WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, JULY 11, 1951 Times-Daily
By JACK QUIGG
(For Bob Thomas)
HOLLYWOOD, (AP), -- Silence is golden, especially if you can keep mum as artfully as Gale Gordon.
Mr. Gordon, a handsome, fortyish gentleman with a Clark Gable moustache and the trace of a British accent, earns as much as a lot of movie stars simply by keeping his mouth closed—at the right time.
One of Hollywood’s top radio actors he is known in the trade as “The Master Of The Eloquent Pause.”
If you don’t quite place his name, you undoubtedly know him by voice if you’re any kind of radio fan—he appears regularly on seven big network programs. Gordon is:
Mayor Latrivia on the “FibberMcGee and Molly” show: back president Rudolph Atterbury on “My Favorite Husband”; school principal Osgood Conklin on “Our Miss Brooks”; Mr. Scott, head of RCA, on the Phil Harris-Alice Faye show; Mr. Merryweather, Ronald Colman’s rich friend on “Halls Of Ivy”; Mr. Bullard, the next door neighbor, on “The GreatGildersleeve,” and the girl friend’s father on the Dennis Day show.
“These characters are all of a type,” says Gordon, “pompous, stuffy, opinionated and loud. Therefore, it is easy to make them humorous if the script writer is skillful”
What is the eloquent pause? Here is an example from, say, the Fibber McGee show:
McGee says something insulting or aggravating Gordon, as Latrivin, should properly reply with anger or frustration—something quick and sarcastic. But he doesn’t
“I wait There is a long pause. I am trying to control my temper. The audience knows that and in its mind it is going over all the possible answers I may give
“Then, at last, I come out with a very flat remark. Maybe something as simple as the one word, ‘Yes.’ It is doubly funny because everyone listening knows that you fought off a temptation to explode into something more violent.”
Gordon says the technique is so effective he frequently gets laughs before he makes his comeback. The secret, he says, is knowing how long to keep silent before replying.
Gordon readily admits he’s typed, but he doesn’t mind. “I am paid very well, well enough so I’m not struggling to get out of the rut,” he says.
New York born, but schooled in England—which accounts for the British accent—he broke into show business on Broadway and was a leading man in stock companies before settling in Hollywood in 1926.
His eloquent pause being such a laugh-getter, why havent’ more actors tried it?
“Several have,” says Gordon, “but they didn’t have the nerve to keep still long enough.”