Penny Singleton (born Mariana Dorothy McNulty, September 15, 1908 – November 12, 2003) was an American actress and labor leader. During her 60-year career, Singleton appeared as the comic-strip heroine Blondie Bumstead in a series of 28 motion pictures from 1938 until 1950 and the popular Blondie radio program from 1939 until 1950. Singleton also provided the voice of Jane Jetson in the animated series The Jetsons from 1962–1963.
Penny Singleton in 1938
Mariana Dorothy McNulty
September 15, 1908
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||November 12, 2003 95) (aged|
Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.
|Resting place||San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, Los Angeles|
|Occupation||Actress, labor leader|
Laurence Scroggs Singleton
(m. 1937; div. 1939)
(m. 1941; died 1963)
Behind the scenes, Singleton served 2 terms as president of the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA), and testified before a Senate subcommittee in 1962 on the union's treatment of women variety workers.
Singleton was born in Philadelphia, the daughter of Bernard J. "Benny" McNulty and Mary Dorothy McNulty. Her father was a newspaperman. Singleton began performing professionally as a child, and only completed sixth grade in her schooling.
Singleton sang at a silent movie theater, and toured in vaudeville as part of an act called "The Kiddie Kabaret". She sang and danced with Milton Berle, whom she knew since childhood, and actor Gene Raymond, and appeared on Broadway in Jack Benny's The Great Temptations. She also toured in nightclubs and roadshows of plays and musicals.
Singleton appeared as a nightclub singer in After the Thin Man, credited as Dorothy McNulty. She was cast opposite Arthur Lake (as Dagwood) in the feature film Blondie in 1938, based on the comic strip by Chic Young. They repeated their roles on a radio comedy beginning in 1939 and in guest appearances on other radio shows. As Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead, they proved so popular that a succession of 27 sequels was made from 1938 until 1950, with the radio show ending the same year. Singleton's husband Robert Sparks produced 12 of these sequels. Also in 1950, she had her own program, The Penny Singleton Show, on NBC radio.
Singleton held top billing in Go West, Young Lady (1941), over her male co-star, Glenn Ford. Only two other female stars (Dorothy Page and Jane Frazee) were top-billed singing cowgirls at the time. She provided the voice of Jane Jetson in the 1962–63 animated series, The Jetsons.
Singleton was active in union affairs, as a vocal member of the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA). She was elected president of the AGVA in 1958-1959, and again in 1969-1970. Her union membership was suspended in 1962, when she was accused of slandering some of the union's officers, and she countersued. She testified on the exploitation of women in variety work, and the union's shortcomings in representing those workers, before a United States Senate subcommittee in 1962. "I charge here and now that the exotic and strip artists have been abandoned and made outcasts by the very union to which they pay dues for representation and protection," she announced to the subcommittee.
Singleton was reinstated as a union member in 1963, after the dispute reached a legal settlement. In 1967, she led a successful month-long strike by the Radio City Rockettes for better working conditions. During her presidency, she led negotiations with Disney, during a variety artists' strike at Disneyland in 1970.
Personal life and legacy
Singleton married Laurence Scroggs Singleton, a dentist, in 1937; they divorced in 1939. She was married to Robert C. Sparks, a Marine Corps officer and film producer, from 1941 until his death in 1963. Singleton had two daughters, Dorothy and Susan. She was a Roman Catholic and a Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential election.
For her contributions to both radio and the motion-picture industry, in 1960, Singleton was honored with two stars as she was inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star for radio is located at 6811 Hollywood Boulevard, and her film star is just a few footsteps away, at 6547 Hollywood Boulevard.
- Belle of the Night (1930)
- Good News (1930) - Flo
- Love in the Rough (1930) - Virgie
- Howd' Ya Like That? (1934) - Dancer
- After the Thin Man (1936) - Polly Byrnes
- Vogues of 1938 (1937) - Miss Violet Sims
- Sea Racketeers (1937) - Florence Riley
- Swing Your Lady (1938) - Cookie
- Outside of Paradise (1938) - Colleen Kerrigan
- Men Are Such Fools (1938) - Nancy
- Racket Busters (1938) - Gladys
- Mr. Chump (1938) - Betty Martin
- Boy Meets Girl (1938) - Peggy
- Secrets of an Actress (1938) - Miss Reid
- Garden of the Moon (1938) - Miss Calder
- The Mad Miss Manton (1938) - Frances Glesk
- Hard to Get (1938) - Hattie
- Blondie (1938) - Blondie
- Blondie Meets the Boss (1939) - Blondie
- Blondie Takes a Vacation (1939) - Blondie
- Blondie Brings Up Baby (1939) - Blondie
- Blondie on a Budget (1940) - Blondie
- Blondie Has Servant Trouble (1940) - Blondie
- Blondie Plays Cupid (1940) - Blondie
- Blondie Goes Latin (1941) - Blondie
- Blondie in Society (1941) - Blondie
- Go West, Young Lady (1941) - Belinda Pendergast
- Blondie Goes to College (1942) - Blondie
- Blondie's Blessed Event (1942) - Blondie
- Blondie for Victory (1942) - Blondie
- It's a Great Life (1943) - Blondie
- Footlight Glamour (1943) - Blondie
- Leave It to Blondie (1945) - Blondie
- Life with Blondie (1945) - Blondie
- Young Widow (1946) - Peg Martin
- Blondie's Lucky Day (1946) - Blondie
- Blondie Knows Best (1946) - Blondie
- Blondie's Big Moment (1947) - Blondie
- Blondie's Holiday (1947) - Blondie
- Blondie in the Dough (1947) - Blondie
- Blondie's Anniversary (1947) - Blondie
- Blondie's Reward (1948) - Blondie
- Blondie's Secret (1948) - Blondie
- Blondie's Big Deal (1949) - Blondie
- Blondie Hits the Jackpot (1949) - Blondie
- Blondie's Hero (1950) - Blondie
- Beware of Blondie (1950) - Blondie
- The Best Man (scenes deleted, 1964)
Sourced from TV Guide
- Jetsons: The Movie (1990) - Jane Jetson (voice)
- Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1950) - Wilhelmina
- Frances Farmer Presents (1958) - Belinda Pendergast
- The Quick Draw McGraw Show (1959) – The Cattle Battle Rattled – Wife
- The Jetsons (1962–1963, 1985–1987) - Jane Jetson, Zoom Broom, Molecular Motors Video Women (voices)
- Death Valley Days (1963) - Maggie Franklin
- The Twilight Zone (1964) - "Sounds and Silences"- Mrs. Flemington
- Murder, She Wrote (1986) – "The Perfect Foil" – Aunt Mildred
- Rockin' with Judy Jetson (1988) - Jane Jetson (voice)
- The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones (1989) - Jane Jetson (voice)
- Hanna-Barbera's 50th: A Yabba Dabba Doo Celebration (1989) - Jane Jetson (voice)
- The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera (1990) - Jane Jetson (voice)
- The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera (ride) (1990) – Jane Jetson (voice)
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- Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
- Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
- "Penny Singleton". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on 2019-08-29. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
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