Gale Gordon was a popular American actor who had a long and successful career in radio, television, and film. He was best known for his roles as Theodore J. Mooney in The Lucy Show, Osgood Conklin in Our Miss Brooks, and Mr. Wilson in Dennis the Menace. He was also a frequent collaborator of Lucille Ball, appearing in four of her sitcoms. But how did Gale Gordon die? What was the cause of death of this talented and versatile performer?
Early Life and Career
Gale Gordon was born as Charles Thomas Aldrich Jr. on February 20, 1906, in New York City, to actress Gloria Gordon and vaudevillian Charles Thomas Aldrich. He had a cleft palate that required corrective surgery in England when he was young. He started his acting career on the stage and later moved to radio, where he became the first actor to voice the comic strip hero Flash Gordon in 1935. He also played various roles on Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, and My Favorite Husband.
World War II Service and Post-War Success
Gordon enlisted in the US Coast Guard during World War II and served for four years. After the war, he resumed his radio career and landed his most famous role as Osgood Conklin, the irascible principal of Madison High School, on Our Miss Brooks. The show was a hit on both radio and television, and Gordon received an Emmy nomination for his performance in 1955. He also starred in other radio and TV shows, such as The Halls of Ivy, Granby’s Green Acres, and Pete and Gladys.
Working with Lucille Ball
Gordon had a long and fruitful partnership with Lucille Ball, who admired his comic timing and delivery. He first worked with her on My Favorite Husband, the radio precursor of I Love Lucy. He later appeared as Ricky Ricardo’s boss Alvin Littlefield on I Love Lucy, and as Lucy Carmichael’s boss Theodore J. Mooney on The Lucy Show. He received three more Emmy nominations for his role as Mooney from 1967 to 1971. He also co-starred with Ball on Here’s Lucy as her brother-in-law Harry Carter, and on Life with Lucy as her business partner Curtis McGibbon.
Final Years and Death
Gordon continued to work in television until the late 1980s, appearing in shows such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Alice, Newhart, and The ‘Burbs. He also did voice work for animated shows such as Garfield and Friends and DuckTales. He retired from acting in 1991 due to health problems. He suffered from lung cancer and emphysema, which eventually claimed his life on June 30, 1995. He was 89 years old. He died at a nursing home in Escondido, California, with his wife of 58 years, Virginia Curley, by his side.
Legacy and Influence
Gale Gordon was one of the most respected and admired actors of his generation. He was known for his professionalism, versatility, and impeccable comedic skills. He influenced many other actors and comedians, such as Bob Newhart, John Cleese, Tim Conway, and Jim Carrey. He was also a generous and kind person who supported various charities and causes. He wrote two books: Nursery Rhymes for Hollywood Babies (1986) and My Life with Lucille (1991). He was also an avid painter who enjoyed creating landscapes and portraits.
Gale Gordon left behind a rich legacy of entertainment that continues to delight audiences today. He was a true master of comedy who made millions laugh with his memorable characters and hilarious expressions. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest TV actors of all time.