In the years immediately following World War II, a majority of Americans still relied on AM radio for their news, sports and entertainment. At a time when few households had television sets, major stars such as Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Burns & Allen, and Fibber McGee & Molly used radio to reach home audiences.
For many families in Middle America, the broadcast day began with The Breakfast Club, a one-hour variety show offering unabashed sentiment, comedy, human interest, music, and song.
Originating from Chicago, The Breakfast Club first went on the air on June 23, 1933 over NBC’s Blue Network. Hosted by Don McNeill, the initial broadcasts consisted of McNeill, singer Dick Teela, an announcer, a sound engineer, and a 12-piece orchestra of NBC staff musicians. Between musical numbers, McNeill would read jokes, poems, and stories of sentiment & inspiration clipped from newspapers. Since it came on at 8:00 a.m. Chicago time, network executives assumed that The Breakfast Club didn’t have much of a listening audience. Nor did it have a commercial sponsor.
Despite the odds against its survival, The Breakfast Club managed to hang on. After three months on the air, mail from listeners averaged 100 letters a day. At McNeill’s request, NBC broke its long-standing rule and allowed him to do the program without a pre-approved script. As a result, the show became more spontaneous, eventually earning the nickname “the most unrehearsed show on radio.”
In 1936, McNeill and a slowly expanding cast passed the 1,000 broadcast mark. Beginning in 1938, a studio audience was admitted to the broadcasts for the first time, providing McNeill with an opportunity to conduct impromptu interviews. After being chosen as radio’s most popular morning show by Radio Guide Magazine, The Breakfast Club finally attracted its first commercial sponsors in 1941.
In 1944 the size and loyalty of The Breakfast Club’s listening audience became clear when one of its sponsors offered Breakfast Club charter memberships. Nearly one million requests were received from every state of the union and several foreign countries. Both Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover were numbered among its fans. The Breakfast Club was also one of the first radio shows to be transcribed by the Department of Defense and made available to overseas military radio stations through The Armed Forces Radio Service. When NBC’s Blue Network was sold and became the American Broadcasting Company, The Breakfast Club was included in the deal, providing the new network with a reliable source of advertising revenue and a means for capturing audiences for the programs that followed it.
No visit to Chicago was complete without attending a Breakfast Club broadcast. Although admission to these broadcasts was free, requests for tickets had to be made at least two to four weeks in advance.
In 1947, The Breakfast Club originated from Studio A on the 19th floor of the Merchandise Mart. Ticket holders had to arrive at the Mart before 7:30 a.m. They would be met by Officer Bob Newman who had been greeting early morning visitors since the Breakfast Club first went on the air.
Once inside the Mart, “Breakfast Clubbers” were directed to a bank of elevators marked American Broadcasting Company. Here, Herman Benning, who had been the tower elevators’ guardian since 1931, saw to it that they had a non-stop ride to the 19th floor.
To the left of the elevators on the 19th floor was an ABC receptionist who directed ticket holders to go down the corridor to their left and then to Studio A on their right. Standing behind a roped off area opposite the reception desk would be 50 or more people who had come without tickets. A few lucky ones would sometimes get into the studio when ticket holders failed to arrive by 7:30 a.m. The rest saw the broadcast while standing in a glass-enclosed observation room above the studio.
Entering the studio, visitors would be shown to their seats by an usherette who would give them audience information cards to fill out. Based on the information written on these cards, audience members would be selected as interviewees.
By 7:25 a.m., most of Studio A’s 450 seats would be filled. A final orchestra rehearsal would take place while, inside the control room, Don McNeill, his personal secretary Mary Canny and producer Cliff Peterson would go over the audience cards looking for unusual jobs, names and places, poems and jingles, gags and just plain corn.
During the final minutes leading up to airtime, announcer Don Dowd would “warm up” the audience for its part in the show. This might include coaching them to participate in a commercial.
A last-minute gag from the cast insured that The Breakfast Club went on the air with a burst of laughter. Then came the First Call to Breakfast theme, set to an original melody and sung by Toastmaster Don McNeill:
Good Morning, Breakfast Clubbers,
good morning to yah.
We got up bright and early
just to how-dy-do yah
The cast would then gather around a prop breakfast table - no food was ever served - while Don commented on the weather and events of the day. Next, the orchestra would play a spirited number intended as a “waker-upper” for listeners at home. The first commercial usually involved comic Sam Cowling in a bit of horseplay. Then Jack Owens or that day’s guest songstress would sing a popular song. The program’s first 15-minute segment concluded with Don taking a hand-held microphone down into the audience for an interview or two.
The Second Call to Breakfast began with Jack Owens and Patsy Lee singing:
Good Morning, Good Morning, we like to
see you smile –
Good Morning, Good Morning, it makes
your life worthwhile
Then either Patsy or Jack would sing a popular ballad. This was followed by Don and Sam doing a commercial for Swift’s meat products.
This quarter hour featured Prayer Time, which was first introduced by Don McNeill during World War II. He would introduce it by saying:
All over the nation,
a moment of silent prayer –
Each in his own words, each in his own way,
For a world united in Peace –
Bow your heads – Let us pray!
The studio lights would be dimmed and thousands of listeners would join the studio audience and cast in 15 seconds of silent prayer.
The Third Call to Breakfast opened with a nod to the sponsor:
A suggestion if we may:
Swift’s products on the table
That we march around each day.
This served as a lead-in to one of The Breakfast Club’s best-remembered features: The March Around the Breakfast Table. Following an introduction from Don, the orchestra played a spirited march while children from the audience followed Sam Cowling as he pranced up and down the aisles and weaved around the prop breakfast table and chairs.
Next, “cruising crooner” Jack Owens would roam through the audience with a hand mike, serenading matrons, housewives, grandmothers, and bobby-soxers with songs of love and devotion.
The Fourth Call to Breakfast opened with another salute to a sponsor:
It’s time to sing yah another cheery greeting
So may we bring yah –
Philco’s call to breakfast
It was during this segment that Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) would usually appear to chat with Don and to read a rambling and gossipy letter from her friend “Nettie,” telling all the latest news about the folks back home including the Bert and Bertie Beerbower, Orphie Hackitt and the Fritzsingers; all characters that Allison had created. Afterwards, Don would invite Patsy Lee to sing to some gentleman in the audience.
A regular feature of this quarter hour was Inspiration Time, where Don would read an inspiring poem or story such as “A Woman’s Prayer for the Child to Come,” “Beatitudes for a Housewife,” “To a Child that Enquires,” and “Did Christ have a Little Black Dog?” At the request of listeners, many of these poems and stories were rebroadcast annually and would appear in The Breakfast Club’s yearbooks.
Next, Sam Cowling would read snippets of wisdom from his Almanac of Fiction ‘n Fact:
Fun is like insurance – the older you get the more it costs you.
Stealing a kiss may be petty larceny, but sometimes it’s grand.
The strangest dog in the world is the hot dog – it always feeds the hand that bites it.
Following a few more interviews with audience members, Don would join the cast around a standing microphone for the Last Call to Breakfast closing announcement:
“This is Don McNeill saying so long and be good to yourself.”
The orchestra would then play the goodbye theme as the program ended.
Afterwards, the cast would remain to sign autographs before retiring to the second-floor Merchandise Mart restaurant for a late breakfast.
Over the years, attempts were made to televise The Breakfast Club. Although these proved unsuccessful, the radio version continued to be heard until December 27, 1968. Don McNeill concluded that final broadcast by saying:
(If) there’s been any secret of success in this show it’s believability. I do stumble around and I do make mistakes, but I mean everything I say and have all these years.
Nothing I would say could mean more than having all of you, many of you, sometimes three generations of you, with me all these years. And so I hope you’ll be seeing me and hearing me hither and yon someplace. I wish all of you the greatest of success and happiness.
A number of Breakfast Club broadcasts survive in good sound, allowing modern-day listeners the opportunity to hear Don McNeill and his crew in one of radio’s most popular and long-running morning shows.
Don McNeill and His Breakfast Club by John Doolittle (2001), published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
Hosted by Don McNeill and originating from Chicago, The Breakfast Club first went on the air on June 23, 1933 on the NBC Blue Network and was last heard on December 27, 1968 on the American Entertainment Network. Combining human interest, music, song, unabashed sentiment and just plain corn, it was one of radio’s longest running and best-remembered morning variety shows.
This log is an attempt to briefly summarize the surviving Breakfast Club broadcasts that are most likely to be encountered today. In addition to identifying the cast members and guests who appeared, each program’s listing will include the network and the location where the broadcast originated from, the songs and orchestra numbers that were performed, highlights from the audience interviews that were conducted, the jokes, poems, and funny comments that were told, the sponsors whose products were advertised, and anything else of interest that occurred during the program.
Those broadcasts taken from Armed Forces Radio Service transcription disks, while undated, often contain clues as to the year, month and even the day when they took place. A best effort was made to date these AFRS broadcasts and then organize them into chronological order.
Additional information about the cast members and guests, and which explains and clarifies what was being discussed during the broadcasts is contained within brackets.
The First Call to Breakfast
- December 6, 1937, NBC Blue net, sustaining. The program originates from Studio A on the 19th floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. The program is joined in progress at the start of the Second Call to Breakfast. Don mentions that staff musician Chester Picarrro has lost his electric razor. Walter Blaufuss and the orchestra perform an unidentified dance tune. Don chats with singer Jack Baker, who describes the funny road signs he saw while on vacation. Jack then sings “There’s a Goldmine in the Sky.” Don mentions that it is currently 15 degrees in Chicago and that yesterday (Sunday) he was in Pittsburgh to appear at a benefit for the Milk Fund. The orchestra performs the rhumba “La Cucaracha.” Don interviews Chester about this missing razor, which apparently disappeared from his locker. The Hollywood High Hatters perform a song medley that includes “Posing” and “Life of the Party.” Don reads a gag message about Chester’s missing razor that was just received, and which is signed “Bluebeard and his gang.” The orchestra performs the light classical “Intermezzo” by Granados. Singer Annette King comments on Don’s tie, then she and Don perform a comic exchange about the differences between men and women. Afterwards, Annette sings “Moon and You,” which sounds like it might have been based on an American Indian theme. For Memory Time, the orchestra plays “Nearer my God to Thee” as Don reads an inspirational piece sent in by a listener. The orchestra then plays the dance tune “It Goes to Your Feet.” The Third Call to Breakfast opens with the March Around the Breakfast Table, accompanied by “March Lorraine.” Don reads a parody commercial for winter vacations in Hawaii as a lead-in to Jack Baker singing “When You Dream About Hawaii.” After commenting on orchestra leader Walter Blaufuss’ reputation as an insatiable diner, Don reads a comic poem about Methuselah’s dining habits. The orchestra plays “You Made Me Love You.” The segment ends with the NBC network identification.
