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1. Riley gets morbidly frantic over having his tonsils removed

2. Riley Consorts With A Mobster For Daughter, Babs!
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Riley Wouldn't Be Without These

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cast of The Life Of Riley tv family

The longest running and most popular version of The Life of Riley starred William Bendix as Chester A. Riley, but the show has an intriguing history. It started as a popular 1940's radio sitcom with, would you believe, Groucho Marx as Reilly (from the Irish James Reilly lore). In 1949 it was was adapted into a 1949 big screener. That same year, it was brought to the small (10" in those days) screen with none other than Jackie Gleason playing Riley, Rosemary De Camp was wife Peg. The ratings naught, Gleason not happy, CBS dropped the series. In 1953, Abby Berlin produced the more successful version with Bendix at the helm, Marjorie Reynolds was a sterner (and better playoff to hubbie) Peg, Lugene Sanders the cute but kinda sexy daughter, leggy Babs, Wesley Morgan as the "gee dad" younger brother and Tom D'andrea (for most years) as the scheming buddy, coworker, next door neighbor Gillis. With the Andersons and the Cleavers headed by white collar patriots, Riley, before Archie, was the blue collar dad. Most endeared: Bendix, as Riley, would mug into the camera with either It's a losin' fight or What a revoltin' development this is. Gulf Oil footed the bill so long as Chester would help out at a Gulf station in Summit, New Jersey (TV ad filming locale).

About William Bendix William Bendix was born and raised in New York City. He made his film debut in 1942, having worked as a grocer until the Great Depression. He played in supporting roles in dozens of Hollywood films, usually as a soldier, gangster or detective. He started with appearances in film noir films including a memorable performance in The Glass Key, which also featured Brian Donlevy and Veronica Lake. He soon gained more attention after appearing in Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat as Gus, a wounded and dying American sailor. Bendix's other well-known movie roles include his portrayal of legendary baseball-player Babe Ruth in The Babe Ruth Story and Sir Sagramore opposite Bing Crosby in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949), in which he took part in the famous trio, "Busy Doing Nothing".

At the time, however, Bendix was best known for starring as Chester A. Riley in the comedy series "The Life of Riley," the series is considered by some to be the first actual situation comedy. Bendix's successful Riley aired 1953 to 1958. William Bendix is one of the most cherished actors in history of radio.

William Bendix died much too soon on December 14. 1964 in Los Angeles of pneumonia at the age of only 58. He was interred there in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.

About Marjorie Reynolds Born Marjorie Goodspeed, in Buhl, Idaho, as her parents made the cross-country trip from Maine to settle in California, she was featured as a child actress in silent films such as Scaramouche (1923). Her first speaking role was in Murder in Greenwich Village (1937). She also appeared in bit parts in many A-pictures including Gone with the Wind (1939).

A stand-out role for Reynolds was as the waitress and loyal girlfriend opposite wrongly-accused Richard Cromwell in Universal Pictures's anti-Nazi action drama entitled, Enemy Agent (1940). That same year, in The Fatal Hour, Reynolds appeared for Monogram Pictures as a reporter on the trail of Boris Karloff's detective James Lee Wong, and opposite Grant Withers as a cop . Her later films included Holiday Inn (1942), Fritz Lang's Ministry of Fear (1944) and Up in Mabel's Room (1944). Her career progression was hindered by the premature death of her mentor, Mark Sandrich. Often featured in dramatic roles, in Holiday Inn, she showed her ability to dance, and she performed "White Christmas" as a duet with Bing Crosby, although her singing was dubbed by Martha Mears. She later appeared in the NBC version of the television series The Life of Riley (1953–1958, for which she is best known for, the often frustrated but nevertheless loving and loyal wife of Chester A. Riley

On February 1, 1997, having suffered from congestive heart disease, she collapsed and died in Manhattan Beach, California, while walking her dog. She was 79 years old.

About Lugene Sanders Lugene Sanders was born 1954 in Oklahoma City, OK. She was the typical starlet-wannabe knocking on doors of agents in Los Angeles, doing bit parts in B exploitation movies and swimsuit (and less) modelling for men's magazines. Luck came when in 1951 when Betty White left doomed "Meet Corliss Archer" teen sitcom and Lugene was cast as Corliss for the second and final season; Sanders also appeared in episodes of "Richard Diamond, Private Eye" Upwards and onwards, director Abby Berlin wanted a "hot looking, but ingenue faced" actress to play in the re-make of the failed CBS version of "The Life Of Riley," which had starred Jackie Gleason as Riley and Rosemary De Camp as wife, Peg. Berlun credited Sanders as "warming" the program director of NBC and all important advertising agency execs for the "better" version of "The Life Of Riley." While, of course, William Bendix's impeccable portrayal of hapless Chester A. Riley (the part may not have been Kramden-ish enough to fit Gleason),

Indeed, sultry Lugene Sanders held the eyes of young male viewers, especially in the episode where she wore a bathing suit...inside a prison her father had mistaken for a vacation cottage, during the final season when ratings started to dip. After "...Riley" ended it's run. Sanders survived on returning to modelling and a few bit acting parts here and there; she did occasional stage theatre gigs. Last we heard, Lugene Sanders was living in California

Lugene Sanders has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Extra! 3. Riley's Signature "Revoltin' Development" (mouseover, then right click screen to play)


pointing animation ANOTHER EXTRA! right click here to
WATCH WILLIAM BENDIX AS A GAS STATION ATTENDANT
FOR HIS TV SPONSOR, GULF OIL
classic Reilly ad gimmick in Summit, NJ, circa 1954!


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