Aside from Gale Gordon's Mr. Mooney (The Lucy Show), he may be classic TV's most frustrated boss. But Don DeFore (1913-1993) told a reporter in 1965 that he loved playing beleaguered George Baxter (a/k/a "Mr. B") on Hazel.
"I'd like to write a book about what Hazel has done for me," DeFore said. "For the first time the show gave me comedy with a follow through. She's perfect for me because I'm always on the hook of exasperation, and that's the kind of comedy I like." It also gave him a chance to work closely with one of America's finest actresses, Tony and Oscar winner Shirley Booth. DeFore admired the versatility she brought to her sitcom role: "I keep wondering how we can play another scene in that dining room that's different and every time she comes up with something new."
After a lengthy and successful film career, DeFore was used to public recognition, but Hazel took it to a new level. "It's such a different public. You meet strangers and because you come into their homes, they act as if they know you personally. I'm Mr. B, not Don DeFore, and it's a nice, warm feeling."
Although he didn't know it at the time of the interview, DeFore's work as Mr. B was near its end. After the show's fourth season, NBC canceled Hazel. Trying to spruce up the show to sell it to another network, Screen Gems executives introduced a new family for Hazel to serve, meaning that DeFore and co-star Whitney Blake (Dorothy) lost their jobs. The show did win a fifth season, moving to CBS, but many fans still prefer the original cast.
You can read more about this classic sitcom in my book Shirley Booth: A Biography and Career Record, which includes a detailed episode guide. If you appreciate DeFore's work in film and television, you might also visit his fan club page on Facebook.