- December 8, 1941, NBC Blue net. The program originates from Studio A on the 19th floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. [On December 7, 1941, following its surprise attacks on Hawaii and at various points in the Far East, Japan declared war on both the United States and Great Britain. For most of December 7th and continuing into December 8th, the NBC radio network provided 24-hour service, interrupting its regularly scheduled programs with news updates.] The Breakfast Club is proceeded by the latest war bulletins from the NBC newsroom in Chicago: Panama and several South American countries have declared war on Japan. Britain is expected to declare war on Japan shortly. The program is introduced as the NBC Breakfast Club. Following the First Call to Breakfast, The Vagabonds sing “Swing for Sale.” Don mentions that it is 35 degrees in Chicago and that it is windy with snow flurries. Don tells orchestra leader Joe Gallichio that men’s pants made of glass will soon be on the market. The orchestra plays “Two in Love,” which Don describes as “noisy but nice.” Singer Nancy Martin suggests that those listeners who are thinking of sending cookies, candies, and other edibles to the Breakfast Club cast for Christmas should send them to servicemen instead. Nancy is just about to sing “Why Don’t We Do This More Often” when the program abruptly switches to the NBC newsroom in New York for the latest war news: the Chinese government has formally declared war on Japan. Thailand has been overwhelmed by Japanese forces. Singapore experienced a 45-minute air raid. The Philippines have been bombed, and Wake Island and Guam have been attacked. President Roosevelt’s address to Congress [about the Pearl Harbor attack] will take place at 12:30 p.m. EST. NBC is now broadcasting on a 24-hour basis. There is a brief segment of orchestra music before the network breaks in to announce that Britain has declared war on Japan. It then switches to London for a live report from correspondents Charles Collingwood and John MacVane, who provide quotes from the address that Prime Minister Winston Churchill is making in the House of Commons, as well as updates on British war news. The Japanese have landed on the coast of Malaya. The British battleship HMS Prince of Wales has arrived in Singapore. On board is Admiral Sir Tom Phillips who is only 5’ 4’’ tall and who is referred to as the “Tom Thumb” admiral. [Two days later, on December 10, 1941, the Prince of Wales was sunk by Japanese aircraft off the coast of Malaya. Among those who went down with the ship was Admiral Phillips.] There is concern in Britain as to whether or not the U.S., which has been shipping supplies to England and Russia, will still be able to do so. The NBC newsroom in New York reports that Manila has not yet been bombed. The program is rejoined at the start of the Third Call to Breakfast, which opens with the March Around the Breakfast Table. Don and Nancy do a brief skit about a college student and her professor that takes place in “a college in College Park, Georgia.” Nancy then sings “Who Cares.” Don asks the orchestra to play a chord in G for radio station KGMO in Kansas City, Mo., which recently joined the Blue Network, and which is now carrying The Breakfast Club. Don interviews an audience member from Louisiana who will be leaving for South America that afternoon, and a woman from Chicago who is looking for clerical work. Singer Jack Baker jokes that he could use a secretary who will sit on his knee to take dictation. The network switches to London for more quotes from Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons. The program is rejoined in progress while the orchestra is playing “I Want to Be Happy.” Jack tells Don that he is having budget problems: the cost of the darning materials he needs to repair his socks and underwear has gone up. He then sings “Still Reveille.” For Inspiration Time, Don talks about the importance of keeping the Christmas spirit no matter how bad things may look. [While McNeill doesn’t specifically mention the Pearl Harbor attack of the day before, he does refer to the consequences of striking a “sleeping giant.”] The orchestra then plays “The White Cliffs of Dover.” The Vagabonds sing “I’d Love You Again.” Jack and Nancy harmonize on “Shine On, Harvest Moon.” Don reads the poem “Santa’s Answer to a Little Boy’s Letter.” Pianist Bill Kranz performs “Make Believe.” During the Last Call to Breakfast closing announcement, Don refers to the program as The Breakfast Table of the Air. The broadcast closes with the announcement that The Breakfast Club with Don McNeill comes to you from Chicago. The Breakfast Club is heard in Canada through the facilities of the Canadian Broadcasting Company. This is the National Broadcasting Company.
- 1943, NBC Blue net, Office of War Information abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from Studio A on the 19th floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. The program is introduced as the Blue Network Breakfast Club. Singer Jack Baker fills in as toastmaster because Don’s train was late reaching Chicago. (Don is returning from one of his annual fishing trips.) Jack assures everyone that Don’s train is in the station and that he should be arriving shortly. The Three Romeos perform “Sugar Blues” with Sam doing a vocal imitation of trumpeter Clyde McCoy performing this number. [Sam Cowling joined the Breakfast Club cast in 1937 as member of the singing group The Three Romeos. His on-air banter with Don was so successful that he soon became the show’s resident comic, creating skits, poems and comic songs. He would remain in the cast up through the final broadcast.] Because listeners have requested more polkas, Harry Kogen and the orchestra play “The Clarinet Polka” with Jackie Cordell as clarinet soloist. Jack mentions that Don’s family is in the studio waiting to surprise him. While Jack is interviewing 7-year-old Don McNeill, Jr., applause from the audience announces Don’s arrival in the studio. When asked if he had any luck on his fishing trip, Don replies that he brought home 10-20 good fish. Nancy Martin sings “Take Back Your Love.” Sam and Jack joke that they thought Don had taken his 2-year-old son Robert along as bait. Sam and Jack ask Don if he caught any rubber boots or tires, both of which are now valuable because of rubber shortages caused by the war. The Second Call to Breakfast opens with some comic banter between Don and Jack. Then Jack sings “Just the Way You Look Tonight.” Don mentions that there were about 20 Army boys on his train and that they had awakened him this morning by singing The Breakfast Club theme outside his compartment. Prior to the orchestra playing the “Prelude to Act I” from the opera La Traviata, Don provides a brief summary of the opera’s plot and relates a funny incident that happened during its first performance. There is some more comic banter between Jack and Sam. Don welcomes radio stations KENO in Las Vegas, Nevada and WKEY in Covington, Virginia which recently joined the Blue Network. During Memory Time, the orchestra plays “Song Without Words” by Tchaikovsky while Don reads a poem sent in by an army private and titled “Being Just a Private.” The Three Romeos sing the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” The orchestra plays an unidentified dance number to end the segment. The closing announcement mentions that the program is being provided by the Office of War Information.
- February 13,1943, NBC Blue net. The program originates from Studio A on the 19th floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. The program is joined in progress at the beginning of the third quarter hour with Jack Baker singing the special lyrics for Swift’s Third Call to Breakfast. [The Breakfast Club’s first sponsor was Swift & Company, a Chicago meat packer. Beginning in 1941, Swift sponsored the third quarter hour segment of the program which was the one known as the Third Call to Breakfast. This and the following three programs are the third quarter hour segments that have the Swift commercials. These recordings might have been made for Swift’s Advertising Department so that the commercials could be reviewed by company executives.] Accompanied by "Semper Fidelis March,” Chicago Naval cadets from Thurman Field in Enid, Oklahoma lead the March Around the Breakfast Table. After announcing that Nancy Martin will sing “There’s a Ray of Sunshine,” Don asks her if she knows what a “ray” is. When she answers that it is a man’s name, Don says that he knows Ray’s “ultra” sister Violet. Nancy sings “There’s a Ray of Sunshine.” Next, announcer Bob Brown reads a letter from “Jimmie” who, it is implied, is a former member of The Breakfast Club cast or crew. “Jimmie” is now in the service and is stationed somewhere where it’s hot. He is writing to express his appreciation for the bacon and other meat he is receiving as a member of the military. This leads into a commercial on how meat is providing “high test” power for Army and Navy personnel, and that civilians should “share the meat with a smile and not a growl.” Don mentions that the current ration of meat allowed for each adult is under 2-1/2 pounds per week. Violinist Jack Voss from the Breakfast Club’s orchestra performs Fritz Kreisler’s thoroughly delightful “Schön Rosmarin.” Next Don tells a joke about 50 Nazi pilots who, when knocking at the Pearly Gates, are informed by St. Peter that he was only expecting 6 because that’s the number that Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels said were shot down. Bob Brown announces that three members of Friday’s audience, who submit the best questions on meat cookery, will be having breakfast after the show with Don and Martha Logan, Swift’s Home Economics Expert. The segment ends with the announce that This program is coming to you from Chicago. This is the Blue Network.
- June 21, 1945, ABC net. The program originates from Studio A on the 19th floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. The program is joined in progress at the beginning of the Third Call to Breakfast. [In 1944, due to a Federal Communications Commission ruling, NBC was forced to sell off its Blue Network. It was purchased by industrialist Edward J. Noble, who owned New York City radio station WMCA. Beginning on December 30, 1944, the Blue Network became the American Broadcasting Company and The Breakfast Club became part of the new ABC radio network’s program schedule.] The March Around the Breakfast Table is accompanied by “El Capitan March.” (The screams of laughter coming from the audience are probably being caused by the antics of comic Sam Cowling who is leading the marchers.) Don interviews a woman from Boston who would like to move to Chicago. She tells Don that she knows he has a two-car garage, and couldn’t she have part of it? Singer Curley Bradley mentions that he has an empty stall in his barn. [Bradley, who was substituting for regular singer Jack Owens, was a member of the singing group The Ranch Boys which appeared on The Breakfast Club. He was also one of the actors who played Tom Mix on the radio.] Don also interviews an Army flight surgeon who was married five days earlier, and a young boy who had earned money to come to The Breakfast Club by doing odd jobs in his home town of Davenport, Iowa. Don suggests that the boy and his friend, who is also present, call themselves the “Davenport Handymen.” Curley Bradley sings “There Must Be a Way.” Curley then reads a “Corn Time” comic poem about Little Boy Blue that is part of a Swift commercial. Don Dowd, the regular Swift announcer takes over and finishes the commercial. Don and Curley (who is from Oklahoma) discuss the proper pronunciation of Chickasha, a town in Oklahoma. Don Dowd reads a commercial for Swift Premium Table Ready Meats. The segment ends with the ABC network identification.
- June 22,1945, ABC net. The program originates from Racine, Wisconsin and is joined in progress at the beginning of the Third Call to Breakfast. Substituting for singer Jack Owens is Jack Baker, who was once part of The Breakfast Club cast and whom Don refers to as the “Louisiana Lark.” Jack mentions that his son, who was born last June 29th (which is also Jack’s birthday) will celebrate his first birthday next week. Jack then sings “The Night is Young and You’re So Beautiful.” Don and Swift Meats announcer Don Dowd perform a comic skit that recreates Dowd’s audition to join The Breakfast Club cast. This leads into Dowd doing a commercial for Swift Premium Bacon. After some comic banter between Sam and Don, Marion Mann sings “There! I’ve Said it Again.” Don tries to get a little 6-year-old girl to come up on stage for an interview, but she is too shy. He then introduces a young man from Kenosha who has a comic item for Sam’s Almanac of Fact and Fiction: “Your heart’s on your left side. If it’s on your right side, it would be on the wrong side.” Don Dowd’s commercial for Swift mentions that the shortages of Swift’s Premium Ham and Bacon are due to the war-time requirements of the Armed Forces. The segment ends with the ABC network identification.
