Duffy's Tavern

Charlie Cantor, Ed Gardner and Eddie Green

Duffy's Tavern premiered in March 1941, and quickly became a critical and popular hit. The show was created by Ed Gardner, who played "Archie", the tavern's manager, and by writer Abe Burrows. Larry Gelbart also wrote some episodes, so as you can see (and hear), the writing was first-rate.

Gardner opened each show by answering a ringing phone with the line, "Duffy's Tavern, where the elite meet ta' eat. Archie the manager speakin' - Duffy ain't here."
On the other end of the phone would be Duffy (he was never heard), and Archie would tell Duffy which guest star was visiting the bar that night, or what the setup for the episode was. The show addressed the question of why show business stars would visit a dive like Duffy's by placing the tavern on Manhattan's East Side.

The saloon had a motley cast of characters, including Eddie, the wisecracking waiter; Finnegan, the ever-inebriated barfly; Clancy the cop; and Miss Duffy, the owner's ditzy daughter. Miss Duffy was originally played by theater star Shirley Booth, who was married to Ed Gardner at the time. When they divorced, Booth left the show, prompting a well-publicized talent hunt for the new "Miss Duffy". Florence Halop was eventually hired, but there was a revolving door in that role for the rest of the series.

The show was well-loved. When a sponsor tried to remove "Tavern" from the title (so as not to encourage drinking), the public would have none of it. The original title was restored before long. Duffy's Tavern also had a long legacy in American entertainment, influencing everything from Jackie Gleason's "Joe the Bartender" sketches to Archie Bunker's Place and Cheers. Archie Bunker's Place, in particular, bears an uncanny resemblance to Duffy's, and Cheers was co-created by James Burrows, son of Duffy's Tavern co-creator Abe Burrows. So you see, there's nothing new under the sun. But Archie the manager could have told you that.

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