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Archive Television Treasures: Mister Peepers—Two Rare Episodes

Mister Peepers
September 30, 2020 - 4:00 pm

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Made possible by the John H. Mitchell Television Programming Endowment

Archive Television Treasures: Mister Peepers—Two Rare Episodes

Created by writer-director David Swift (screenwriter and director of the feature film version of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and produced by Fred Coe (impresario of the Goodyear/Philco Television Playhouse), the innovative sitcom Mister Peepers (1952-55) represents one of the most enduringly charming programs from the Golden Age of Television. Presented live from the Century Theatre in New York, the Emmy-nominated series starred off-beat, one-of-a-kind comedian Wally Cox (later of Hollywood Squares fame) as Robinson J. Peepers, a mild-mannered junior high science teacher with a heart of gold. Featuring a superb supporting cast of endearing and eccentric characters, including Tony Randall (The Odd Couple), Marion Lorne (Bewitched), and Jack Warden (Shampoo), the series derived its unique humor and tone from gentle scenarios and sterling performances. The beloved program received a prestigious Peabody Award in 1952, with the following citation lauding Cox’s work on the show: “Mister Peepers has brought genuine pleasure to millions of viewers. Mr. Cox achieves his comic effects, not through bombast and commotion, but quietly and subtly. He is a genuinely funny man. His comedy springs from within himself, and it is infectious.”

Join the Archive for a free virtual screening of two rare episodes of Mister Peepers that are not available on home video and feature special guest stars Mae Barnes, Pat Hingle, George Maharis and more. With original commercials. Program curated and notes written by Mark Quigley, John H. Mitchell Television Archivist.

Television icon Peter Marshall, host of The Hollywood Squares from 1966 to 1981, will join Mark Quigley, John H. Mitchell Television Archivist, for a post-screening conversation about Wally Cox’s life and career.

Mister Peepers: “Teaching by TV”  (NBC, 2/28/1954)

With parallels to education in 2020 under the pandemic, science teacher Robinson J. Peepers (Wally Cox) and his fellow faculty of Jefferson Junior High are forced to offer their course lectures via television—with hilarious results. This live broadcast includes an integrated filmed insert featuring President Eisenhower in an appeal for the Red Cross.

b/w, 30 min. Creator: David Swift. Producer/director: Hal Keith. Writer: Jim Fritzell, Everett Greenbaum. Cast: Wally Cox, Marion Lorne, Tony Randall, Jack Warden.

Mister Peepers: “The Wally Cox Show”  (NBC, 6/5/1955)

In this special episode, the sitcom departs from its regular format to tell the true story of how Wally Cox got his start in show business. The comedy parodies Cox’s lean early days living in a Greenwich Village basement—along with roommate and life-long friend Marlon Brando (caricatured uproariously by George Maharis of Route 66). The episode also features a lively performance by noted African American jazz singer and dancer, Mae Barnes. Keep an eye open for prolific character actor Pat Hingle as Mister Peepers’ producer Fred Coe.

b/w, 30 min. Creator: David Swift. Cast: Wally Cox, Mary McCarty, Mae Barnes, Pat Hingle, George Maharis, Tony Randall.