- June 23,1945, ABC net. The program originates from Sheboygan, Wisconsin and is joined in progress at the beginning of the Third Call to Breakfast. The segment opens with March Time. Don mentions that the program is coming from the Sheboygan Armory and that it is a warm day. Don and Sam join announcer Don Dowd in a comic skit/commercial for Swift Brookfield Cheese Spread. Representatives from the U.S. Treasury Department are introduced and present Don with the U.S. Treasury’s Distinguished Service Award, (the Treasury’s highest honor) for his work in helping to promote the sales of U.S. War Bonds. One of the representatives mentions that The Breakfast Club is the only radio program that works daily to help sell War Bonds. Marion Mann sings “The Dixieland Band.” Don Dowd’s commercial for Swift Brookfield Cheese Spread mentions that, because of the war, it is scarce but worth waiting for. The segment ends with the ABC network identification.
- 1947, ABC net, U.S. Treasury Department abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from Studio A on the 19th floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. [A portion of a 1947 Breakfast Club broadcast was recorded and used in an episode of Guest Star, a 15-minute program produced by the U. S. Treasury Department to help promote the sale of U.S. Savings Bonds. The episode is introduced by Bob Murphy, who mentions that The Breakfast Club has been on the air for 14 years, thereby helping to date the year of this broadcast as 1947. Murphy also mentions that Guest Star “is produced and transcribed in Chicago and is presented by this radio station and United States Savings Bonds as a public service.”] The Breakfast Club portion of the program begins with the usual First Call to Breakfast introduction. Don mentions that the broadcast is being done on behalf of U.S. Savings Bonds. He then interviews a woman from Texas who says that she plans to use her Savings Bonds to pay back a loan made to her by her father so that she could buy a car. The orchestra plays “Exactly Like You.” A man from Massachusetts plans to use his Savings Bonds to send his children to college. His sons will go to the University of Notre Dame and his girls can decide where they want to go. Patsy Lee sings “Only a Paper Moon.” [Patsy Lee joined The Breakfast Club cast in 1947, helping to further confirm the year of this broadcast.] Jack Owens sings “Put Your Little Head on My Shoulder” to some lady in the audience. For Memory Time, Don reads a stirring poem about buying Savings Bonds. This reading ends with the audience joining the cast in singing “God Bless America.” Don then does a commercial for buying Savings Bonds “where you work or where you bank.” Sam reads a corny poem about buying Savings Bonds: “If you like this Breakfast Club of Don’s, go out and buy some Savings Bonds.” A little Girl Scout from West Chicago says that her folks have Savings Bonds. When asked what she plans to use hers for, she answers, “to get married.” A woman from Lombard, Illinois is buying Savings Bonds to help save for a house and for college. She also uses them as a source of ready cash. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, Bob Murphy returns to thank Don McNeill and The Breakfast Club cast for their appearance. The program concludes with another Saving Bond commercial that ends with, “They’re a good buy. Good bye that is.”
- June 23,1953, The Breakfast Club’s 20th Anniversary Show) ABC net. WLS air check. The program originates from the Terrace Casino in Chicago’s Hotel Morrison. Don mentions that it is 82 degrees in Chicago. He also mentions that the program is being televised. The program opens with the orchestra playing “Too Much Mustard,” a number that it had played on the first broadcast back in 1933. The arrangement used is the same one that was performed in 1933, with Bill Krenz playing ragtime piano. The orchestra then plays a modern arrangement of the same number. Next, Don introduces 20 “Breakfast Club Babies” who were all born on June 23, 1933 while the first broadcast was taking place. Don also mentions that there are another 21 confirmed “Breakfast Club Babies” who couldn’t attend today’s broadcast. One of the “Breakfast Club Babies” participates along with Don and announcer Jack Callahan in a commercial for Bobbi Home Permanent kits. Don interviews a woman from the audience who measures her husband by putting her arms around him. Don has her measure Sam. Don then does a commercial for White Rain shampoo. During a WLS station break, it is reported that it is 72 degrees in Chicago with 59% humidity. The Second Call to Breakfast opens with Don interviewing a 14-year-old boy who wrote on his audience card: “Peggy has the shape. Johnny has the voice. Sam has the weight. But Don, what do you have?” When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, the boy answers “garbage collector.” While Peggy Taylor sings “What You Gonna Do?” audience laughter can be heard in the background as some horseplay takes place involving the boy who wanted to be a garbage collector. Don mentions that the show’s first sponsor was Swift Premium Ham. Swift announcer Don Dowd then takes over and plugs Swift Premium Bacon, Brookfield Sausage, and Pard Dog Food. Peggy and Johnny Desmond begin to sing “Smiles” when they are interrupted by Sam who presents Don with a card signed by every hospital and institution that listeners were asked to send cards and letters to over the years as part of the Breakfast Club’s Sunshine Shower feature. Following the Moment of Silent Prayer, Don shares memories of the show’s last 20 years, recalling former cast members, memorable broadcasts, tours, etc. He also mentions that orchestra leader Eddie Ballantine and pianist Bill Krenz were both in the orchestra for that first broadcast. (Eddie was a trumpet player back then.) Don then introduces his wife Kay and sons Tom, Don, and Bob. The boys joke as to who will someday succeed Don as toastmaster. The segment ends with another Swift commercial. The Third Call to Breakfast opens with the March Around the Breakfast Table, accompanied by “National Emblem March.” Don, Peggy and announcer Don Dowd do a commercial for various Swift meat products. Johnny Desmond sings “Somebody Stole My Gal.” Don interviews a 9-year-old girl from the audience who corrects his grammar. Sam Cowling then reads an item from his Fiction and Fact from Sam’s Almanac. Don interviews a 7 ½-year-old boy from the audience whom he addresses as “Hopalong.” (The boy might have been wearing a Hopalong Cassidy cowboy outfit.) When asked by Don who his favorite TV cowboys are, the little boy answers that he doesn’t have a TV and only listens to radio. The segment closes with another Swift commercial. The Fourth Call to Breakfast opens with announcer Bob Murphy reading a proclamation from Chicago’s mayor making June 23, 1953 Don McNeill Day. Don then introduced his mother, father and sister Agnes, who are in the audience. Don and Bob Murphy do a commercial for the new Philco refrigerator. Next, Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) makes an appearance. [Fran Allison first joined The Breakfast Club in 1937 as a singer. In 1944 she rejoined the cast as “Aunt Fanny,” a gossipy old spinster who would regale Don with the “goings on” in her rural small town. She remained a fixture on The Breakfast Club up through the final broadcast.] At the end of her segment, Fran drops out of character to credit Don for having brought “brightness, happiness, and comfort” to so many people. Don and the cast join Bob Murphy in discussing the various features of the new Philco refrigerator, which costs $269.95 [or about $2,561.00 in 2019 dollars.] Next, Don introduces “Breakfast Club Baby” #21, a sailor whom the Navy flew to Chicago from Pearl Harbor in order to attend the 20th Anniversary broadcast. As a surprise, Don brings out the sailor’s mother, who he hadn’t seen in 16 ½ months. Don then reads a list of the gifts that the “Breakfast Club Babies” will be receiving. Next, he tells the audience that he is treating them all to breakfast and then instructs the waiters to start serving them. The program ends with the Final Call to Breakfast and the ABC network sign-off.
The Second Call to Breakfast
For the first 24 years of its existence, The Breakfast Club was fed live to stations in the mid-west and east, beginning at 8:00 a.m. Chicago time. (West Coast audiences heard the show on a time delay.) The cast, musicians, and crew had to be in the studio by 7:00 a.m., and audience members attending a broadcast had to arrive by 7:30 a.m. to be assured of getting a seat. In 1957, a special agreement was worked out with the Musicians’ Union so that the show could be taped an hour or so later and then broadcast the next day at the usual 8:00 a.m. time. For remote broadcasts or when the day of the show had a special meaning, The Breakfast Club was done live.
- Spring 1958, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. [The Breakfast Club was one of the first network radio programs to be rebroadcast by the Armed Forces Radio Service Network to U.S. military personnel deployed around the world. The one-hour broadcasts, minus commercials, would be abridged to 30 minutes and then mailed to overseas military radio stations on 16-inch transcription disks, to be rebroadcast about two to three weeks after the original broadcasts had taken place.] The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. [The Breakfast Club began broadcasting from the Hotel Sherman in 1955.] Don mentions that singer Dick Noel is out sick with a strep throat but should be back on Monday. Today’s audience is made up mostly of high school seniors visiting Chicago. The orchestra plays an unidentified number using a Lawrence Welk-style arrangement. Don interviews some of the high school students, asking them, “Describe how you might look and live when you reach the peak of success in your life.” Guest singer Carol Ann Jarvis sings “Lover Boy.” Afterwards, Don recognizes orchestra musician Lee Knight who played the tenor sax solo during Carol’s song. [Lee Knight was one of Don McNeill’s golfing companions.] There are some more interviews with the high school students before the Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads an inspirational poem sent in by a woman from California. Then, Carol sings “Mother Machree.” Don mentions that Carol is this week’s guest singer as part of the search for a new singer to replace Betty Johnson, who left the cast eight weeks ago to get married. [ Betty Johnson left The Breakfast Club in 1957, which tends to indicate that this broadcast took place early in 1958.] Listeners are invited to send in their comments and votes to help select the new singer. Among the guest singers who Don mentions as having been heard so far is Connie Francis. [The singer eventually selected was 19-year-old Anita Bryant.] Cliff Peterson sings “Minnesota Polka” using a comic Swedish accent. [Peterson originally joined The Breakfast Club in 1936 as a member of the singing group The Escorts and Betty. In 1945, he was named the show’s producer, a position he held up through the last broadcast. Occasionally, he would step out of the control booth and sing in a comic Swedish accent.] Next Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) makes an appearance. Seeing the high school students’ chaperons, Aunt Fanny quips, “They’re too old to get in the game but they like to know the score.” Don interviews a high school student who plays the clarinet. Don mentions that he used to play the clarinet and might do so again someday. When the student mentions that he likes Dixieland music, Don has the orchestra play “South Rampart Street Parade.” Next, Don reads some corny jokes sent in by a listener from Cincinnati. Following the Last Call to Breakfast closing, there is an announcement that This is the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- Spring 1958, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Don mentions that it is 60 degrees in Chicago and that the temperature is falling. Following an unidentified “big band” number, Don introduced Ann Leonardo who is that week’s guest singer. Ann is 19 years old and is from Fresno, California. Accompanying herself on the piano, she sings “Everybody Loves My Baby.” Next, Don interviews some high school seniors, asking them how they view themselves and what are their future plans. Filling in for Dick Noel (who still has a bad throat) is Gary Mann, a 22-year-old singer who is 6’4” tall. Gary sings “Never Make Eyes.” Next comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads “Recollections of a Very Young Person,” which appeared in an April issue of the Saturday Evening Post. Ann sings “Thank Thee, Lord.” Next comes the March Around the Breakfast Table. When Gary tells Don that he would someday like to appear in musical comedies, Don mentions the musical Li’l Abner, which is currently playing on Broadway. [Li’l Abner opened on Broadway on November 15, 1956 and closed on July 12, 1958, which helps to date the year of this broadcast.] Gary sings “Night and Day.” Next, Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) makes an appearance. Having heard about Dick Noel’s sore throat, she offers her own home remedy for sore throats. Don reads a letter from a woman who recently started re-listening to The Breakfast Club. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement This is the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- Spring 1958, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. The program opens with 22-year-old Gary Mann singing “Dream Your Troubles Away.” Don mentions that Gary is 6’ 4” tall. Don gives a 7-question quiz to a group of 8 high school seniors on the subject of “How Does the Future Look to You?” Afterwards, he interviews them about their answers and their ambitions. Guest singer Ann Leonardo sings “When My Cutie Walks Down the Street.” Next comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads from a Reader’s Digest article on teenage relationships and “going steady.” Ann sings “Oh, How I Miss You Tonight.” Don interviews an 8th grader from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, (Don’s home town.) Don mentions that Gary Mann is filling in for Dick Noel who is recovering from a bad throat. Gary then sings “But for the Grace of God,” an inspirational song that he had introduced on The Breakfast Club a year earlier. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement This is the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- April 28, 1958, ABC net. 22-minute segment with guest Bob Hope. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Bob Hope mentions that he just flew in from Las Vegas. Don and Bob talk about Bob’s recent television special that was done in Moscow. An audience member asks Bob why he has to plug his movies during his TV appearances. “Aren’t they any good?” Bob explains that he makes 8 to 10 television appearances a year and must remind audiences that he is still making movies. His latest is “Paris Holiday.” Asked if he had a language problem while doing his TV special in Russia, Bob explains that the monologue was filmed at the American Embassy in Moscow. When asked who his favorite comedians are, he names Jack Benny and Milton Berle. When asked if he is ever able to spend time with his wife, Bob jokes that this wife thinks he’s an airline pilot. He does mention that he and his wife have been married for 24 years. When Don tries to do a Bufferin commercial, Bob breaks in to say that his first sponsor was Bromo-Seltzer (a competitor!) Asked if the Russian people are happy, Bob jokes that Russia looks like a country of Ed Sullivans. Don and Bob comment about Bing Crosby’s new and much younger wife. Don asks Bob how he is able to maintain such a pace, doing tours, TV, movies, radio, etc. Bob asks Don why he’s not on television. The segment ends with Bob saying that he’s going back to bed.
