Hard to believe that it is already some 30 years since “Cheers” was first broadcast on network television.The show, to those who may not recall, was set in a bar named Cheers (named after the popular toast) in Boston, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, and socialize. The show’s main theme song, lent its famous refrain, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”, as the show’s tagline.
But before cheers there were a number of friendly corner pubs that welcomed us on television and radio.
One was “Duffy’s Tavern”, a popular radio situation comedy which ran for a decade on several networks (CBS, 1941–1942; NBC Blue Network, 1942–1944; NBC, 1944–1951), concluding with the December 28, 1951 broadcast.
The program often featured celebrity guest stars but always hooked them around the misadventures, get-rich-quick-schemes and romantic missteps of the title establishment’s malprop-prone, metaphor-mixing manager, Archie, portrayed by Ed Gardner, the writer/actor who co-created the series. Gardner had performed the character of Archie, talking about Duffy’s Tavern, as early as November 9, 1939, when he appeared on NBC’s Good News of 1940.
As a result of the radio program’s popularity, dozens of bars and inns across the country adopted the name.
The show also inspired a number of references in popular culture formats – the most meaningful to us was that of “Joe the Bartender”.
According to the website JackieGleason.com, “Joe the Bartender was created by Jackie to provide a vehicle for tales of his real-life pals from Brooklyn. Forever spinning his expansive yarns to unseen customer Mr. Dennehy, Joe showcases Gleason’s gift for holding the audience’s attention with a brilliantly-executed monologue”.
Unfortunately, we cannot share with you Jackie Gleason as Joe the Bartender greeting us with the song “My Gal Sal” directly, but we can direct you to a through this link to the Gleason site. That clip also features Crazy Guggenheim (Frank Fontaine). For a brief period he was a social phenomena as well.
For now, here is another version of My Gal Sal, a good one as well via the famous Jelly Roll Morton: