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Edgar Bergen

Edgar Bergen

Jan. 22, 1974: Comedian-ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and longtime friend Martimer Snerd entertain students at Earl Warren High School in Downey. This photo was published in the Jan. 24, 1974, Los Angeles Times.

In an earlier Nov. 10, 1963, Los Angeles Times article, Charles E. Davis wrote:

Charlie McCarthy’s Irish features were carved some 40 years ago and the inspiration was supplied by a corner newsboy in Chicago.

Bergen worked at getting an education at Northwestern University and at the same time worked with his newsboy dummy in Chautauqua and vaudeville.

In the early 30s Bergen started to get bookings into some of the country’s top night clubs – such as the Chez Paree in Chicago and the Helen Morgan Club in New York.

He decided that a newsboy dummy was too corny so he asked Esquire Magazine for permission to recreate their “Mr. Esky”  figure and use him in the act.

Bergen got a tentative approval from the magazine, but then permission was withdrawn. He solved his problem by making a sophisticated man-about-town out of Charlie.

Charlie lost his newsboy rags and emerged with monocle, top hat and tails.

“I got my chance on radio,” Bergen remembers, “because Elsa Maxwell was giving a big party at the Waldorf Astoria for Noel Coward. She hired me to heckle Coward.

“The Rudy Vallee radio program wanted Elsa to go on the show and tell how she gave a party. I had been part of her party, so they wanted me to go on too.”

“The people in charge of the program called me after the show and asked how I would like to do another one. I said maybe, for an extra $100. I got $50 more.”

Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy were so popular that they were kept on the Rudy Vallee program for 13 weeks.

In April, 1937, Bergen began his own show from Hollywood. It was a 20-year run during which the program was on the top of the ratings list, or close to the top.

Edgar Bergen has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – for TV, Film and Radio. For more check out this Times Hollywood Star Walk Edgar Bergen page.

Nov. 10, 1963: Edgar Bergen seeks approval of Charlie McCarthy for new dummy, fisherman named Lars Lindquist. This photo was published in the Nov. 11, 1963, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive/UCLA

1 Comment

  1. February 12, 2013, 12:08 pm

    Ewwww… shag carpeting! What were we thinking back then?!?

    By: 70s Child

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