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- June 1958, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Ted Mack fills in as guest toastmaster while Don McNeill is on vacation. A lady from the audience asks, “What built Chicago into the wonderful city that it is?” and then answers her own question by saying, “The Railroads!” Sam points out that members of the Railroad Electric Supply Men’s Association are in the audience and that this woman is probably connected with them. As the orchestras plays an up-tempo rendition of “The Billboard March,” famous circus clown Emmett Kelly joins Ted Mack at the breakfast table. Kelly relates how he got the idea for his tramp makeup from an animated cartoon character he drew while working in Kansas City in 1920. Kelly will be appearing with the Cristiani Bros. Circus during its upcoming Chicago engagement. [The Cristiani Bros. Circus’ 1958 appearance in Chicago occurred June 27-July 13, which helps to identify the month when this broadcast took place.] Kelly tells that he was born in Houston, Missouri and that, as a boy, he did odd jobs in Kansas City. When asked what makes a good circus clown, Kelly replies that it takes a willingness to work hard to develop and perfect new gags and not copy anyone else. When asked about the changes that have taken place in the circus business over the years, Kelly replies that most circuses now travel on trucks. In 1920 when he first toured as a clown, there were 14 railroad circuses. When asked about his other activities, he mentions that he recently had a character role in a movie filmed in Florida titled Wind Across the Everglades and which will soon be released. He concludes by saying that the Cristiani Bros. Circus is the world’s largest tented circus and that it will be appearing in the parking lot south of Soldiers Field. Carol and Dick sing the novelty song “Flying Purple People Eater.” Dick then sings “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” using a modern-sounding arrangement. For Hymn Time, Carol sings “Thank Thee, Lord.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Ted reads an inspirational item sent in by a man from Texas and titled “Folks are Funny that Way.” This is followed by Carol singing “Be Good to Your Neighbor.” The March Around the Breakfast Table is accompanied by “Make America Proud of You.” A woman reads a funny message to Sam. Then Dick and Carol sing “Bluebirds, Robins and Meadowlarks.” This leads into a joke about “circular” birdhouses that are built for “round” robins. Two Girl Scouts from the audience shares some jokes and a riddle. Ted then interviews a young man who is going to be working in a reptile garden in Rapids City, Iowa. Carol sings a comic song using a funny German accent. The cast continues to use this funny German accent as they sing The Last Call to Breakfast theme. The program concludes with the announcement that Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- Spring 1959, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. The program opens with the orchestra performing an unidentified “big band” number. Don mentions that 100 4-H girls from Northbrook, Illinois are attending the broadcast. While Don is interviewing a 7th grade girl, she says, “I hear you have a white apple.” Don tells her that she probably means singer Charlie Applewhite. [Charlie Applewhite was an American singer and radio host. The height of his fame came when he was a regular on the Milton Berle show in the mid- 1950s. Afterwards, he became a highly-paid entertainer, performing on records, radio, and television.] Charlie then sings “Music by the Angels.” A 4th grader from the 4-H group gives a long and detailed explanation of what the 4-H stands for and then recites a little prayer. One of the 4-H girls asks for a Texas joke. Don tells her that Charlie Applewhite, who is from Texas, will tell the joke, but Charlie begs off until later in the program. Singer Nancy Wright sings “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries.” Next, Charlie sings “That Lucky Old Sun.” For Hymn Time, Nancy sings “Teach Me to Pray.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don has the 4th grade 4-H girl repeat the prayer she said earlier. Following an unidentified orchestra number, Nancy sings “I Enjoy Being a Girl.” [This song is from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song, which opened on Broadway on December 1, 1958, which helps to date the approximate year of this broadcast as 1959.] After a bit of foolishness with Don, Charlie tells his Texas joke. Then he sings “The Touch of Your Lips.” Don mentions that Charlie, who is only 5’ 7” tall, will be performing tomorrow night in Omaha, Nebraska, but that he’ll be back on The Breakfast Club Monday morning. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- April 1959, ABC net. AFRTS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Don mentions that this is National Secretaries Week and that there are many secretaries in today’s audience. [Created in 1952, National Secretaries Week, now referred to National Administrative Professionals Week, occurs in April, which helps to date the month when this broadcast took place.] Don reads a letter from a listener who says that Don always describes each new Breakfast Club girl singer as “a cute little gal.” Don then reads “Texas’ Ode to Alaska” which was sent in by a listener from Texas. [When Alaska became a state on January 3, 1959, Texas became the second largest state, which resulted in much friendly kidding of Texans.] Following an unidentified orchestra number, Don reads some of the funny comments that the audience members wrote on their cards. Dick sings “I Love You for Sentimental Reasons.” Don invites 5 high school sophomore girls to sing their class song. The lyrics include, “We are the class of ’61,” which helps to identify 1959 as the year this broadcast took place. Next, Don introduces singer Anita Bryant who sings “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Don mentions that Anita is from Oklahoma, that she is a year out of high school, and that she is attending Northwestern University. [Anita Bryant was born on March 25, 1940, so if she was a year out of high school, she would have been 19, which is a further confirmation that the broadcast took place in 1959.] Don interviews two secretaries from the audience. When asked what quality a secretary appreciates most in a boss, one replies, “Consideration.” Another secretary relates how she once had to take dictation in the dark for two hours. This occurred during a presentation in Orchestra Hall where the lights were turned off in order to show some slides. For Hymn Time, Anita sings “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy.” Next comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads an item from Sunshine Magazine titled “Call Ourselves What You Will,” and which describes how Capitalism benefits everyone, not just the rich. Next, Don interviews two girls from Morris, Illinois. One girl says that her ambition is to be the first woman on the moon. Another girl says that her mother thinks The Breakfast Club is still on TV but all she gets when she tunes in is Captain Kangaroo. Dick and Anita sing “Juanita.” Afterwards, Anita complains that no song has ever been written about “Anita.” Don says that Sam could write one for her since he also wrote “Dorothy Hermershimer.” Don then reads some humorous letters from listeners telling how this song has affected them. On cue, Dick, Anita and Sam perform a chorus of “Dorothy Hermershimer.” Don interviews an Illinois man who was once mistaken for a bank robber and arrested in Oklahoma. He and the bank robber had the same unusual last name and were about the same age and build. A thumb print included on the wanted flier eventually proved his innocence and he was released. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, “Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- April 1959, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Don names the various high school senior classes that are in the audience. As he mentions each high school’s name, the students give their school yell. Then, Don and some of the cast members give their high school yells. After the orchestras plays an unidentified number, Don interviews a high school senior from Morristown, Minnesota who is consider by his classmates to be the one involved in the most activities. Asked what his plans are after graduation, the student replies that he will be going to college, and then into the Air Force, and someday hopes to be an engineer. Dick Noels sings “Rock Away Your Troubles in that Easy Rocking Chair.” Don chats with a woman from Hope, Arkansas who reminds him that, when Don’s youngest son Bob was born, she had sent him a small gift that she had made herself. Don mentions that Bob is now 18. [Robert McNeill was born in 1941, which helps to date the year of this broadcast as 1959.] Anita Bryant sings “When Love is Calling Me Home.” Afterwards, she gives her high school yell. Sam gives the yell from Alcatraz prison. Don interviews another high school senior who is president of the “Old Maids of America” club. (Their goal is not to become old maids.) When questioned by Don, she admits that she is “going steady.” Don mentions that singer Dick Noel and his wife adopted an 18-month-old boy about a week ago. Dick then sings “That Little Boy of Mine.” During a spoken soliloquy that is part of the song, he reminds the baby that he (Dick) gets up at 5:00 a.m. and not at 3:00 a.m.!) For Hymn Time, Anita sings “God Be with You ‘til We Meet Again.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads a poem sent in by a listener from San Francisco about “Taking the Measure of a Man.” Don interviews a high school senior who is considered by his classmates to be the smartest kid in his class. Don asks him to define capillary action, and the student answers correctly. Next, Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) makes an appearance. Seeing all the high school seniors, she remarks that “They’re the next generation. We’re the past. What happened to the present?” Dick sings “Shanghai” and then Anita sings “Back in Your Own Back Yard.” A lady from Dubuque, Iowa sends a message to all the women at home who wish they could come to The Breakfast Club: “Don’t give up hope. I made it and so can you.” When Don asks for a song request to close the show, someone requests “Dorothy Hermershimer,” which the cast then sings. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that “Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- September 4, 1959, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. The program is joined in progress while Don is interviewing a man who wrote on his audience card that he was born in a cemetery. His father was the engineer in charge of developing the cemetery and he was born there before his father was finished. Don interviews another woman who attended a Breakfast Club broadcast a year ago when she weighed 210 pounds. Now she weighs 158. Fredricka “Freddie” Weber (whom Don describes as a “cute little gal”) and Dick Noel sing “Cruisin’ Down the River.” After mentioning that today is National Newspaper Carrier Day, Don interviews a 16-year-old newspaper boy. [National Newspaper Carrier Day is celebrated on September 4th, helping to date the month and day of this broadcast.] When the boy mentions that he plays bassoon, Don warns him that bassoon players eventually go insane. To prove his point, he has one of the musicians in the orchestra stand up. This one, however, is an oboe player. The boy intends to be a lawyer someday. He tells Don that being a newspaper boy taught him responsibility and to be on time in the morning. When asked where he expects to be doing 10 years from now, he answers that he will be owning his own law firm. He mentions his hobbies are working on cars, putting together radios, and skin diving. He is also in the ROTC. Dick Noel sings “Thou Swell.” Cliff Peterson [who is also The Breakfast Club’s producer] imitates a Minnesota newsboy using a comical Swedish accent. “Freddie” relates an embarrassing incident from when she was a student at Stevens College: while being introduced to singer Frankie Carle, she could only stutter out a few words. She then sings “Hello, Young Lovers.” Don says that there are only two kinds of secrets where women are concerned: One: Those that aren’t worth keeping and Two: Those that are too good to keep. For Hymn Time, Dick sings “He Leadeth Me.” Next comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads from an article that appeared in the October issue of Seventeen Magazine about student cheating. Don mentions that his boys went to a high school that has the honor system. “Freddie” sings a comic song “They Always Pick on Me.” Don asks women from the audience to tell how they get their husbands to do what they want to get done. Don mentions that after 28 years he usually knows what his wife wants done. [Don and his wife Kay were married in 1931, which helps to identify the year of this broadcast as 1959.] Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that “Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- June 1960, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Warren Hull fills in as guest toastmaster for a vacationing Don McNeill. Warren mentions that it is the start of a new week. He then introduces guest singer Diana Trask, whom he describes as a redhead from Australia. Warren reads the audience card from a woman who has been listening to The Breakfast Club for 27 years. A woman from Texas asks on her audience card, “Why don’t people in Chicago understand Texans?” To appease her, Bill Krenz plays a few bars of “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You” on the organ. Diana sings “It Could Happen to You.” A woman from Newton, Iowa relates how once, when she and a friend were dining at a Chicago restaurant, they received finger bowls at the end of their meal and had to ask their waiter what they were for. Dick Noel sings “White Lies.” Diana returns to sing “Can’t Help Lovin’ that Man of Mine.” For Hymn Time, Dick sings “Faith of Our Fathers.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Warren Hull reads “Precaution,” which warns against the barriers that can build up between a married couple. Next, Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) makes an appearance. She remarks that “visitors to Chicago come to The Breakfast Club to give themselves something to do before the department stores open.” She also says that, “In little towns there is not much to see. What they hear makes up for it.” Dick Noel sings “Oh, Bella Mia.” Next Warren introduces television actor and comedian Morey Amsterdam who is the day’s special guest. Morey remarks that it is too early for people to laugh and that they should remake the program into “The Lunch Club.” Learning that someone wrote on their audience card, “The horses took me,” Morey launches into a story about a racetrack tout. A lady from Pasadena, Texas asks what percentage should she tip in Chicago? Morey answers 15% although most waiters expect at least a quarter. During the Last Call to Breakfast, Warren mentions that Peter Donell will be hosting tomorrow’s show from Chicago’s International Trade Fair on Navy Pier. The program concludes with the announcement that “Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- June 1960, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the Chicago International Trade Fair on Chicago’s Navy Pier. Peter Donell fills in as guest toastmaster for a vacationing Don McNeill. Peter explains that the show is coming from the 1960 Chicago International Trade Fair being held on Navy Pier. [Following the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, Chicago became an international port. That year, and for several years following, Chicago held International Trade Fairs to showcase the goods that were coming to the city from over forty nations. Beginning in 1959, The Breakfast Club would broadcast from the Fair, a tradition that lasted for several years. The 1960 Chicago International Trade Fair occurred June 20-July 5, which helps to date the month of this particular broadcast.] Peter opens by saying that today’s show should be called the “Off Shore Follies” since it is coming from a mile out on Lake Michigan. Peter introduces “Admiral” Eddie Ballantine and his “14 downbeat dock workers.” He also mentions that singer Dick Noel was once in the Coast Guard. After Peter comments on the difficulties of broadcasting in the open air, the orchestra plays “You Do Something to Me.” Peter mentions that today’s guest singer is soprano Mimi Benzell. He admits that, while he is not fond of “Indian Love Call and other operetta songs, if he’s ever going to like light opera and semi-classical music, this is the girl who is going to change his mind. A woman wrote on her audience card that she came to today’s Breakfast Club broadcast to get into the Fair for free. The orchestra and cast perform a special song “The Whole World is Coming to Chicago.” Mimi sings “Where is Your Heart.” The orchestra performs an unidentified number that features Eddie Ballentine playing a trumpet solo. For Hymn Time, Dick Noel sings “Let Your Light So Shine.” Afterwards comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Peter reads a poem titled “Mind Cleaning Day.” Mimi suggests that women who come to the Fair should wear water wings since they are always trying to be angels. Mimi and Dick then sing “Moonlight and Roses.” Next, Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) makes an appearance. After saying that you never know where you’re going to find The Breakfast Club, she describes the International Trade Fair as a “department store surrounded by water.” A young and aspiring singer from Iowa who is in the audience asks for some professional advice. Sam tells him to quit while he’s ahead. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- Summer 1960, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. The program opens with the orchestra performing an unidentified “big band” number. Don comments that 5,000 reporters are visiting Chicago. Dick Noel sings “I May Be Wrong, But I Think You’re Wonderful.” Don interviews a woman from the audience who was married twice in France. The first ceremony was performed, according to French law, by the mayor of the village where she was living. A second ceremony took place in a church on the U.S. Air Force base where her husband was stationed. Another woman from the audience relates that, after she and her sister married brothers, her husband is also her brother-in-law, and her sister is also her sister-in-law. Guest singer Laurie Parker (who is only 16 years old) sings “I’m in Love with A Wonderful Guy.” [Laurie was, most likely, a summer replacement for the regular singer.] Don mentions that Laurie is a junior at North Hollywood High. Don offer some “food for thought” for teenagers, telling them to ask for the key to the garage and then get out the lawnmower. The orchestra plays “The Whistler and his Dog.” A woman from the audience relates a story about her cousin who is a school teacher. While teaching some 1st graders how to say the Pledge of Allegiance, one little boy said that he already knew it. His version included the line “And to the Republican for which it stands.” Dick Noel sings “Run Along Home.” For Hymn Time, Laurie sings “Abide with Me.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads an excerpt from “Little Stories from Great Religions” which appeared in the June issue of McCall’s Magazine. The story he tells explains why truth is always more acceptable when disguised as parable. Don interviews a lady from the audience who dreamed that she attended a Breakfast Club broadcast dressed in a pink nightgown and a mink coat. Sam tells a funny story about orchestra leader Eddie Ballantine’s wife “Frou-Frou” who dreamed that Eddie was a washing machine. Don interviews a man from Buffalo who tells some corny jokes: “Why do robins fly south for the winter? It beats walking.” When asked what he does for a living, the man says that he is a carpenter. Laurie and Dick sing “Down by the Old Mill Stream.” The orchestra plays what sounds like a lively Italian folk song. Laurie sings “If I Were a Bell.” Don chats with an 87-year-old doctor who was an ear, nose and throat specialist for 67 years. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- Summer 1960, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. The program opens with the orchestra playing a “big band” arrangement of “‘Lassus Trombone.” Guest singer 16-year-old Laurie Parker sings “I’m Going to Live Until I Die.” Afterwards Don and Sam kid around with Laurie who will be a senior in the fall. Don interviews a high school sophomore from Boise who, on an impulse, once pushed the “emergency stop” button while riding in a hotel elevator. Next, Don interviews a woman who accidentally set off a tear gas canister while cleaning up the office where she worked. Dick Noel sings “I’m Looking at the World Through Rose-Colored Glasses.” The orchestra then plays an unidentified “big band” number. When Don asks Laurie who her favorite male singers are, she mentions Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Don interviews a woman whose hair naturally turned from red to blond. For Hymn Time, Dick sings “I Found the Answer.” Next comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads an item taken from “Philosophies from the Great Religions.” Don asks a man from Fort Harrison, Indiana what campaign promise he would make if he was running for President. [1960 was a Presidential Election year.] The man says he would promise a pay raise for members of the Armed Forces. When Don asks what he does for a living, he replies that he is in the Army. Backed up by some male singers, Dick sings “Carolina in the Morning.” Don introduces Miss New Zealand Lorraine Jones and who is currently touring the United States. [Larraine Jones was Miss New Zealand in 1960, which helps to date the year of this broadcast.] This is her first visit to the U.S. According to her, the San Francisco area is very much like New Zealand. She can’t get used to the Chicago heat. [This comment about the heat suggests that the broadcast took place in July or August.] When asked if she is having trouble adjusting to American customs, she says that she hasn’t been able to get a good cup of tea here, and that she doesn’t like all the tipping and sales taxes. Don next interviews an Army sergeant who is one of group of top Army recruiters who are attending the broadcast. One of them once rode a horse 36 miles to enlist a rancher’s son. Someone the sergeant recruited once sent him a grenade pin and said that he’d give him the rest of it when he returned. (He was joking, of course.) Don mentions that he has a son in the Air Force. Laurie sings “Remember Me to Jimmy.” Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- August 1960, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Don names the various groups that are attending the broadcast, and then has a 4-H group stand and give their club pledge. Next, the orchestra plays an unidentified Lawrence Welk-type number. (The laughter heard in the background during this number is probably being caused by the antics of comic Sam Cowling while dancing with some woman from the audience.) Dick Noel sings a rural novelty number “Tomorrow Morning is My Wedding Day.” Don interviews members of the Women’s Country Club Farmerettes, from Hillsdale, Illinois, all of whom made their own hats to wear to the broadcast. One of these women, who likes to go to auctions, tells Don that she has 14 rooms of antiques. These women had gotten up at 2:00 a.m. to catch a bus to Chicago to attend the broadcast. Don introduces guest singer Geraldine from California who is looking for an apartment with cooking facilities, since she is tired of eating out. Geraldine then sings “Forgotten.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads a poem about Adam and Eve. This serves as a lead-in to Dick and Geraldine singing a comic song about men and women. Don announces that, because the Porter House Room is so crowded, there will be no March Around the Breakfast Table today. He does have the orchestra play a short march for the people at home. Dick sings “Around the World.” Next, Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) makes an appearance. She mentions the “fellow in the balloon who went up 102,000 feet.” [Aunt Fanny is undoubtedly referring to USAF Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger who, on August 16, 1960, bailed out of a balloon at 102,800 feet as part of Project Excelsior.] Geraldine sings “Bluebirds Keep Singing in the Rain.” At Don’s request, 60 members of a Methodist youth group from Grand Island, Nebraska stand up and sing their school song “Hoorah for G.I.” Don interviews a girl from the group who recently broke her arm. People have been autographing the cast on her arm, and Don promises to autograph it after the broadcast. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- August 1960, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Don mentioned that the Gulf Coast and the Rockies are getting rain today, while the rest of the country is having very lovely weather. He names the various groups who are in the audience, including a group of school teachers who are attending a teachers’ convention in Chicago. He then tells a corny story about a little boy in the 1st grade who asked his mother if she knew what a “dumb ring” was. When asked where he’d heard those words, he said that in school they had sung a song with the lyrics “Let Free-dom ring.” Dick Noel and Eddie Ballentine sing “The Nickelodeon Rag” with Bill Krenz doing the Nickelodeon piano solo. An 11-year-old boy asks Don a riddle. “What would you rather be, a tree, a waterfall or a lollypop?” Don interviews a retired weatherman from Houston who says that he can never talk to his wife at 9:00 a.m. in the morning because she is always listening to The Breakfast Club. A woman relates how, on a trip to Maine, she and her husband had gotten lost during the night and ended up parking their car and spending the night in it. When it got light, they discovered that they had parked on a narrow promontory with steep drop-offs on three sides. Geraldine sings “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Don reads an item from Reader’s Digest explaining why college undergraduates are required to take so many English courses: they need to learn a language other than their own. Next comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. Dick sings “He’s Only a Prayer Away.” Don interviews a teacher from Boston who went back to college to become a teacher so that she could earn enough money to send her six children to college. A 70-year-old woman from Galesburg, Illinois tells Don that she tried to get into yesterday’s broadcast but was one of the 200 people who were turned away. She mentions that she has sung in her church choir for 55 years and that she recently sang a Swedish hymn on the radio. Don tells the woman (who sounds like a real-life Aunt Fanny) that she can be on the program anytime she likes. Following the March Around the Breakfast Table, Don interviews the little boy who helped lead the march. Prompted by Don, the little boy says that he is from Toledo and that he is here with his mother who is a teacher. Asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he replies “A policeman.” When asked what policemen do, he replies, “They protect people.” When asked what his daddy does, he replies, “He goes to work.” Don comments on Geraldine’s silk dress which she says is made of “hankie material.” She then sings “I May Be Wrong, But I Think You’re Wonderful.” A teacher from Detroit asks Don if he has coffee breaks during the day. She then says that teachers are lobbying for a one-hour break during the school day. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
