Friday, September 4, 2009

Cummings Attractions




Television sitcoms have come a long way since the early days of television.   


Of course, that isn’t necessarily a complement.


Fifty years ago, one of the best sitcoms was The Bob Cummings show, aka Love That Bob (in syndication).   It began in 1955 on CBS, moved to NBC after half a season where it ran for two years, then returned to CBS for its final two year run.  


It was syndicated during daytimes in the 1960s as Love That Bob on ABC.


The plot was pretty simple.  Bob Cummings played Bob Collins, a Hollywood photographer, ladies man, and air force reservist.  He is constantly pursuing the the gorgeous models he photographs, but his plans more often than not fall apart.

This series, which co-starred Rosemary DeCamp – who is well remembered as playing Jimmy Cagney’s sister in Yankee Doodle Dandy – and also played the part of Peg Riley in the first incarnation of The Life of Riley on TV (with Jackie Gleason).


Ann B. Davis had third billing, but she became hugely popular as `Schultzy’, and had a good deal of screen time in the series. While she went on to play Alice in The Brady Bunch, to my generation she will always be Schultzy. She won two Emmy awards for the role.


The series also starred such up and coming stars as a young Dwayne Hickman (Before he would become Dobie GIllis) and Nancy Culp playing a man-crazy bird watcher before she became Miss Hathaway on The Beverly Hillbillies (Playing almost the same role).

The star was Charles Clarence Robert Orville `Bob’ Cummings (June 9, 1910 – December 2, 1990) – who had matinee idol looks, and a suave delivery – but never quite jelled as a major movie star.


Cummings began working on Broadway in the early 1930s, opposite Fanny Brice.  He’d spent time in England and had perfected an upperclass English accent, which helped his career.    He acted under the name Bruce Hutchens for awhile in the 1930s, but returned to his given name by the late 1930s.


His film career picked up in 1939, when he starred in Three Smart Girls with Deanna Durbin, and then followed that film with a series of fairly lightweight comedies. 

Cummings received good notices for his dramatic performances in Kings Row (1942) , Saboteur (1942), and Dial M for Murder (1954), but his film career languished.  


His films weren’t bad – just largely forgettable.


  • Princess O'Rourke (1943)
  • Flesh and Fantasy (1943)
  • You Came Along (1945)
  • The Bride Wore Boots (1946)
  • The Chase (1946)
  • Heaven Only Knows (1947)
  • The Lost Moment (1947)
  • Sleep, My Love (1948)
  • Let's Live a Little (1948)
  • The Accused (1949)
  • Reign of Terror (1949)
  • Tell It to the Judge (1949)
  • Free for All (1949)
  • Paid in Full (1950)
  • The Petty Girl (1950)
  • For Heaven's Sake (1950)
  • The Barefoot Mailman (1951)

    But it wasn’t until The Bob Cummings Show that he really gained stardom.  


    He followed up his success with 2 more series attempts (The New Bob Cummings Show, and My Living Doll).  Neither proved to be successful, and both only ran a short time.


    His big show was re-run for about a decade on daytime television, but black & white episodes fell out of fashion by the early 1970s, and since then they’ve seen only limited play.  The copyright on these shows was never renewed, and they have fallen into the public domain.

    While a slower pace than today’s snappy sitcoms, and less risqué (although not altogether innocent), these shows remain an enjoyable window into the humor and lifestyles of 1950s. 


    Here then are 20 episodes from The Internet Archive.


    Love That Bob : Bob Goes Bird Watching
    Bob Retrenches
    Bob Saves Harvey
    Bob's Forgotten Fiancee
    Bob In Orbit
    Bob Plays Margaret's Game
    Bob and Schultzy Reunite
    Bob and the Dumb Blonde
    Bob Gets Harvey A Raise
    Bob and the Ravishing Realtor
    Bob Becomes A Stage Uncle
    Bob DIgs Rock And Roll
    Bob Goes To The Moon
    Bob Judges A Beauty Contest
    Bob Butters Beck, Beck Butters Better
    Grandpa's Christmas Visit
    Grandpa's Old Buddy
    Collins The Crooner
    Grandpa Attends A Convention
    Grandpa Moves West


    Anonymous said...

    A true comedy classic!!Thanks a million!!

    Hector said...

    isLike "Sgt. Bilko" this was a fast paced and well written show. Cummings is very good as Bob Collins and he also directed most of the episodes. Catch this show because it will definetly make you laugh.