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Phil Leslie, 79; Wrote Lines for ‘Fibber McGee’

Phil Leslie, a writer who was the mainstay of radio’s “Fibber McGee and Molly” show in its final years and who also brought a maid named “Beulah” and a windbag called “Major Hoople” to radio, died Friday at his home in Tarzana.

His son, Phil Leslie Jr., said he had cancer and died peacefully at age 79.

He was working as an usher and manager in St. Louis theaters and was mailing scripts to Hollywood when radio comedian Al Pierce asked him to come to California to write his show. But Pierce soon retired and the young writer was forced to return to free-lancing, this time for Roy Rogers, Bob Hope, Cliff Arquette and others.

In 1943 Don Quinn, who had created “Fibber” for Jim and Marian Jordan, left the show and Leslie became his heir, continuing as a writer until the show faded away in the late 1950s. “Beulah” was a spin-off of the “Fibber” show and “Hoople” developed from the comic strip of that name.

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Leslie remembered the experience with the Jordans as “the 13 happiest years of my writing life.”

He later wrote for television, including “Dennis the Menace,” “Hazel,” “The Farmer’s Daughter,” “The Brady Bunch,” “The Lucy Show” and other shows.

In addition to his son he is survived by his wife, Helen, and three daughters. Rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. Sunday and a funeral Mass said at 10 a.m. Monday, both at St. Mel’s Roman Catholic Church in Woodland Hills.


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