>>> Continue to The Breakfast Club: An Annotated Program Log Part 3 >>>
- August 1960, ABC net. AFRTS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Don mentions that yesterday the cast had a meeting out at his lake. [Don McNeill owned a forty-five-acre tract of woodland near Barrington, Illinois that had a man-made lake and a house near the water. Named “Himself’s Hideaway,” this is where Don and his family spent many of their weekends.] In summarizing what was discussed during the meeting, Sam imitates the sound of someone snoring. The orchestra plays an unidentified mambo. Don reads a poem that someone had written on their audience card: “Life is race we all must run, so go it, folks while you’re young.” Dick Noel, assisted by Sam, sings “Freight Train.” Don introduces the Anita Kerr Singers from Nashville who perform “I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” Don tries to interview a little boy from Nebraska whose father wrote on the boy’s audience card, “I look like my daddy. I’m adopted.” The interview has to be cut short when the little boy becomes scared by all the unexpected attention and begins to cry. Next comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads a “Resolution for Drivers” that urges them to be more thoughtful and considerate for the safety of others. Dick sings “Follow the Golden Rule.” Before starting the March Around the Breakfast Table, Don reads a letter from a woman who requests a short march so that she can carry all of her children while they march. The orchestra obliges her. This week’s guest singer Geraldine sings “Wonderful Wonderful.” A woman from the audience challenges Don to guess what she does for a living. Don guesses that she is a librarian, but it turns out that she is a nurse. Earlier, Dick had mentioned that, while driving out to Don’s lake, he and his wife had seen a tree in a traffic island. This leads into the Anita Kerr Singers performing “In the Middle of an Island.” Afterwards Don mentions that the group will be appearing regularly on Jim Reeve’s radio show. After describing the appearance of a man from the audience, Don guesses that he is an executive for a plumbing company and that he lives in Indio, California. It turns out the man is from Michigan and works for the railroad. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- September 2, 1960, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Following the First Call to Breakfast opening, the orchestra plays a quick chorus of “Jingle Bells.” Don explains that there is a reason for this Christmas broadcast taking place on September 2nd. It is being taped for the Armed Forces Radio Service Network and will be heard all over the world on Christmas morning. Don explains that AFRS will record the whole show and then chop it down to a half hour; “They’re doing their Christmas chopping early!” The orchestra then plays a “big band” arrangement of “Jingle Bells.” With almost four months to go before Christmas Day 1960, Don makes some predictions about the teams that will be playing in the 1960 World Series and the Rose Bowl. He also predicts that the Presidential election will be “close,” but stops short of saying who will win. Dick Noel sings “The Christmas Song.” Don mentions that Dick is the singer with the perfect name for Christmas: NOEL. Assuming his “Boris Beatnik” character, Dick reads “A Very Hep Night Before Christmas,” accompanied by an ad lib solo flute and a bongo. Don introduces singer Lorri Peters who, while touring with Ray McKinley and the Glenn Miller Band, visited U.S. Air Force bases in Europe and North Africa. Lorri sings “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.” Don does a comic interview with a street corner Santa played by Sam. Don names the various groups that are in the audience including a veterans’ group. The orchestra plays a special “big band” arrangement of “Sleigh Ride.” Don observes that since cold makes things contract, that’s why the days get shorter in Winter. Today in Chicago it is in the mid-90s. The orchestra plays “The Toy Trumpet” with Eddie Ballantine playing the trumpet solo. After remarking that Christmas songs may come and go but that the old ones go on forever, Don asks the audience to join the cast in singing “Silent Night.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads an inspirational Christmas piece that appeared in Sunshine Magazine. Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) makes an appearance and talks about her Christmas shopping list. Next, Don invites those audience members who have loved ones in the service to come forward and send them holiday greetings. A retiree from Wisconsin tells how he went to California to see what a patio was like and found that it was “an umbrella on the rocks.” To conclude the broadcast, Don has the audience say “Merry Christmas” in unison. The orchestra then plays “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” and “Oh, Christmas Tree” as the broadcast closes with the announcement that, This has been a special Christmas holiday presentation of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- March 1961, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Don mentions that the audience is made up mostly of Wisconsin hotel and resort owners. Next, he interviews an 18-year-old boy who is taking his father on a tour that he won through a radio station contest. Don jokes that the boy left his mother at home to slop the hogs. Guest singer Betty Cox sings “Indiana.” Afterwards she admits that she has never been to Indiana. Don interviews court hairdresser Dermot of London and comments on his brogue. (Dermot is Irish.) When asked about the current trends in women’s hairstyles, Dermot says that the “beehive” and “straw thatch” are on the way out since they are too impractical for women to maintain on their own. Women are going back to short hair styles which make them look meek. Dick Noel sings “Baby Face.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads a humorous poem about saying you feel fine even while suffering from the effects of old age. Don’s special guest is actress/author Ilka Chase. Don mentions that Ilka has appeared in 20 Broadway plays and that she is also a columnist and appears on TV panel shows. She is in Chicago to promote her new book Three Men on the Left Hand. [Ilka’s book was published in 1960, so her book tour probably took place early in 1961.] She explains that “Ilka” is Hungarian and that she was named after one of her mother’s friends.) Commenting on Dermot’s earlier appearance, she agrees that the “beehive” hair style is not practical and that it also makes women look older. Regarding all the Westerns that are currently on TV, she remarks that there is a need for fresh new ideas, and that people should read more. Dick Noel sings “April in Paris.” Following an unidentified orchestra number, Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) make an appearance. She says that she is “busier than a fan dancer during molting season,” and that she is helping a friend prepare her income tax return. [This reference to preparing an income tax return would tend to indicate that the broadcast took place around tax time in April.] Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
- March 1961, ABC net. AFRS abridged rebroadcast. The program originates from the College Inn Porter House Room in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman. Don names some of the groups who are attending the broadcast: Girls Scouts, Bluebirds, a Radio Workshop Group, Iowa high school seniors, etc. The orchestra plays “The Breeze and I.” Don introduces guest singer Jeannie Thomas from Deep Creek, Virginia. Jeannie was a former Miss Virginia in the Miss Universe Pageant. She sang in her parents’ orchestra and now writes a beauty column. Don has a group of Bluebirds from Mt. Prospect, Illinois sing their greeting song and repeat the Bluebird pledge. The girls are all in the 3rd grade. One of them presents Don with some fudge. Sam offers to get the girls a can of worms in return, since bluebirds eat worms. Dick Noel sings “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart.” Don interviews a 12-year-old Chicago boy who, when he was 2, accidentally ate some arsenic. The boy says he has a brother who is a radio ham. When asked what kind, he answers “Kosher.” Jeannie sings “I’m Sitting on Top of the World.” Dick sings “How Deep is the Ocean.” For Hymn Time, Jeannie sings “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.” Next comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads “A Little Note on Friendship” which appeared in Sunshine Magazine. Don interviews a lady who is touring the country to introduce a revolutionary new table with no legs. Designed by an aircraft engineer, it has such built-in features as a food warmer, a phone jack, and a television set. Billed as “The Table of Tomorrow,” it is shaped like guitar. Jeannie and Dick sing “True Love.” Next, Dick sings “What’s Cookin’, Cookie?” Don interviews a woman who is a “champion babysitter” with over 30 years of experience. The woman advises parents to hire only reliable babysitters and to check their backgrounds before allowing them into their homes. She doesn’t feel that teenagers make good babysitters for babies. Following the Last Call to Breakfast, the program concludes with the announcement that, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club has come to you through the world-wide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
The Third Call to Breakfast
