In September 1963 Phil Silvers returned to the series comedy format with The New Phil Silvers Show. The show was owned and produced by Phil's Gladasaya Productions and sponsored by the General Foods Corporation.
The series saw Phil cast in the role of factory foreman Harry Grafton, who worked at Osborne Industries. Harry was, in essence, Bilko in civvies....he was a loveable rogue who ran scams and money-making schemes.
Producer/Director Rod Amateau, who had produced The George Burns Show, The Bob Cummings Show and The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis helped to assemble a great cast and crew including Stafford Repp (Batman's Chief O'Hara), Jim Renella and Phil's friend and mentor Herbie Faye.
The scripts were polished, well-written, energetic and full of the twists and flourishes that had served the writers so well on Bilko. Phil Sharp, who had previously written for The Phil Silvers Show, was one of many of the talented writers who worked on the show.
Sadly the audiences didn't take to Harry Grafton in the way that they had done with Ernie Bilko. Whereas Ernie Bilko was the underdog soldier simply trying to make an extra dollar, the public felt that Harry Grafton had a good, well-paid job and his scams had no place on the factory floor. In an attempt to revive the show Harry was placed in a family environment. Actress Elena Verdugo was cast as Harry's sister and Harry became a father-figure to her children (played by Ronnie Dapo & Sandy Descher). The emphasis was switched from the factory to Harry's home-life.
The final eight episodes are well-written and superbly acted. They bear more than a passing resemblance to latter-day shows such as Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond, but the changes came too late and the show did not survive beyond its first season.
The show was broadcast in the US in 1963/64 and in the UK on the ITV network in 1964. It has never been repeated and to date there are no plans for a DVD release.
The New Phil Silvers Show - Cast List:
Phil Silvers....................Harry Grafton (30 episodes)
Herbie Faye...................Waluska (24 episodes)
Stafford Repp...............Mr.Brink (17 episodes)
Jim Shane......................Lester (8 episodes)
Pat Renella....................Roxy (8 episodes)
Elena Verdugo...............Audrey (8 episodes)
Sandy Descher...............Susan (8 episodes)
Ronnie Dapo..................Andy (8 episodes)
Buddy Lester.................Nick (7 episodes)
Douglas Dumbrille.........Mr.Osborne (6 episodes)
Robert Williams............Bob (5 episodes)
Steve Mitchell...............Starkey (4 episodes)
Eric Morris......................Stanley (3 episodes)
Henry Scott...................Scarpitta (2 episodes)
Carole Cook...................Gertrude (2 episodes)
Bert Mustin...................Magruder (2 episodes)
Series Produced by.......Rod Amateau
Associate Producer......Norman Henry
Directed by...................Rod Amateau (and various)
Music by........................Harry Geller
Cinematography...........James Van Trees
Sponsored by................General Foods
A Gladasaya Production
Episode 1 (Original Air Date - 28/9/1963)
Man It's Like Progress
Harry Grafton's department is thrown into chaos with the introudction of a new computer.
Episode 2 (Original Air Date - 5/10/1963)
The Great Forklift Contest
Harry rigs the betting in a Forklifting contest.
Episode 3 (Original Air Date - 12/10/1963)
Harry plans his own 'surprise' birthday party with unexpected results.
Episode 4 (Original Air Date - 19/10/1963)
The Tortoise and The Harry
Harry organises turtle races at the factory with hilarious consequences.
Episode 5 (Original Air Date - 26/10/1963)
Harry Today, Gone Tomorrow
Mr Brink tries to get Harry transfered to another factory.
Episode 6 (Original Air Date - 2/11/1963)
The Little Old Gluemaker, Me!
The plant janitor invents a new type of glue and Harry is convinced he can make millions by selling the secret formula.
Episode 7 (Original Air Date - 9/11/1963)
Harry comes up with an insurance scheme that protects against lost paychecks.
Episode 8 (Original Air Date 16/11/1963)
A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Coffee Break!
When Brink is asked how the factory can save money he suggests closing Harry's department.
Episode 9 (Original Air Date - 30/11/1963)
When Harry goes on vacation his replacement does such a good job that Harry worries about getting his job back.
Episode 10 (Original Air Date - 7/12/1963)
Las Vegas Was My Mother's Maiden Name
Harry gets special treatment at a Las Vegas hotel when he is mistaken for the celebrity....Phil Silvers!
Episode 11 (Original Air Date - 14/12/1963)
The Son Of Pygmailion
The lovely-but-dull Miss Fritterman wants Harry to turn her into his 'Fair Lady'.
Episode 12 (Original Air Date 21/12/1963)
Have I Got A Boy For You
Waluska falls for a girl at the factory but she's not interested.
Episode 13 (Original Air Date - 28/12/1963)
Who Do Voodoo? Harry Do!
Harry falls for a society girl in Trinidad. In order to change her disinterest he uses some of his 'old black magic'.
Episode 14 (Original Air Date - 4/1/1964)
Stop The Factory, I Want To Get Off
Harry pulls out all the stops to save a wedding.
Episode 15 (Original Air Date - 11/1/1964)
Beauty And The Least
Harry comes up with a plan to transform a plain girl into a beauty queen.
Episode 16 (Original Air Date - 18/1/1963)
75 & 1/2 Trombones
Harry runs a raffle. When one of his men wins he's overjoyed until he learns that his prize is an army tank....and it's in Okinawa.
