One of the first successful TV situation comedies not derived from a radio show was Mr. Peepers, which starred Wally Cox as a shy science teacher named Robinson Peepers. It went on the air July 3, 1952 as a summer replacement and received such high ratings and good reviews that NBC quickly added it to the Fall, 1952 schedule. The recipient of one Peabody Award and eight Emmy nominations, the series remained on the air until June 12, 1955…so the above ticket is from one of the last broadcasts.
The supporting cast included Joseph Foley, Tony Randall, Norma Crane, David Tyrell and Marion Lorne. Randall played the brash history teacher, Harvey Weskit, who was everything Peepers wasn’t: Outgoing, bold, and almost sufferingly self-confident. Like all the other teachers at Jefferson High School, he wanted to help the introverted Peepers, and his advice usually resulted in things getting a lot worse. Cox was delightful and utterly convincing in the role…an achievement that seems to have caused the actor vast amounts of personal pain. He was forever typed as a meek milquetoast, a personality he insisted was quite unlike his true self. In several interviews later in life, he loudly proclaimed that he hated Mr. Peepers and was sorry he’d ever done the show.
Mr. Peepers was performed live each week from the Century Theatre in New York. For a rundown of the history of this building, see the listing for the game show, Treasure Hunt.