- June 17, 1965, ABC net. The program originates from the Clouds Room in Chicago’s Allerton Hotel.) [Early in 1963, it appeared that the Hotel Sherman would have to close because its site was needed for the construction of the State of Illinois Center (later renamed the Thompson Center.) Beginning on August 19, 1963, The Breakfast Club began broadcasting from a new location: an upper floor meeting room in the Allerton Hotel that had been converted into a radio studio complete with a stage and a technical control room. Renamed The Clouds Room, it would be the home of The Breakfast Club up through its final broadcast.] Don announces that 10 high school girls from Porter Michigan are in the audience. Following an unidentified orchestra number, Don asks the audience, on the count of three, to pretend to write their names on the floor in the front of them using their foot. Afterwards he tells them that he always likes to start the show by kicking a few names around. A vocal group sings “Saturday Night.” Don mentions that Gemini 4 astronauts McDivitt and White had been in Chicago and that they had appeared before a group of 5,000 youngsters and had answered their questions. When asked if there will be women astronauts, they tactfully answered that there are enough qualified men at present and that women are not needed yet. Don mentions that when astronaut Ed White became the first American to walk in space [on June 3, 1965] he traveled 6,000 miles in 20 minutes. Don said that it took him that long just to get out of a parking lot. Mary Ann Luckett sings “Look Down that Lonesome Road. Afterwards, Don comments on Mary Ann’s black & white striped dress, which inspires some zebra jokes. Don has the audience, on the count of three, smack their lips. This is used as the lead-in to a commercial for Wyler’s Powdered Lemonade Mix. Next, Don interviews a woman from the audience who married an iceman in 1934. Another woman relates that her high school diploma was signed by both her father (who was a school board member) and her husband, who was the school’s principal and whom she married after she graduated. The segment ends with an ABC network identification. The second segment opens with more interviews. A 15-year-old girl says that she is chaperoning her mother on this trip. Don invites the mother to dance with Sam while the orchestra plays a jazz waltz. Bob Newkirk sings “A Taste of Honey.” For Hymn Time, Mary Ann sings “Abide with Me.” Next comes the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads “Prayer for a Bride and Groom.” He then introduces the day’s special guests, actor Don DeFore and his daughter Penny. Penny recounts how she was inspired to go to Soule, Korea after high school to work in an orphanage. Her father had appeared in the movie Battle Hymn, the story of Col. Dean Hess, who had founded an orphanage in Korea. 25 Korean orphans had been flown to Hollywood to appear in the movie and she had met them when she attended a screening of the film at the studio. She left for Korea in December 1960 and ended up working with crippled children. She wrote a book about her experiences titled With All My Heart, which her father hopes to produce as a motion picture that will be filmed on location in Korea. The segment ends with an ABC network identification. The third segment opens with the March Around the Breakfast Table. Don and Sam do a short skit about the Battle of Bunker Hill which leads into a commercial for Juicy Fruit Gum. Members from the audience ask Don DeFore about his career in movies and on TV. (He appeared on the Ozzie and Harriet Show and also in the situation comedy Hazel.) Asked if he married a movie star, he says that he married a Chicago girl who once sang in local hotel and who now just sings in the shower. Don tries to pitch a script idea to Don DeFore, reading a long, convoluted story at a rapid-fire pace. After he finishes, DeFore says the plot is a little thin. Bob and Mary Ann sing “There’s a Chapel in the Valley.” Don does a commercial for Ball Glass Jelly Jars. Don interviews an exchange student from the Netherlands and has her repeat The Breakfast Club opening announcement in Dutch. The segment ends with an ABC network identification. Don and Eddie Ballentine discuss the proper pronunciation of the word eczema, which leads into a commercial for Cuticura Medicated Soap and Cuticura Ointment. Mary Ann sings “Dear Heart.” Next, Sam tells a corny joke about a cannibal who, upon seeing a missionary asleep in a sleeping bag beside the trail says, “Breakfast in bed.” Don mentions that someone wrote on their audience card, “How can Don McNeill be my age when I listened to him as child?” Don explains that he just gets younger. Don introduces Mary Pete, who he sees seated in the audience. Don explains that Mary, who is from Montreal, sends him Memory Time material for time to time. Sam tells a funny story about Eddie Ballantine and his wife “Frou-Frou.” Following the Final Call to Breakfast, the program ends with and ABC network sign-off.
The Last Call to Breakfast
The decision to permanently retire The Breakfast Club occurred during the summer of 1968. Earlier that year, the ABC radio network had been divided into four different networks, each tailored to a particular audience. The American Entertainment Network served the more traditional stations. The American Information Network served stations with talk or all-news programming. The American Contemporary Network was tailored for rock music stations. The American FM Network was created for FM stations. Although intended for the American Entertainment Network, The Breakfast Club, which had been renamed The Don McNeill Show, was fed to all of the new networks, whether it fit their formats or not. WABC in New York, which had a top-forty music format, saw a large portion of its audience tune to another station whenever The Breakfast Club came on. The same was true for AM stations in other major cities. Eventually, these stations opted not to carry The Breakfast Club, thereby reducing its reach. On August 1, 1968, Don McNeill, who was probably ready to retire anyhow, announced that The Breakfast Club would be going off the air at the end of the year.
- September 17, 1968, American Entertainment net. The program originates from the Clouds Room in Chicago’s Allerton Hotel. WLSF-FM air check. The program is introduced as The Don McNeill Show. [While it still followed the traditional Breakfast Club format, the program’s name had to be changed because many of the affiliate stations aired it at times other than in the morning.] The orchestra plays “Music to Watch Girls By.” Don does a commercial for Pream Non-Dairy Creamer. Cathie Taylor sings “My Bonnie Laddie.” [Based on the Scottish tune Scotland the Brave, My Bonnie Lassie had become a popular hit in 1955 when it was recorded by the Ames Brothers. For Cathie’s performance, the title and lyrics were changed to make it more appropriate for a woman to be singing it.] After saying that the show needs more class, Sam reads his comic poem “September Showers.” Singer Bob Newkirk says that he recently bought an antique nickelodeon that plays rolls. When it was first demonstrated to him, it had played “Diane” which is his wife’s name. He then sings “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife.” For Hymn Time, Cathie sings “In the Sweet By and By.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads from a piece that appeared in Sunshine Magazine titled “What Else” and which talks about vacations and what a relief it is when they are over. Don, Sam and Bob do a commercial for Regal Paint Wall Set. Bob sings “High Hopes.” Next, Don interviews a couple from Montreal. The husband was a locomotive engineer for 35 years and is about to retire. Don tells a funny story about the thinking process of a hypochondriac. The orchestra plays “Summer Samba.” With the fall football season soon to start, Don reads a comic poem about football announcers. The first half of the program ends with the announcement There’s lots more of the Don McNeill Show to come on the American Entertainment Network, so don’t go away. We’ll be back. Next comes Paul Harvey News and Commentary: Today is J. C. Penney’s 93 birthday. There is flooding in England with more rain on the way. Detroit: car prices are going up. Nixon’s lead is increasing in the Presidential election race. The second half of The Don McNeill Show opens with March Time. Afterwards, Don interviews an 83-year-old woman who was one of the marchers and who is traveling with her 71-year-old sister. Bob talks about Denny McLain, the first major league pitcher to win 30 games and who also plays the organ. Don gives a comical Las Vegas weather forecast that also includes gambling forecasts. Bob sings “Father of Girls.” Don and Cathie discuss some humorous Pennsylvania Dutch superstitions. Next comes a commercial for Sanka Brand Coffee which is 97% caffeine free. Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) make an appearance and tells about her friend Annie who, although she doesn’t have a radio, picks up Don’s program on her electric blanket. Next comes an unidentified orchestra number. A lady from Niagara Falls asks Don if he’s going to publish another Breakfast Club yearbook. She has the earlier ones and would like something current. Don says he has no immediate plans for another book. When the woman asks Don if the program will continue after he retires, he answers that everyone is retiring. Next, she asks if Eddie Ballentine ever made a recording of “The Toy Trumpet,” which he hasn’t. When she asks if Cliff Peterson is here today, he comes out of the control room to say hello. Don tells some corny jokes that lead into a commercial for Beyer Aspirin. Cathie sings “Amen.” To close the program, Lee Knight, a saxophone player the orchestra plays the novelty number “Corn Ball.” [Lee Knight was one of Don McNeill’s golfing companions.] The broadcast ends with the announcement that The Don McNeill Show came to you from the Clouds Room atop the Hotel Allerton in Chicago. This program is heard overseas through the worldwide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio Network Service as well as this American Entertainment Network.
- September 27, 1968, American Entertainment net. The program originates from the Clouds Room in Chicago’s Allerton Hotel. WLSF-FM air check. After mentioning that this is American Youth Month, Don reads a funny letter from a mother whose son is back in school. The orchestra plays a Tijuana Brass-style arrangement of the Habanera from the opera Carmen. Don interviews a woman from Maryland who lives about 9 miles from Governor Agnew. [Spiro Agnew was Richard Nixon’s vice-presidential running mate in the 1968 election.] While the woman doesn’t know Agnew, she knows his wife. Don has her read the first two lines of a western story to help introduce a commercial for Del Monte “Big Red” products. Bob Newkirk sings “Indian Lake.” Afterwards, Don mentions that Bob is a new father. After a few comments on the pitfalls of automation, there is a commercial for Measurin Pain Reliever. Don mentions that after he announced his retirement, he received a letter from radio station KBIQ in Seattle, Washington, offering him a job as staff announcer. Changing subjects, he says that counting to one billion, if worked at for 8 hours a day, would take 48 years. Cathie Taylor performs In a Mountain Greenery while singing along with a recording of herself doing the harmony part. Next, comes a commercial for Ironized Yeast. For Hymn Time, Bob sings “Perfect Love” which Don had co-written with orchestra leader Eddie Ballantine. Next comes the moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don reads “The Readability Gap” about the jargon that is now in common use. During the reading of a commercial for Regal Wall Satin paint, Stubby (Tom Fouts) interjects some funny rural expressions. Next, Don interviews an Indiana couple who got married when they were 18 and who are now celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Because the husband forgot to get a corsage for this wife, Sam provides a comical substitute. Stubby does a folksong parody as a lead-in to a commercial for Cope pain reliever. The first half of the program ends with the announcement that There’s lots more of the Don McNeill Show to come on the American Entertainment Network, so don’t go away. We’ll be back. Next comes Paul Harvey News and Comment: a tropical storm off Florida is moving away from the mainland. In Vietnam, a Communist attack on Saigon was driven back by the use of darts the size of carpet tacks, fired at point blank range. Third party candidate [George] Wallace is running strong in the presidential race and might very well be the man to beat. A march and rally will take place in Chicago to protest the police actions that were taken during the recent Democratic National Convention that was held there. The second half of The Don McNeill Show opens with Don interviewing George and Rose Matthews, the Pearly King and Queen of London. [Originating the 1880’s, the “Pearlies” were cockney street traders who would decorate their clothing with thousands of mother-of-pearl buttons. Pearlies were treated as royalty and would preside at public events. In 1900, there were some 500 members of Pearly royalty in London. “Pearly” outfits are passed down to the next generation, who continue the tradition.] Rose’s outfit was started by her parents 66 years ago. Her and George’s outfits each have about 30,000 buttons. For “Education Time,” Don reads some comical Chinese fortune cookie fortunes as a lead-in a commercial for Sanka Brand Coffee. Cathie sings “Danny Boy.” At Don’s request, Rose and George sing a cockney song “Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner.” Questioned by Don they admit that they never meet the Beatles or Queen Elizabeth, but they did meet her husband Prince Philip. They came to the U.S. to appear at a British Trade Fair. They will be greeting visitors at King Arthur’s Pub here in Chicago. Next, they will be appearing at a British Trade Fair in Dublin, Ireland. Don mentions that one of his sons went to Oxford for four years and that he has visited England and London. Don asks George about words used in England that have different meanings in the U.S. George gives some examples of cockney slang. To close the program, Dick sings “Shalom.” The broadcast ends with the announcement that The Don McNeill Show came to you from the Clouds Room atop the Hotel Allerton in Chicago. This program is heard overseas through the worldwide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio Network Service as well as this American Entertainment Network.
