Cute couple, eh? Well, don’t get your hopes up; they’re both dead.
Sometimes life imitates art and sometimes art imitates art. In 1937, the film Topper was released. Starring Cary Grant, the plot was that a fun-loving couple, finding that they are dead and are now ghosts, decide to shake up the stuffy lifestyle of a friend of theirs. It was quite successful, so in 1953 the film was used as the basis for a new TV comedy series Topper. This series was about a somewhat grumpy and reserved banker, Cosmo Topper (played wonderfully by Leo G. Carroll), and the ghosts which only he could see and hear, George and Marion Kerby (played to perfection by real-life married couple Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling). The Kerbys would often try to get Cosmo to chill out and enjoy life, but usually they ended up complicating it for him. The cast also included an alcoholic St. Bernard, Neil, who we learn got the Kerbys killed in the first place. From the IMDb:
I remember well watching reruns of this series in the Fifties; incredibly, it still shows up in late-night reruns on broadcast TV even today. The special effects were pretty good for 1953, and now they’re merely quaint. But the pleasant and good-natured charm of this story about the stodgy banker and the two friendly ghosts of the young marrieds who used to live in his house and were killed by an avalanche is just wonderful. The ghosts alternately help and drive crazy Topper – but they mean well. The chemistry is excellent, helped by Sterling and Jeffreys being married.
Myself, I recall watching this program in 1960’s reruns and my father and I used to guffaw at the dog more than anything. What a lush for gin! It lasted but two seasons (probably the beginning of the WTM curse) but is still fondly remembered 65 years later.
YouTube seems to list all episodes and I have embedded below the first episode and their take on A Christmas Carol. Seems reasonable enough with 2, er, 3 ghosts in the house. Primitive though this may look today, it was aired at a time when good scripting and good acting were the rule, not the exception. Yet another ‘safe’ series of the time.
First episode – Topper meets the ghosts.
Topper’s Christmas Carol