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Letters & Miscellaneous Writings

"Letters from Mamma" - Humorist Cliff Arquette, a.k.a. Charley Weaver appeared on a number of radio & television programs in the 1950s and 1960s.

Cliff Arquette as Charley Weaver

One of his routines was to read stories (Letters) that came from Mamma Weaver who lived in Charlie's fictional hometown of Mt.Idy (pop. 308). The humorous letters were filled with homespun sentiments which were corny, clean and lots of fun.

For example, "I was going to send you that $5 I owe you but I see I have already sealed the envelope."; "It is an ill wind that blows from the stockyard.; and "We had a fire in the bathroom. Luckily, it didn't spread to the house."

Cliff Arquette masqueraded as Mamma Weaver on a number of installments of THE TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD SHOW.  On the June 18, 1959 show Charley convinces Ernie to telephone Mamma Weaver in Mt. Idy. On later episodes, Mamma Weaver visits the show. On the October 27, 1960 show Mamma Weaver wins a dream date with teen idol Tab Hunter as well as the chance to appear as a contestant on QUEEN FOR A DAY with Jack Bailey.

Cliff Arquette as Charley Weaver appears on 'The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show' - June 18, 1959

Ernie Ford Invites Mamma Weaver to Visit His Show

   

Cliff Arquette Masquerades as Mamma Weaver on 'The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show' - October 27, 1960

Cliff Arquette Masquerades as Mamma Weaver on 'The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show' - February 12, 1959

Cliff Arquette as Mamma Weaver with Tennessee Ernie Ford


The following is transcribed from a segment of THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW when Charley Weaver shared one of his infamous "Letters from Mamma".

Merv: Did you bring me a letter?
Charley: Oh, I got a letter from Mamma. She wanted you to hear all the news.
Merv: I can't wait. It's been months since I've heard from her.
Charley: She wrote it long hand, you know. Oh, she's got a hand this long. She says...
Mamma: "Dear Peyton."
Charley: Mom always wanted me to have my own place.
Mamma: "Things are fine in Mt. Idy. Leonard Box has quit his job at the Eagle Laundry."
Merv: Who?
Charley: Leonard Box.
Merv: Oh, Yeah
Charley: You remember Leonard. Little bitty fellow. Had a very small head. I don't know why but he did.
Mamma: "He quit his job at the Eagle Laundry. He says there's no future in washing eagles."
Charley: [looks off stage] Hello Robby. How are ya?  How 'd you get home the other night. Just laid there all night, huh?
Mamma: "However, he got another job the same day, Leonard did. He started to work at the Mt. Idy massage parlor but the manager fired him at the end of the first day. Seems he kept rubbing people the wrong way."
Charley: Not funny but very quaint.
Mamma: Ludlow Bean, came over to our house last night.
Merv: Who? Is he related to Box?
Charley: No, I don't believe so. He's related to Bean, I guess.
Mamma: "He was limping something terrible. He told us that the night before he was stiff in six joints. Your father told him he oughta keep out of those joints."
Merv: I don't know what your Mamma's been  watchin'
Mamma: "Grandma Ogg is still trying to get Grandpa to shave off his beard. It's so long that it's always getting him into trouble. Like last week, he was running for a street car and he ran right up his beard and kicked all of his teeth out."
Charley: They weren't even paid for yet!
Mamma: "His beard is so big and bushy that Grandma has to kiss him through a straw. Your father and I ran into Elsie Krack yesterday."
Charley: Remember Elsie?
Merv: Yes, that's Leonard Box's sister?
Charley: A little bitty woman. Tiny little thing. She's got this beautiful red hair growing way down her back. None on her head but all...
Merv: That's quit a family. There's Bean, Box, Krack and ahh....
Charley: And there's more coming. Let's see...
Mamma:

"My but that girl is ugly. She just can't get a man. She's been stood up more times than a bowling pin. And turned down more times than a bed spread. We told her she oughta send her picture to the Lonely Hearts Club, and she said, she did send her picture to the Lonely Heart Club but they sent it back. They said, they weren't that lonely."

"Well, Son, I must close now and go help your father. He's in the hospital, again. Poor dad. He's suffering from 108 lacerations, 99 contusions, 87 bumps and 52 nasty bruises. It seems he took a full swing on a golf ball in a tile bathroom...naked. Love, Mamma."

Charley Reads a 'Letter from Momma'

TRIVIA NOTE: In some sources, the spelling of Cliff Arquette's character is inconsistent ("Charlie" and Charley") The preferred spelling is "Charley." However, on his records and other merchandise the "Charlie" name is seen. As well, the spelling of "Momma" and "Mamma" can be found in a variety of sources.

Charley Weaver's stories were published in the late 1950s and early 1960s. His first book was "Charley Weaver's 'Letters from Mamma'" by Cliff Arquette. Introduction by Jack Paar. Published by John C. Winston, 1959. 64 pages. This book became the 6th non-fiction best seller in 1959.

The sequel was entitled "Things Are Fine In Mount Idy / More Letters From Mamma" by Cliff Arquette, aka Charley Weaver. Illustrated by Bill Turner: Holt Rinehart, and Winston, 1960. Hardback 53 pages, b&w illustrations.

In late 1989, there appeared "Here's Charley Weaver, Mamma and Mt. Idy" (which included selections from his recordings and books). Published by Lincoln-Herndon Press; 193 pages.

Born December 28, 1905, Clifford "Cliff" Arquette was the grandfather of actors Rosanna, Patricia and David Arquette. He was a popular feature on the game show THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES from 1966-74. He regularly performed his Charley Weaver character on THE JACK PAAR SHOW and THE TONIGHT SHOW from 1958-62.

To pay tribute to Cliff Arquette, the town of Mount Ida, Arkansas celebrated an 'Annual Charley Weaver Day' every June until 2000 (renamed "The Good Ole Days" festival). Cliff Arquette died of a heart attack on September 23, 1974.


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