Weekly News via Email
   Set as homepage | Add to favorites | Customer Service | Subscribe Now | Place an Ad | Contact Us | Sitemap Thursday, 10.02.2014
Classifieds
News Archive
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
 1  2  3  4  5  6  7
 8  9  10  11  12  13  14
 15  16  17  18  19  20  21
 22  23  24  25  26  27  28
 29  30  31
Online Extras
Site Services
Around Bend
Outdoor Fun
Travel Info
Shop Local




Members Of



Poll: Today's Live Poll
Email to a friend | Print this | PDF version | Comments (0 posted) 
  Blogger |   del.icio.us |   digg |   newsvine

Mar 27,2009
Contemporary Collectibles: Charlie McCarthy was no dummy
by Linda Rosenkrantz

With the possible exception of Pinocchio, Charlie McCarthy was and remains the most famous wooden character in pop culture history. The elegantly attired, top-hatted and tuxedoed, wisecracking ventriloquist's dummy manipulated by Edgar Bergen had a unique career spanning 56 years, moving from vaudeville to radio — where he was one of the biggest stars of all time — to movies to television to night clubs.

Interested in magic as a child, Bergen purchased a book on ventriloquism for a 25 cents and began training himself in "voice diffusion." While still in high school, not satisfied with a store-bought dummy, he sketched the kind of head he had in mind — modeled after a tough, local Irish newspaper boy — and commissioned a Chicago carpenter named Theodore Mack to carve it out of white pine, while Bergen himself constructed the body. The name Bergen gave to the dummy was a combination of those of the newsboy (Charlie) and the carver (lengthened to McCarthy). Bergen continued to practice and perfect his skills, to the delight of his schoolmates and teachers.

His first professional performances were in vaudeville, while he also appeared in a few early one-reel movie shorts. His act was seen at a party for Noel Coward, who recommended him for an engagement at New York's famous Rainbow Room, where it was seen by two producers who booked it for a guest appearance on Rudy Vallee's radio show, by which time two other colorful characters, the dimwitted bumpkin Mortimer Snerd and the man-hungry Effie Klinker, had joined the cast. This appearance was so successful that Bergen and Charlie soon had their own show, called "The Chase and Sanborn Hour," which would air under various sponsors from Dec. 17, 1937 to July 1, 1956.

Charlie evolved into a complex character, part demanding child/teenager, part woman-chasing, cigarette-smoking playboy. Comic icon W.C. Fields appeared on the first 18 shows, and their insult exchanges were one of the major draws of the program. Their "feud" carried over to the big screen in a 1939 feature film called "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man." Other high-profile guests to appear on "The Chase and Sanborn Hour" included Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers, Clark Gable and almost every other star in Hollywood.

By 1939, it was estimated that "The Chase and Sanborn Hour was heard in about one-third of the homes in the nation, the largest radio audience in the country. Charlie was so popular with both adults and children that it was inevitable that there would be an avalanche of character merchandise. Much of it, especially items made in the 1930s, is of considerable value on today's collectible market. (Even at the height of the Great Depression, these tie-ins were bringing in about $75,000 a year).

One of the most desirable items is the Charlie McCarthy doll made in 1937 by the Effanbee Doll Co., with composition head, hands and feet, and a cloth body, as well as several other dolls and ventriloquist dummies. Other prime collectibles are an 8-inch tin wind-up toy called "The McCarthy Strut," the figure moving along as his mouth opens and closes, made by Louis Marx and Co.; and several novelty wind-up cars also made by Marx, complete with "whoopee action and spinning heads; and a 1938 radio with Charlie sitting nonchalantly on its Bakelite case.

Some of other items include a 1938 premium game called Charlie McCarthy's Radio party, with cardboard cutouts of Charlie and Bergen, as well as program regulars Nelson Eddy, Don Ameche and Dorothy Lamour; another game called Charlie McCarthy's Game of Topper; and a card game, "Edgar Bergen's Charlie McCarthy Question and Answer Game." Other collectibles include Big Little Books, coloring, comics and paper dolls, and a picture book titled "A Day with Charlie McCarthy," published by Whitman, and promotional spoons and banks.

Linda Rosenkrantz has edited Auction magazine and authored 18 books, including "Cool Names for Babies" and "The Baby Name Bible" (St. Martin's Press).

Copyright 2009 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
1756 times read

Related news
Contemporary Collectibles: Hang on Snoopy - Beagles now rule by Linda_Rosenkrantz posted on Feb 29,2008

Contemporary Collectibles: Nancy, Sluggo and Aunt Fritzi by Linda_Rosenkrantz posted on Apr 04,2008


Contemporary Collectibles: Enthusiasts aim for Red Ryder BB guns by Linda_Rosenkrantz posted on Jan 04,2008

Book Review: ‘Schulz and Peanuts – A Biography’ by John Wilkens, CNS posted on Nov 16,2007

Did you enjoy this article? Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00 (total 16 votes)

Market Information
Breaking News
Most Popular
Most Commented
Featured Columnist
Horoscope Guide
Aquarius Aquarius Libra Libra
Aries Aries Pisces Pisces
Cancer Cancer Sagittarius Sagittarius
Capricorn Capricorn Scorpio Scorpio
Gemini Gemini Taurus Taurus
Leo Leo Virgo Virgo
Local Attractions
Bend Visitors & Convention Bureau
Bend Visitors & Convention Bureau

Mt. Bachelor Resort
Mt. Bachelor Resort

Les Schwab Ampitheater
Les Schwab Ampitheater

Deschutes County Fairgrounds
Deschutes County
Fairgrounds

Tower Theatre
Tower Theatre

The High Desert Museum

Advertisements



Deschutes County

Google  
  Web    BendWeekly.com
© 2006 Bend Weekly News
A .Com Endeavors, Inc. Company.
All Rights Reserved. Terms under
which this service is provided to you.
Please read our Privacy Policy. Contact us.
Bend Weekly News & Event Guide Online
   Save the Net
Advertisement
External sites open in new window,
not endorsed by BendWeekly.com
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
Add to Google Add to MSN Add to My AOL
What are RSS headlines?