Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Bill Idelson R.I.P.

Bill Idelson, the television actor, writer, and producer perhaps best known for playing Sally's boyfriend Herman Glimscher on The Dick Van Dyke Show, died December 31 at the age of 88.

Idelson was born in Forest Park, Illinois on August 21, 1919. His acting career began when in 1931, when he was only twelve years old, playing Skeezix in Uncle Walt and Skeezix, a radio show based on the Gasoline Alley comic strip. It was only a year later that he was cast as Rush, the adopted son of Vic on the radio show Vic and Sade. Idelson remained with Vic and Sade until World War II, when he joined the Navy, in which he served as a fighter pilot. Following the war he studied at the Actor's Lab and continued appearing in radio shows, including the long running soap opera One Man's Family.

With the old radio shows losing their audience to television, it was inevitable that Idelson would have a television career. His first TV appearance was as Bill Abbot on the TV show Mixed Doubles in 1949. Throughout the Fifties he appeared on such shows as Dragnet, Peter Gunn, and Leave It to Beaver. The Sixties would see Idelson appear on The Twilight Zone, Thriller, The Virginian, and My Favourite Martian. It was also during this decade that he was cast in his most famous role, that of Sally's boyfriend, Herman Glimscher, on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Still very attached to his mother, Herman even brought her along on a few of their dates! Idleson would also make guest appearances on such shows as The Odd Couple, Happy Days, and Will and Grace. Perhaps fittingly, among his last jobs was playing Herman Glimshcer once more on The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited, the reunion special airing in 2004. As it turns out, Sally and Herman did finally marry!

Bill Idelson broke into writing for television with the episode "Long Distance Call" for The Twilight Zone. He would go on to write several episodes for The Andy Griffith Show, as well as episodes for Get Smart, Bewitched, The Odd Couple, The Bob Newhart Show, and M*A*S*H. He was a producer on both the TV series Anna and the King and The Bob Newhart Show.

Idelson wrote four books: Bill Idelson's Writing Class, Gibby, The Story of Vic and Sade, and Writing for Dough.

Although most people probably don't recognise his name, Bill Idelson was one of the most talented actors and writers to work in television. His role of Herman Glimscher on The Dick Van Dyke Show. While many actors would have played Herman very broadly, Idelson played him very subtly. One could just look at Herman Glimscher and tell he was a loser. As to Idelson's writing credits, he wrote some of the best episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, among other sitcoms. In fact, he won the Writers Guild Awards for best episodic comedy twice--once for an episode of The Andy Griffith Show and once for an episode Get Smart. Bill Idelson may not have been the most famous name in television, but he is one that should be remembered.


Bob Dylan said...

HAAA! I loved Herman Glimsher! Poor Sally--did she ever end up marrying him? I just loved the way she talked about him-- I love watching reruns of that show.

your post reminds me of the guy who played Ernest T. Bass on the Andy Griffith Show-- he was pretty talented too.

Bob Dylan said...

Oh they did marry--I totally missed that during my first reading of this post--never saw the "revisited: either.