Let’s go back to the beginning. The first real Blondie movie was made in 1938. (The name “Blondie” appears in various forms from Blondie of the Follies in 1932 to Bye Bye Blondie in 2010, neither of which had anything to do with our Blondie). The character started as a comic strip drawn by Chic Young in 1930. Her name was Blondie Boopadoop until 1933 when she married Dagwood Bumstead.
This feels really silly to write, but it is all true.
Enter Penny Singleton (1908 – 2003). She is the quintessential Blondie, and Arthur Lake (1905 – 1987) was perfect as Dagwood. Penny wasn’t really a blonde, but she remained that way after she got the role. (She was still blonde when I met her in the 1980s). They made 28 Blondie films from 1938 to 1950. Let’s look at the rest.
Husband-and-wife actors Kathleen and Gene Lockhart are both in Blondie. They worked together some 21 times. As I mentioned before, they are the parents of June Lockhart, famous for Lassie on TV. The three of them worked together on one film, A Christmas Carol in 1938.
Child actor Larry Simms (b. 1934) played Baby Dumpling in the Blondie series. He was also in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), and a few other films. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information online about him. However, 28 of his 36 films were from the Blondie series.
Jonathan Hale (1891 – 1966) played Mr. Dithers, Dagwood’s boss. He has 244 roles listed on IMDb starting in movies in 1934 before moving into TV, with his last listed role on Kraft Suspense Theater in 1965. He was in in 1936 with Rosina Lawrence. While he was making the Blondie series he also had a recurring role in the Saint series. He was a hard worker, making over 80 films throughout the 1940s.
The fun part about doing my blog is looking at a name you know nothing about and checking out their filmography. For example, Mr. Beazley, the mailman was played by Irving Bacon (1893 – 1965). He is another gold mine to be explored. Bacon started making films in 1923 with the Keystone Studio and Mack Sennett. He made the switch to talkies and eventually to television. IMDb lists 515 roles to his credit. Yes, 515! He was in a dozen or so Blondie films, but look for him also in nine Frank Capra feature films. I recognize his face, but I doubt I ever heard his name.
Movies of this era are rich with the best in Bit Actors!
Allen Hefner has been interested in movies since an early age, attending the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA for every Saturday Matinee during his youth, when 50 cents bought you a two-reeler (usually The Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy), a few cartoons, and a feature film. As a member of The Sons of the Desert,he was privileged to enjoy the company of many film buffs, and to meet many stars of the past. Write to him anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit Bit Part Actors.