The Adventures of Topper
Who is Cosmo Topper? Thorne Smith’s lively characters enjoyed an international audience through a trio of popular Topper movies. They gained new fame when CBS Television produced the episodic Topper TV series in 1953. Veteran character actor Leo G. Carroll was cast as the haunted banker, Cosmo Topper.
The mischievous ghosts, George and Marion Kerby, were played with flair by real-life husband and wife team Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys.
Rounding out the cast were Lee Patrick as Cosmo’s ever-bubbly wife, Henrietta, and dependable character actress Kathleen Freeman as Katie, the maid. The Kerby’s martini-loving St. Bernard, Neil, frequently stole the show.
TV Classics: The Adventures of Topper
A Collection of the Funniest Episodes from the Topper TV Series
Topper TV Series
Starring Leo G. Carroll as Cosmo Topper
Topper was a 1950s television series based on characters created by American author Thorne Smith. Three popular films were earlier produced by Hal Roach Studios—Topper in 1937, Topper Takes a Trip in 1938, and Topper Returns in 1941.
In the supernatural sitcom, Cosmo Topper (Leo G. Carroll) is vice-president of a bank. Cosmo and his wife Henrietta (Lee Patrick) live in a house that is haunted by two of the bank’s former clients, George and Marion Kerby (Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys).
So how did the Kerby’s become ghosts? The couple died tragically in an avalanche, along with their martini-loving St. Bernard, Neil, who also appears as a ghost. Only Cosmo Topper is able to see and hear them. Topper aired on CBS and was sponsored by Camel Cigarettes. Indeed, the leading characters were required to smoke Camel cigarettes during filming of the show.
Starring as Marion Kerby
Anne Jeffreys … Marion Kerby
Robert Sterling … George Kerby
Leo G. Carroll … Cosmo Topper
Lee Patrick … Henrietta Topper
Kathleen Freeman … Katie the Maid
Buck … Neil (the St. Bernard)
Topper TV Series
Topper special ghost effects, which are quaint by modern standards, were state of the art in the 1950s. They were created by Film Effects of Hollywood.
Topper TV Series Facts & Trivia
- Release Date: October 9, 1953 (USA)
- Genres: Fantasy – Comedy
- Emmy Nomination for Best Situation Comedy (1954)
- The show ran for two seasons, during which time 78 episodes were produced.
- Award winning composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim wrote 9 episodes.
- Film Effects of Hollywood created the special ghost effects.
- Leo G. Carroll appeared in more Alfred Hitchcock films (Rebecca, Suspicion, Spellbound, The Paradine Case, Strangers on a Train, and North By Northwest) than any other actor except Hitchcock himself.
- Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys were married in real life.
Happy Hollywood Couple: Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys
Original Vintage Magazine Clipping
Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys were married in 1951 and had three sons. In addition to the Topper TV series, the duo starred in the television show Love That Jill. They remained together until Robert Sterling’s death in 2006 at age 88.
Sponsored by Camel Cigarettes
Original Vintage Camel Cigarettes Magazine Advertisement
How MILD can a cigarette be? My cigarette must be mild. I smoke CAMELS. They agree with my throat and they taste grand!
My, how times change. Where else can you watch television shows featuring Camel cigarette ads? The producers were especially proud of the fact they were providing free smokes to our enlisted men and women overseas.
Topper TV Series
Who is Thorne Smith?
Author and Creator of Topper
Many years ago, a friend mentioned to author Michael Walker that his writing style was reminiscent of Thorne Smith. Upon learning that Walker was unfamiliar with the author, the friend loaned him his personal dog-eared copy of Topper.
Eventually Michael Walker became an expert on Thorne Smith. He wrote Host To Said Ghosts: The Thorne Smith Story and created ThorneSmith.net, a website devoted to the largely forgotten Depression-era writer.
Learn more about accomplished author Thorne Smith, the man who inspired such supernatural television favorites as Mister Ed, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie.
- Books by Thorne Smith
- Thorne Smith at the Movies
- Radio Shows Featuring Thorne Smith
- Thorne Smith’s Short Stories
- Thorne Smith & TV Shows
Thorne Smith Kindle Editions
Thanks to digital publishing, Thorne Smith’s ribald adventures are enjoying popularity once again.
Lovely Anne Jeffreys is the “Ghostess with the Mostest”