Walter Tetley: Kid Who Never Grew Up

Walter Tetley left who portrayed Leroy on The Great Gildersleeve is shown with Harold Peary who played the Great Gildersleeve and Louise Erickson who was his sister Marjorie on the program.

Walter Tetley never was big in stature nor did he have the voice of an adult during his long career in old time radio, television and movies but he will always be remembered for his portrayal of  Leroy Forrester on the Great Gildersleeve from 1941 to 1954 which aired on the NBC radio network.

Tetley was born June 2, 1915 in New York City with the name of  Walter Campbell Tetzlaff  and died 60 years later in Los Angeles, California on September 4, 1975.

He appeared in many movies in various roles for a shorter person like a telegram boy, an elevator operator, page boy, messenger boy, jockey, delivery boy and newsboy in 40’s movies.

It is thought that Tetley had a hormonal problem causing him to never develop an adult voice and never have the height of a normal adult.

Leroy is featured in this September 16, 1945 show Leroy Suspended From School . Leroy thinks being suspended means extra time to play but his uncle has other ideas like cleaning out the garage.

The show can be found as the No. 134 show on this list at

When old time radio as we knew it died on September 30, 1962 with Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and  Suspense airing their last shows on that date Tetley seldom appeared on radio again except when he could be heard in Hollywood Radio Theatre. He appeared in 841 old time radio programs according to the best website for information on old time radio shows and personalities.

Tetley later would do voice over work in cartoons including Bullwinkle and the Dudley Do-Right shows on television.

He would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair after a 1971 motorcycle accident and died four years later in 1975.

Life wasn’t easy for Tetley who ended his career doing the voice of Timmy in A Christmas Story cartoon in 1972 but he worked for 38 years in the entertainment industry and was known for his comic delivery in both The Great Gildersleeve and the Phil Harris Show on which he played Julius Abruzzio.

It has been 35 years since the death of Tetley but his memory lives on in many old time radio shows which still can be heard on cassette tapes, records and MP3 CD’s which can hold as many as 50 shows on one CD for a nominal price. has 507 Great Gildersleeve shows for sale on six CD’s for only $11.00 including shipping which will give listeners over 250 hours of listening pleasure.

Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

6 thoughts on “Walter Tetley: Kid Who Never Grew Up”

  1. Through tracing my family tree in the last year I have discovered that Walter is my second cousin once removed.

    His grandfather was the sister of my great grandmother.

    It is great to read more about him here and listen to him on the links to his radio show on this page.

    1. Thank you Angus for sharing that you are a relative of Walter Tetley. It is sad that he only could mostly do voice jobs after television became popular. He had one of the most distinct voices in radio. Loved the interplay between Walter and his radio uncle Gildersleeve.

      Walter was a comedic genius in my book delivering his lines as well as anyone in oldtime radio.

    2. Angus, if you can read this, Please get in touch. I’m working on the 2nd edition of the Tetley book now. Thanks.

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