Fibber McGee and Molly

"The Johnson Wax Program with Fibber McGee and Molly" (the show's full spoonsored name) is one of the rare radio programs which has achieved a kind of immortality. Well after the series petered out in the mid-1950s, people still respond to the words "Fibber McGee's Closet," even if they've never heard the original.

Jim and Marion Jordan honed their comedy timing early on, first in small-town vaudeville, and later local Chicago programs like "Smackout." Fibber McGee and Molly also had to evolve -- a listen to the very first show from 1935 reveals an almost unrecognizable set of characterizations. It took a year or two for the couple to settle in Wistful Vista, and a few more years to bring out the supporting cast (like the Great Gildersleeve) and the recurring gags (the closet didn't appear until 1940) that would make it a weekly favorite.

Listeners today will find the show a time capsule, full of corny jokes, dated references, and as many now-obscure topical moments as any wartime Looney Tunes cartoon. But there are also genuine good feelings and a true sense of happiness in the episodes. The fact that one man, Don Quinn, singlehandedly wrote most of the episodes is a real achievement.