Episode 17 (Original Air Date - 25/1/1964)
My Son, The Governor
To raise cash, Harry manufactures a batch of TV tables. He's soon heading for trouble when some of the tables wind up in a shipment of parts destined for the army.
Episode 18 (Original Air Date - 1/2/1964)
Leave It To Harry
Harry's sister goes on vacation, leaving Harry to look after her kids.
Episode 19 (Original Air Date - 8/2/1964)
Smile Harry, You're On Candid Camera
When out shopping Harry spies Allen Funt. He becomes determined not to get caught out acting silly on camera.
Episode 20 (Original Air Date - 15/2/1964)
Pay The Two Dollars
Harry tries to find a way to avoid paying a parking ticket.
Episode 21 (Original Air Date - 22/2/1964)
Harry, The Good Neighbor
When Harry overhears his newly-wed neighbors arguing he decides to step in and save the day. Things don't quite go to plan.
Episode 22 (Original Air Date - 29/2/1964)
Cyrano De Grafton
Harry's friend Lester needs help in wooing the girl of his dreams, but Harry is also infatuated with the same girl.
Episode 23 (Original Air Date - 7/3/1964)
Take Her, She's Tall
Harry tries to help his shy nephew win a date with a girl.
Episode 24 (Original Air Date - 14/3/1964)
Will The Real Harry Grafton Please Stand Up?
Harry goes all-out to win the 'Foreman Of The Year' contest.
Episode 25 (Original Air date - 21/3/1964)
When Harry hires a sweet old lady as a housekeeper she turns the house into a gambling den.
Episode 26 (Original Air Date - 28/3/1964)
Grafton's The Name, Football's My Game
Harry turns his hand to 'coaching' the local football team.
Episode 27 (Original Air Date - 4/4/1964)
Harry and some of his workmates get locked in a freezer.
Episode 28 (Original Air Date - 11/4/1964)
Vanity, Thy Name Is Harry
Harry tries to defy the ageing process by thinking 'young' and wearing a toupee.
Episode 29 (Original Air Date - 18/4/1964)
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying
Charley, the janitor, has lead his Mum to believe he is President of Osborne Industries. Chaos ensues when his mum decides to pay a visit.
Episode 30 (Original Air Date - 25/4/1964)
Moonlight and Dozes
When the factory nightwatchman looks like he is going to lose his job Harry goes into action.
Phil Silvers in a promo film for The New Phil Silvers Show (1963)
(The New Phil Silvers Show © The Phil Silvers Estate)
From Top to Bottom:
Phil Silvers as Harry Grafton
Phil poses on set for a promo pic
Colour shot taken on set
Phil with Elena Verdugo
Colour cast shot
Promo card shot for the show
Phil Silvers as Harry Grafton
Phil gave the following interview in 1963 just as work had begun on framing a new weekly television show for him.
"I'm going into television just as if it was a brand new medium and I was a brand new comic. I can see the reviews already: 'It's not as good as Bilko.' Well that's okay. I can only do my best. If it's inevitable that I'll be compared to Bilko, I can't fight it.
The show will have me playing a foreman in a big industrial plant, the nature of which hasn't been determined yet. You can see the possibilities...he has a special time clock that punches him in a quarter to nine, no matter what time he arrives at work, which is usually around 10.30 or 11.00....he has a secret tunnel to the executives' washroom...that sort of thing.
He'll have a crazy bunch of guys under him, and I'll be picking them out soon. I'll do the same as I did for Bilko - throw open the doors and let any actor come in for five minutes of conversation.
Sure, the role I'll play will be like Bilko, but so was Top Banana, and so were all those parts I played in movies as John Payne's best friend. It's a part of me, and if I do say so myself, I play it pretty well!."
'The New Phil Silvers Show', which to the dismay of many became old rather fast, will undergo some changes. A basic decision arrived at by program doctors of the Columbia Broadcasting System is that a factory setting, in which Mr. Silvers plays a foreman, is much too confining. It limits story possibilities. So early in the year Mr. Silvers will break out of that confine and start travelling, with or without a tux.
Last night CBS took officiail recognition of Mr. Silvers' run-down rating. It switched the order of his show and "the Defenders", rescheduling the comedian from 9.30 to 10 and the other program from 8.30 to 9.30.The relatively low rating of the Silvers show had resulted in "The Defenders", a prized possession of CBS, getting a smaller rating than it had last season. In the hope of defending "The Defenders", CBS reversed the order. Also, it was reasoned, Mr. Silvers might find the going easier against the 9.30 competition on other networks than he had encountered at 8.30.
Until now CBS has had Mr. Silvers in that factory every Saturday night, which is hardly the place any red-blooded working man would yearn to be at that time of the week. It has become apparent to CBS that Mr. Silvers must be exposed to new comedy characters (which may prompt new castings), new and varied situations and fresh locales.
Because the comedian was an outstanding hit for several seasons as Sergeant Bilko, also on CBS, there have been rumors the network might subject him to another draft. But CBS said last week there was no chance Mr. Silvers would be reinducted in any branch of the military service. It still thinks he can adjust to the demands of civilian life and Nielsen ratings.
NY Times, November 17, 1963
Excerpts from episodes of Phil's 1963/64 CBS TV series The New Phil Silvers Show.......(Windows Media Player required)