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topper
A violent blow on the head.

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Topper was an early 50's black-and-white American TV sitcom about a staid upper-class bank executive, Cosmo Topper, who was being haunted by a threesome of ghosts. George and Marian Kerby were the ghosts of gay (not that gay, the one before that) and charming, martini-sipping jet-setters (well they would have been jet-setters had there been any commercial jets back then) who died together in an avalanche while skiing in the Alps. The third ghost was Neil, the St. Bernard dog who died trying to save the dashing couple from their icy death. Neil, you see, took every opportunity to drink from the little keg of brandy he wore around his neck and was not so mindful of his business.

They all came back to haunt the former Kerby residence, now the home of the Toppers. The happy-go-lucky couple immediately took to stodgy old Topper, but decided they really had to remove some of the starch from this stuffy old guy. The situation comedy grew out of the predicaments that George and Marion kept putting the hapless Topper (even his wife called him that) into with the aim of getting him to loosen up a little. Topper could see the ghosts, as we the viewers could, and also talk with them, but no one else could. Somehow, though, Neil could make any nearby brandy disappear very quickly, with loud slurping sounds, and the Kerbys could cause things to happen, often to Topper's embarrassment.

Other characters where  Henrietta, Topper's shrill, fastidious, socially-conscious wife, Katie the maid, Maggie the cook, and various visitors to the Topper household.

The show was derived from a much earlier movie (1937) of the same name and plot line, which starred Cary Grant and Constance Bennet as the ghosts and as Roland Young as Topper. It was very popular and two other Topper movies followed, Topper Takes a Trip (1939) and Topper Returns (1941). The movie was based on the book written by Thorne Smith.

The TV show ran from 1953 to 1955, two years on CBS, one on NBC and a summer of reruns on ABC.

Cast:

Cosmo Topper      Leo G. Carroll
Henrietta Topper  Lee Patrick
George Kerby      Robert Sterling
Marian Kerby      Anne Jeffries
Neil              Buck
Katie the maid    Kathleen Freeman
Maggie the cook   Edna Skinner


On YouTube, with Jello commercials

 

Top"per (?), n.

1.

One that tops, in any sense of the verb; specif.:

(a)

A cover of a top layer or part. [Colloq.]

(b)

One that excels, surpasses, or is extraordinary of its kind. [Slang]

(c)

Any device for cutting off tops; as, a turnip topper.

(d)

One who tops steel ingots.

(e)

A three-square float (file) used by comb makers.

2.

A top hat. [Slang or Colloq.]

3.

Tobacco left in the bottom of a pipe bowl; -- so called from its being often taken out and placed on top of the newly filled bowl. Also, a cigar stump. [Slang]

 

© Webster 1913

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