Lonesome George Gobel

By Evelyn Goble Steen

When I was a girl and watched "Lonesome George Gobel" on television, my father told me he believed George was a distant cousin. My father and my Uncle Scott looked similar to George. Lonesome George's stature and humor was similar to that of the Goble men in my family. I believed it!

I've heard from many of you that you heard the same stories. So several years ago we went looking for proof. Thanks to Terence T. Quirke, Ph.D., CG, we found an answer about the ancestry of the famous comedian. Terence retrieved George Gobel's death certificate. His father was Herman Goebel from Austria and his mother was Lillian MacDonald born in Illinois. George was born May 20, 1919 in Chicago, Illinois.

"Little Georgie Gobel" made his debut at the age of 11 singing on the LWS Barn Dance radio revue in his native Chicago. He continued to sing and play the guitar on radio and at county fairs and appeared regularly on "The Tom Mix Show."

He married Alice Humecki in about 1940 whom he lovingly referred to as "spooky old Alice". His career continued uninterrupted by World War II. He joined the Army Air Corps and served as a B-26 pilot instructor but entertained his Army buddies with the humor that he began to introduce into his singing and guitar act. After the war he began to appear in night clubs and hotels. His break came after 40 appearances on the "Garry Moore Show" and seven on NBC's "Saturday Night Revue."

"The George Gobel Show" premiered on NBC in 1954 and became an instant hit. He won an Emmy in 1954 for Outstanding New Personality. He also made numerous Broadway appearances including "Three Men on a Horse" and "Let It Ride." Younger audiences will remember Mr. Gobel as a regular on "Hollywood Squares" and "The Tonight Show" in the 1970s and early 1980s.

In 1954 he moved his family to California where he lived until his death. He developed heart disease and died due to complications five weeks after bypass surgery to the major artery in his left leg on February 24, 1991 in Encino Hospital, Los Angeles Co., Encino, CA. He was 71 years old.

During his 60 year career he was a radio actor; a comedian; hosted his own variety show (The George Gobel Show); was a country singer; a television, movie, and stage actor; was a panelist on game shows; and a producer of Leave It to Beaver. He was nicknamed "Little Georgie Gobel" and later "Lonesome George." He starred in Harper Valley PTA as Mayor Otis Harper Jr. He appeared on the Eddie Fisher Show and was a regular on Hollywood Squares. His favorite saying was "Well I'll be a dirty bird."

When George Gobel passed away he left his wife of 40 years, Alice (Humecki) Gobel; one son, Gregg Gobel; and 2 daughters: Georgia (Gobel) Bryan and Leslie (Gobel) McIntosh and 3 grandchildren. His family is listed in our "Unconnected" database.

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This page last updated on March 15, 2001