Who is Gordon Ford based on? One fun thing about watching Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is that you never know what’s actually a part of 1960s history—versus something wild Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino cooked up. Is Midge based on a real person? Did that airplane crash Abe speaks about in the third episode actually happen? Did the Gaslight Café actually exist? Well, the latest jumble of historical accuracy comes from Midge’s latest career quest: The Gordon Ford Show. Real or not real?
If you need a refresher, allow me to catch you up to speed. Gordon Ford, portrayed by Reid Scott, is the host of the fictional Gordon Ford Show. Although his presence really comes to a head in the newest season of MMM, The Gordon Ford Show was first introduced in Season 4—first when Susie secures a performance for Sophie Lennon on the show, and later when Midge seemingly realizes it’s the next step for her career.
So, where did inspiration for Gordon Ford come from, and was he a real late night host? Women’s Health has all the deets.
Who is Gordon Ford based on?
Johnny Carson is the model for Gordon Ford in the television series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. From 1962 through 1992, Carson hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. In American history, he was among the most well-liked and significant hosts of late-night talk shows.
Both Johnny Carson and Gordon Ford are well-known for their enduring success in late-night television, as well as their keen humor and audience-connecting abilities. Their competition with other talk show hosts is another thing that makes them well-known. In the show, Dick Cavett was Johnny Carson’s rival, and Jack Paar is Gordon Ford’s rival.
The show’s creators have acknowledged that Carson served as an inspiration for Gordon Ford. They aimed to develop a persona that could embodied the best aspects of late-night television while still being endearing and flawed.
A condensed form of the response is as follows:
Johnny Carson, a well-liked and significant late-night talk show presenter noted for his keen wit, audience-connecting skills, and sustained success in television, served as the model for Gordon Ford.
He’s probably based on Johnny Carson.
Okay, yes. Johnny Carson does technically already exist in the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel universe, but the similarities between Gordon Ford cannot be overlooked. Like Gordon Ford, Johnny Carson was the host of his own show with his name in it: NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Yup, the exact same one that Jimmy Fallon hosts now. Carson had the lead late night spot for 30 years from 1962 to 1992.
ICYDK, The Tonight Show was a big deal for comedians back in the day, so it makes sense that Midge wanted to work on her universe’s version of it. If you were a budding comedian, getting invited on the show was a huge honor, and getting a laugh from Johnny himself could launch your career. Johnny played a huge role in the success of comedians like David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Ellen Degeneres. This also fuels the “Gordon Ford is Johnny Carson” theory, because Susie worked really hard to secure Sophie Lennon a spot on his show in MMM Season 4.
The biggest hint that Gordon Ford is based on Johnny Carson, though, is his real life and MMM rival: Jack Paar. Johnny was technically Jack Paar’s successor on The Tonight Show, but quickly took over the limelight, and won over the audience. In the 1970s, Jack Paar returned to the late night scene on ABC with Jack Paar Tonite. Amid this return, Paar quipped that he built Carson’s career to compete against him.
“I’m not kidding myself. The situation is that of a man coming back and competing with himself—the organization I created, and the odds, are against me,” Parr told The New York Times in 1973. “But I think I know more now, and I think I’m funnier now. Besides, my humor is basically more philosophical than the other guy’s—can you prove to me that Carson has ever read a book? I mean, I want to see his library card.”
The writer of the piece editorialized that Paar’s comment came off as only “half” joking.
Gordon Ford could also be based off of Tennessee Ernie Ford.
The alternate theory for Gordon Ford is that he is based off of Tennessee Ernie Ford, who hosted what was often simply called The Ford Show (which actually gets its name because it was created by the Ford Motor Company) from 1956 to 1961 on NBC, per IMDb.
Despite the similarities with networks and name, Tennessee Ernie Ford was more than a tad bit different from Gordon. Tennessee Ernie Ford was a singer and comedian, and his show was more of a variety-style (including music and segments), rather than a late night show. He did, however, feature plenty of guests—similar to The Gordon Ford Show.
The Ford Show was also filmed in Burbank, California, while MMM’s The Gordon Ford Show was filmed in New York. Fun fact: The Ford Show also debuted Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts animated cartoons, according to Open Culture.
Whether he’s Johnny Carson or Tennessee Ernie Ford, you can watch Gordon Ford’s impact on the season of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, streaming now on Amazon Prime.
Is Mrs Maisel based on Joan Rivers?
Mrs. Maisel is indeed modeled after Joan Rivers. The show’s creators, Daniel Palladino and Amy Sherman-Palladino, have acknowledged that Rivers served as an inspiration for them while developing the Midge Maisel character.
Stand-up comedians Rivers and Maisel are both Jewish women from New York City. In addition, they are renowned for their keen sense of humor, candid demeanor, and capacity for audience interaction.
It’s crucial to remember that Mrs. Maisel is a made-up persona and not an exact replica of Joan Rivers. The Palladinos have stated that they wanted to create a character that was distinct and her own person, thus they took artistic license with the role.
There are a lot of parallels between Joan Rivers and Mrs. Maisel despite their variances. These two powerful, self-reliant ladies dismantled obstacles for other female comics. Additionally, they both invented stand-up comedy.
Renowned comedian Joan Rivers is regarded as one of the finest female comedians of all time. Although Mrs. Maisel is a fictional character, a true legend served as her inspiration.
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