She was the best-selling author of two books in the 1940s: Mr. and Mrs. Cugat and Outside Eden. Both books are collections of humorous short stories about married life, with the principal characters been George and Liz Cugat. George is a banker, and Liz is the young woman who has finally snared the most eligible bachelor in town. The humor revolves around Liz’s inability to balance her checking account and stay within her budget while trying to help her banker husband advance in his career. In reality, Ceilan Rorick was a banker in the Spitzer-Rorick Trust and Savings Bank of Toledo, and Isabel Scott Rorick was the daughter of one of Toledo’s most prominent families.
Although both books were bestsellers when they were released, today they are remembered largely as a footnote in television history. They were first turned into a movie in 1942, Are Husbands Necessary?, starring Ray Milland. (In one collection of reviews of movies on videotape, it’s summarized as “Was this film necessary?”) I have yet to find a copy of the film or to see it turn up on television, but would love to see it some day now that I’ve read the books.
They were next turned into a successful radio serial, My Favorite Husband, starring Lucille Ball and Richard Denning, which ran from 1948 to 1951. Supporting players in the cast included Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet. CBS then became interested in transferring the serial to the new medium of television, and the network was willing to hire the entire cast and creative team. Lucille Ball, however, wanted to cast her husband in the t.v. series. Because Desi Arnaz would not have been believable as a Midwestern banker, the whole premise of the show was radically revised — and I Love Lucy was born.
My Favorite Husband did make it to CBS with a different cast. It ran from 1953 to 1955 and was sponsored by Frigidaire.
Both of Isabel Scott Rorick’s books are easily obtainable from used book sites and eBay. Although dated in some places (some characters never seem to be without a highball in their hands), they are quite entertaining and worth searching out.
© Carol Ann Hilton. Unauthorized use prohibited.