Friday, July 2, 2010


My blogging buddy Ivan of "Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear" (see the link to the left, true believers!) wrote about Larry Keating, who played Harry Morton on George Burns' sitcoms:
"Television is where Keating really made his mark; he was tabbed by George Burns in 1953 to play the part of the Burns’ next-door neighbor Harry Morton (after Hal March, John Brown and Fred Clark had all taken a whack at it) on 'The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show', and Larry’s playing up of Harry’s oversized ego (with vocabulary to match) was the perfect counterpoint to wife Blanche’s (Bea Benaderet) withering sarcasm. (Keating also played Morton on 'The George Burns Show', a short-lived sitcom that followed Burns and Allen’s departure after eight seasons on CBS.)"

That's an awful lot of people to play that one role, something that's more likely in soap operas. Had it been only one man, maybe plastic surgery could have been the reason; or maybe Blanche married two different men by the same name, as Farmer Ziffel did with his two wives on 'Green Acres'. (At least that's my splainin for the two Mrs. Ziffels.)
According to the IMDb, here's the timeline for the actors who played the role:

Hal March ... Harry Morton (1950-1953)

John Brown ... Harry Morton (1951)

Fred Clark ... Harry Morton (1951-1953)

Larry Keating ... Harry Morton (1953-1958)

We're going to turn to 'Quantum Leap' for the splainin.
At some point in the future, the "Quantum Leap" project developed by Dr. Sam Beckett will finally be considered a success and available for general use. And it wouldn't have to be used only for scientific research. Like the Russians with the shuttle and Eve Thorne's plans for the commercialization of Global Dynamics in the town of 'Eureka', the governing board of the Quantum Leap facility may have decided to sell "trips" into the past via the accelerator. This would maintain the funding on the project without resorting to government handouts.

This enterprise would probably be one of the major reasons for a 'Timecop' policing agency.

I can imagine the first three men in the list of those who played Harry Morton to be multi-millionaires, able to pay the high price for the trip of a lifetime. But why would they have chosen to replace Harry Morton in the timeline?

Simple... it gave them the chance to indulge in their passion: being fans of vaudeville, "Old Time Radio" and the movies, they paid a fortune just for the chance to meet an idol, George Burns. They were able to play card games with George and Gracie, attend weddings held at the Burns home, and even enjoy the domestic life with Harry's wife Blanche (not that the 1950's audience in the Trueniverse would ever see what that fully entailed!)

The rich man played by John Brown only made one appearance on the show however, most likely because his trip was cut short. Those responsible were probably the Timecops or the Time Squad or some other Time Agent (like Captain Jack Harkness). Apparently the innate greed of that Harry Morton doppelganger got the better of him when Harry's wife Blanche mentioned that her life insurance was now increased to $20,000. Temporal protectors don't allow such threats to wreak havoc on the timeline.
Larry Keating would be the true Harry Morton, not seen by the Trueniverse audience until those three millionaires (maybe even billionaires!) had played out their fantasies. There weren't any others willing to make that particular time leap - as great as George and Gracie were, there's only so much interest to be found for them among multi-millionaires.

And so from that point on, once the "true" Harry Morton was returned from the waiting room in
the future, it was only Larry Keating's televersion that was seen in Toobworld. This would lead into the sequel (after Gracie retired), as well as into a crossover with 'Love That Bob!' (which also featured George, Gracie, and Harry's wife Blanche.)

That crossover, by the way, puts Harry and Blanche into the running for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. Perhaps for next June as a Gemini entry (unless the 'Softly, Softly' team finally gets their due.)


Thanks for the inspiration, Ivan!


Ray O'Moonshine said...

And Larry Keating was also Wilbur's next door neighbor on Mr. Ed

Toby O'B said...

Sadly, that's where I had to get most of my Larry Keating pictures for this article...

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Ivan!

Brother O' are truly a remarkable individual...and one with a great deal of time on his hands. :-)

What's so serendipitous about your post is that I just recently returned from a trip to Commerce, GA where I stopped by a used book store and found a tome on Mister Ed dirt cheap. So that's what is currently on the nightstand right now.

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