973, though in 1980 he appeared in the "Boss and Peterson" radio commercial for Sony, for which he received a Clio Award.

In 1937, Waterman was a founding member of the radio union now known as the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.


Waterman died on February 2, 1995 and is interred at Skylawn Memorial Park in San Mateo, California.

Source: Wikipedia

Damon Runyon Theater, TheDamon Runyon Theater, The
Show Count: 52
Broadcast History: 1948 to the mid 1950s
Cast: John Brown, Anne Whitfield, Gerald Mohr, William Conrad, Alan Reed, Herb Vigran, Frank Lovejoy, Sheldon Leonard, Eddie Marr, Luis Van Rooten, Joe DuVal, Willard Waterman, Ed Begley, Jeff Chandler, Sam Edwards, Hans Conried, Parley Baer
Director: Richard Sanville
Producer: Vern Carstensen
Starring John Brown as Broadway, the narrator of Damon Runyon’s dramatic stories of old Manhattan New York and the gangster life in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The stories could be tragic, and often quite sad as you become moved by the strength of the characters.
Halls Of Ivy, TheHalls Of Ivy, The
Show Count: 84
Broadcast History: 6 June 1950 to 6 January 1952
Cast: Arthur Q. Bryan, Willard Waterman, Ronald Colman, Benita Hume Colman, Alan Reed, Herb Butterfield, Elizabeth Patterson, Gloria Gordon, Jerry Hausner, Paula Winslowe, Raymond Lawrence, Sheldon Leonard, Herb Vigran, Ken Christy, Jean Vander Pyl, Jeffrey Silver, Johnny McGovern, Charles Seel, Bob Seeney, Virginia Gregg, Rolfe Sedan
Director: Nat Wolff
Producer: Don Quinn, Nat Wolff
A situation comedy show, which follows the daily trials and tribulations of a college president in a small American College. It ran for two seasons from 1950 to 1952 and was aired at 8pm initially on Fridays and then on a Wednesday evening for the second season.
Broadcast: 29th October 1947
Added: Aug 31 2009
Broadcast: 16th October 1949
Added: Aug 31 2008
Broadcast: 14th May 1950
Added: May 16 2010
Broadcast: 31st July 1949
Added: Jul 31 2010
Broadcast: 2nd June 1947
Added: Jun 07 2009
Broadcast: April 22, 1949
Added: Apr 20 2021
Broadcast: 5th March 1950
Added: Sep 06 2010
Broadcast: 23rd June 1947
Added: Jun 29 2009
Broadcast: 15th May 1949
Added: May 19 2008
Broadcast: May 3, 1944
Added: Oct 03 2006
Broadcast: 19th May 1948
Added: Aug 10 2009
Broadcast: 6th November 1949
Added: Oct 26 2009
Broadcast: 11th August 1949
Added: Dec 18 2008
Broadcast: 24th October 1948
Added: Feb 11 2007
Broadcast: 17th April 1949
Added: Mar 16 2008
Broadcast: November 19, 1950
Added: Nov 25 2010
Broadcast: 25th August 1948
Added: Jan 28 2007