Leo G. Carroll as Cosmo Topper, the hosts to the ghosts.
Anne Jeffreys as Marion Kerby, the ghostess with the mostest.
Robert Sterling as George Kerby, the most gentlemanly ghost
"Topper" is a classic 1950's black and white comedy that
features Leo G. Carrol as the lead, Cosmo Topper. Playing
the role of a courteously proper, albeit sometimes stuffy
and uptight banker, Topper and his wife Henrietta, played
by Lee Patrick, move into a lovely new estate where, all
of a sudden the two are joined by company; dead company.
Allegedly the former residents, Marion (Anne Jeffreys) and
George Kerby (Robert Sterling) died tragically young one
night in an automobile accident, along with their beloved
martini sipping St. Bernard, Neil. Unprepared to leave their
earthly delights of the tangible world Marion and George
decide to linger around their former stomping ground, frolicking
in the gaeties of surprising the unsuspecting Toppers. However,
there is a catch; only Cosmo Topper, save for the audience
and the narrator, can hear or see his ghostly colleagues.
As a comedy most of the humor in the show comes from the
fast dialogue that exploits the use of pun and cliche. However,
as familiar as the pat phrases may seem, the delivery, particularly
by Robert Sterling, is fresh and always funny. So too is
Anne Jeffreys a refreshing delight as the exuberant, albeit
over-helpful, one might say meddling, in Topper's affairs
in good earnest. Though Lee Patrick plays the conservative
wife successfully, at times either her character, or her
delivery comes off as almost too desperate, too whiny, and,
in effect, I most often found her to be the most disagreeable
of the quartet of main characters. Another character adding
to the comedic aura of the series if the maid, Katie, played
by Kathleen Freeman, whose role as the unknowing yet suspicious
housekeeper provokes many of Topper's trite, comedic, albeit
ridiculous excuses to account for the supernatural phenomena
blatantly pervading the house.
Among some of the best episodes in the series are 'Redecorating';
a funny stint on how Mr. Topper, with the help of Marian
and George Kirby of course, avenge Mrs. Topper's injustice
after she gets scammed by a modern interior decorator, 'George's
Old Flame'; in which one of Topper's clients contrives a
way to trick her aunt into acquiescing her marriage to a
famous movie star by the name of John Hartford. Of course
as comedy would have it, John Hartford was the icon of Marion
Kerby's youthful lust just as, coincidentally, Topper's
client, Ellen Baskerville, was a former fling of Georges.
As petty marital rivalry provokes a mayhem of ghostly interference
during a very important dinner, Topper does his best to
contrive logical explanations for the illogical phenomena
occurring. Meanwhile a depressed Niel, the martini sipping
St. Bernard, has taken to closet drinking and exploited
the supply of canned beer while his mom and dad go at it
like rivaling siblings. Another classic episode is 'Proposal';
feeling lackluster and in need of some attention, Marian
Kirby does her best to catch George's eye so as to feel
appreciated. But when she begins to think that George's
love may be waning she finds a way out; "'til death do us
part'. Realizing that their status as ghosts terminates
the marital clause Marian insists that she and George separated
and, pending his desire to court her again, and of course,
propose. As George stumbles through the mechanical process
of courting tension mounts as Marian eagerly awaits, and
George dreads... the proposal.
"Topper" is a witty comedic series that reflects the temperaments
of both British and American humor; the former particularly
personified in Cosmo and Henrietta Topper. A marvelous extended
adaptation of the 1937 film starring Cary Grant as George
Kerby, "Topper" is a refreshing, comedic flavor of the great
television series of old. With witty word play, great chemistry
between Jeffreys and Sterling as husband and wife, a solid
and consistently entertaining performance by Leo G. Carrol,
"Topper" promises to entertain sitcom lovers of old and
modern audiences alike. In recognition of its respectable
status "Topper" was nominated for an Emmy in 1954 for Best
Nominated for a 1954 Emmy for Best Situation Comedy Series.
Minor Characters and Credited Cast:
Lee Patrick plays Henrietta Topper, the non-believing wife.
Buck plays Neil, the ghost dog with a penchant for Martinis.
Thurston Hall plays Mr. Schuyler, Topper's grumbling boss.
Kathleen Freeman plays Katie (1953-1954), the curious housemaid.
Edna Skinner as Maddie (1954-1955)
Nolan Leary as Satcherell/Quimby
Mary Field as Thelma Gibney
Lillian Bronson as Miss Erskins