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Next on the Program is Blooooonnnnnnnnnnnnndie! February 7, 2007

Posted by William Spear in >> Next on the Program, >> Radio Drama.

During July of 1939, Eddie Cantor’s Camel Caravan show on CBS took its summer vacation expecting to return in the fall. In its slot was aired a program whose roots were in Chic Young’s comic strip and feature films. From the first time the replacement show’s Announcer came on, audiences were treated to dizzy comedy.

. . .

ANNOUNCER:  Ah-ah-ah-ah! Don’t touch that dial! Listen to–

DAGWOOD:  Blooooonnnnnnnnnnnnndie!

ANNOUNCER:  Ah, yes. Dagwood Bumstead is home.

. . .

And Blondie was on the air.

Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead raised their children – Alexander and Cookie, suffered through the tirades of Dagwood’s boss, Mr. Dithers, played bridge with their neighbors, the Woodleys, and entertained the nation from “the small house in Shady Lane Avenue.”

Part of the show’s charm was Dagwood and his exploits. More or less an architect and adding numbers with lightning speed, he was forever in trouble with Mr. Dithers. Or, he was always sneaking out with his friends late at night and getting caught by Blondie. Radio Mirror declared Dagwood’s self-made mishaps made listeners realize “human frailty is a universal thing.”

Listeners to the radio show were treated to the same antics as in the comic strip such as Dagwood’s massive sandwiches, midnight snacks, and Daisy, the family dog, chasing her tail.

Arthur Lake played Dagwood opposite Penny Singleton, Ann Rutherford, Alice White and Patricia Van Cleve as Blondie.

Leone Ledoux played the pretoddler roles of Alexander and Cookie; Ledoux specialized in playing such roles. Tommy Cook, Larry Sims, Bobby Ellis, and Jeffrey Silver played Alexander. Marlene Aames, Norma Jean Nilsson, and Joan Rae played Cookie.

Hanley Stafford played J. C. Dithers, Dagwood’s boss and Elvia Allman was Mrs. Dithers (Cora). Frank Nelson and Harold Peary played Herb Woodley, the Bumsteads’ neighbor.

Ashmead Scott wrote and produced. Johnny Greene and William Moore wrote. Sound effects were performed by Ray Erlenborn and Parker Cornel; Music was by Harry Lubin and Billy Artz. Directors were Eddie Pola, Don Bernard, and Glenhall Taylor.

As if the actors, directors, musicians, sound effects artists, and writers weren’t enough, the show had the talents of some of the finest announcers ever: Bill Goodwin, Howard Petrie, and Harlow Wilcox.

The Camel Caravan didn’t come back in the fall of 1939 but for the next 11 years, listeners were treated to “Blooooonnnnnnnnnnnnndie!”

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