The Blondie Comic Strip in Films, Radio & Television
By: Carol Lynn Scherling
Publisher: BearManor Media
Pub Date: May 31, 2010
Early one Sunday morning, I was awakening by parent's laughter, who was watching a Blondie movie on AMC (Back when there were no commercials on the channel.). I'm not exactly a morning person, so by time I got up I only would get a glimpse of the ending of each Blondie movie that aired every Sunday. Eventually, AMC quit playing the movies on Sundays. A few years later, during the summer, I happened to find one of the movies in the TV Guide (Yes, the TV Guide once listed what was on in the mornings!) and I recorded it onto an old VHS tape. I would check every week, but I never could find the movies being aired again until around Christmas Eve when they aired a marathon. I remember it clearly as it was the start of my Christmas vacation from school, and I just happened to have a touch of the flu while I was going back and forth from two rooms to record the movies on two VCRs. Over the years, the VHS tapes have become almost unplayable, but I did buy the ten Blondie movies that were released on DVD. I only wish they would release the complete franchise and of course have each one remastered.
A few weeks ago, I happened to Google "Blondie and Dagwood" and the book titled Blondie Goes to Hollywood came up. To my surprise an author by the name Carol Lynn Scherling had written a book chronicling the years that the Blondie comic strip was turned into 28 films, a long-running radio show, and several short-lived television series. Since I'm a blogger/reviewer, I emailed the publisher about a review copy. To my surprise, I received an email the next day informing me that they would be glad to send me a free review copy.
The book opens up with an introduction from Will Hutchins, the last actor to pay Dagwood Bumstead, and goes right into chapter one that details the early development of the film franchise at Columbia Pictures. From 1938 to 1950, there were twenty-eight movies released all starring Penny Singleton as Blondie (1908-2003), Author Lake as Dagwood Bumstead (1905-1987), Larry Simms (1934-present) as Baby Dumplings/Alexander Bumstead, and who could forget the beloved Bumstead dog, Daisy. Later, Majorie Ann Mutchie (1939-present) joined the cast as Cookie Bumstead. Other co-stars throughout the series run were Jonathan Hale (1891-1966) as Mr. Dithers, Danny Mummert (1934-?) as Alvin Fuddle, and Jerome Cowan (1987-1972) as Mr. Radcliffe.
Then the author gives a detailed synopsis on each movie with a few facts thrown in at the end of each. I was unaware of that there was ever a Blondie radio show that aired from 1939 to 1950, in which Author Lake returned as Dagwood for the entire run and Penny Singleton returned as Blondie for the first several seasons. Author Lake would once again return as Dagwood for the short-lived 1957 Blondie television series. Another attempt at a Blondie television series occurred in 1968 with Will Hutchins as Dagwood and Patricia Harty as Blondie, but was cancelled.
The author must have spent an incredible amount of time researching about the Blondie franchise as there has been little known information about the production of the films. Throughout the book there are many wonderful photos of the actors, films stills, and publicity photos that have never seen before. Did you know that Daisy was actually a male? And did you know that Daisy briefly had a line of dog food? The Bumsteads last appeared in the 1989 cartoon Second Wedding Workout, and considering the comic strip is still in publication, I'm surprised there hasn't been an attempt at some kind of remake, whether in film or on television. I smiled the entire time I read Blondie Goes to Hollywood as I have always enjoyed the Bumstead quirky adventures!
About the Author:
Carol Lynn Scherling is the author of Blondie Goes To Hollywood and contributed for Films of The Golden Age magazine. She has a degree in art and business. Being a viewer and reader of old films and classic television, Carol Lynn decided to write about it, as well.