- November 28, 1968, American Entertainment net. The program originates from the Clouds Room in Chicago’s Allerton Hotel. WLSF-FM air check. During a morning news update it is announced that an earthquake was recorded in Central America. Meetings are taking place in Cairo, Egypt on how deal with student protests. Public enemy Alvin Karpis, who J. Edgar Hoover personally arrested in 1936, is being released and will be deported to Canada. The Don McNeill Show opens with a few bars of the original Breakfast Club theme. Since today is Thanksgiving Day, Don remarks that the trouble with big Thanksgiving dinners is that, after you eat one, in three days you’re hungry again. The orchestra plays a Benny Goodman-type arrangement of Weber’s “Invitation to the Dance.” When asked by Don what she is most thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, Cathie Taylor say that she’s thankful for her family and for the profession she’s in which gives her more freedom. Don reminds her that being an entertainer also gives her the freedom to be out of work. Cathie sings “Tell Me What’d I Say.” Afterwards, while praising Cathie’s performance, Don calls it one of the worst songs he’s ever heard. Next is a skit that recreates the conversations between two Thanksgiving turkeys before and after they are put into the oven. This is followed by a commercial for Measurin Pain Reliever. Don mentions that, over the next few days, there will be an increase in the number of people attending the broadcasts because of all the visitors coming to Chicago for the big International Live Stock Exhibition which will be opening on Friday in the International Amphitheater. Appearing at the Exhibition’s horse show and rodeo will be The Westernaires, a drill team of 30 top riders from Golden, Colorado. Don interviews two sisters who are members of the group. The Westernaires perform a 10-minute precision drill that includes riding through fire, trick riding, and trick roping. Asked if they consider Arthur Godfrey to be a good rider, one of the sisters said that she’s seen him ride on TV and yes, he is pretty good. She also says that Roy Rogers is a fabulous rider, although most movie cowboys aren’t very good. Asked if any of The Westernaires ride side-saddle, the sisters say that the group does have a side-saddle act, but that mostly they ride western. Stubby (Tom Fouts) sings “Never Take Away My Guitar.” For Hymn Time, Bob Newkirk sings “To Be with God.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don recalls events that took place during The Breakfast Club’s 1952 tours of the south and east, and the time that Jerry Lewis visited the show. The first half ends with the announcement that There’s lots more of the Don McNeill Show to come on the American Entertainment Network, so don’t go away. We’ll be back. Next comes Paul Harvey News and Comment, with Art Van Horn filling in for Paul Harvey: In Vietnam, every single man had turkey for Thanksgiving unless they were under fire. President-elect Nixon and his family joined the Eisenhower family at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington for Thanksgiving dinner. [Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the hospital, suffering from congestive heart failure. He died there on March 28, 1969.] Beatle John Lennon was fined $360 in London for the procession of marijuana and resisting the police. Similar charges against his girlfriend Yoko Ono were dropped. A police dog was used to sniff out the marijuana in the couple’s apartment. In Los Angeles, the trial of the man accused of killing Robert Kennedy may be postponed until after Christmas. The second half of the program opens with Stubby relating some interesting facts about turkeys: the leading turkey-raising county in the U.S. is in Virginia. Turkeys are not easy animals to raise. They are not smart birds and can easily be stampeded. Breeders have developed midget turkeys that are mostly white meat, and turkeys that weight 70-100 pounds. Next comes March Time, accompanied by “Make America Proud of You.” Among the marchers are two stewardesses who don’t fly. They are stewardess onboard railroad passenger trains. Cathie sings “Love Letters (Straight from Your Heart).” Don asks “Carlos Lopez” some questions about turkeys. “Carlos” answers every question with “Si.” Next there is a commercial for Ultra-Bright Toothpaste. Don describes how music is programmed into an IMB 7090 computer as numbers on a punch card. He then plays a recording of a computer performing the song “A Bicycle Built for Two.” Next, he plays a recording of a computer singing “A Bicycle Built for Two.” The orchestra plays a Glenn Miller-type “big band” arrangement of “Little Brown Jug.” Following a Measurin commercial, each of the cast members tells what they are most thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. Bob sings “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.” Don concludes the program by saying that he is most thankful for the outdoors, and for the many friends he has made over the years. The broadcast ends with the announcement that The Don McNeill Show came to you from the Clouds Room atop the Hotel Allerton in Chicago. This program is heard overseas through the worldwide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio Network Service as well as this American Entertainment Network.
- November 28, 1968, American Entertainment net. The program originates from the Clouds Room in Chicago’s Allerton Hotel. WLSF-FM air check. Since today is the day after Thanksgiving, Don gives some humorous suggestions for using turkey left-overs. The orchestra plays “Mr. Sandman.” Don mentions that there are some foreign students from Finland, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, and New Jersey in the audience. Next, he talks about some of the phobias which the cast members suffer from. This leads seamlessly into a commercial for Measurin Pain Reliever. Don conducts a comic interview with an “American Indian” who uses a drum to send messages. Next, he gives some new definitions for common items: flashlight: a case in which you keep dead batteries, etc. This leads into a commercial for Olivetti Typewriters. For Hymn Time, Bob Newkirk sings “Each Step I Take.” This is followed by the Moment of Silent Prayer. For Memory Time, Don recalls Breakfast Club events from 1953, including tours of the Pacific Northwest, Canada and a visit to Hollywood, and the 25th Anniversary broadcast on June 23rd. After remarking that the male singer back then was Johnny Desmond, Don plays a record of him singing “I’d Like to Take You Walking.” A Breakfast Club Soap Opera skit leads into a commercial for Ultra-Bright Toothpaste. Cathie Taylor sings “It’s a Long Drop from a Dream” from her latest album to be released on December 3rd. The first half ends with the announcement that There’s lots more of the Don McNeill Show to come on the American Entertainment Network, so don’t go away. We’ll be back. Next comes Paul Harvey News and Comment, with Art Van Horn filling in for Paul Harvey: Next year, Soviet troops will be holding “maneuvers” in Romania. It has been announced that the surtax will be maintained for the present. [In 1968, the U.S. Government added a 10% surtax on individual and corporate incomes to help pay for the war in Vietnam.] In Marshall, Michigan, evacuations have become necessary because of natural gas leaking from the ground. President-elect Nixon has sent a representative to the Middle East for talks with Israel and Egypt. The second half of the Don McNeill Show opens with Don interviewing a student from Hawaii who will be going home for Christmas for the first time in four years. Don offers to let her call her mother to let her know that she’s coming home. Don then mentions that he wrote the song “I Could Never Learn to Hula” after a trip to Hawaii. He also mentions that former Breakfast Club singer Jack Owens wrote “The Hukilau Song” which became a big hit, and which is still performed in Hawaii. Following a commercial for Measurin, Bob mentions that he has a recording session for Mercury Records that afternoon. Don interviews a high school English teacher from the St. Louis area who is a member of the World Association for the Celebration of the Year 2000. This interview is interrupted when the student from Hawaii is able to get a phone call through to her family. With everyone listening in, she talks with her brother, who tells her their mother is at work. Returning to the interview with the English teacher, he says that the purpose of the Year 2000 group is to help young people look upon the future with hope. The group plants Year 2000 trees around the world to help promote discussions leading to the exchange of ideas. Don mentions that a discussion is an exchange of ideas while an argument is an exchange of ignorance. Next, Don asks the foreign student from Malaysia what he sees for his country in the future. The student hopes for improvements and modernization. Don then asks him about the tricks that the girls in his country used to ensnare men. The student replies that the girls in Malaysia are conservative and shy and that the men must take the initiative. This same answer is given by the students from Vietnam and Peru. The orchestra plays “Muskrat Ramble.” After mentioning that Anita Bryant used to sing on The Breakfast Club, Don plays a record of her singing “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music. Next, he interviews an 86-year-old man from the audience who is there with a woman he met on a tour 20 months ago. Asked if they play to get married, the woman answers, “He hasn’t asked me yet.” After some more Indian drumming, the program ends with the announcement that The Don McNeill Show came to you from the Clouds Room atop the Hotel Allerton in Chicago. This program is heard overseas through the worldwide facilities of the Armed Forces Radio Network Service as well as this American Entertainment Network.
- December 27, 1968, American Entertainment net. The program originates from the Clouds Room in Chicago’s Allerton Hotel. WLSF-FM air check. Don McNeill opens his final broadcast by defining “end” as the part where a thing begins or ends and that “today is the end where she stops.” He adds that he was on hand for both ends, and that the thirty-five-and-a-half years between the two ends were a great treasure for him. After vowing not to tell a corny joke on the last show, he proceeds to tell a corny joke. After referring to Don as a “legend in his own time,” singer Bob Newkirk thanks Don for the five-and-a-half years that he appeared on the show. Next, the orchestra plays the “Bowling Polka,” which was written by long-time Breakfast Club announcer Ed McKean. Don mentions that he’d been out with the Hong Kong flu for the last several days, but that he wanted to be on hand for the final broadcast. [The program had actually been taped the week before in front of an audience that included friends and family of the cast.] Orchestra leader Eddie Ballantine plays a number he calls “Music to get over the flu with” and which is punctuated with sneezes and coughs. In his goodbye remarks, Sam Cowling thanks the listeners for their loyal support over the years. This same sentiment is echoed by Ed McKean and Eddie Ballantine. The orchestra then plays an unidentified “big band” number that features Eddie playing a trumpet solo. After thanking Don, the cast and the musicians, singer Cathie Taylor reads a short poem that she had written for Don. She then sings “Sam’s Lullaby,” a comic song about a baby that had been written by Sam. After mentioning that Cathie is the last of The Breakfast Club girl singers, Don introduces Annette King (Charlotte Reid), who is in the audience and who had been one of the show’s first girl singers back in the mid-1930s. [Charlotte Thompson Reid also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1963 to 1971 as the representative from Aurora, Illinois.] Next, Don introduces his youngest son Bob, who is an investment counselor in Chicago and the father of two children. Bob Newkirk sings “Perfect Love,” which Don co-wrote with Eddie Ballantine. The first half ends with the announcement that There’s lots more of the Don McNeill Show to come on the American Entertainment Network, so don’t go away. We’ll be back. Next comes Paul Harvey News and Comment: The spacemen are hurtling towards earth and will be recovered by the USS Yorktown in the dark. [This was the Apollo 8 crew that had circled the moon as a precursor to the Apollo 11 moon landing. The splashdown occurred at about the same time that many Americans were listening to the end of the final Breakfast Club broadcast.] NASA expects to have a man on the moon by next April. [The moon landing did not take place until July.] Madalyn Murray O’Hare, the woman who got prayers removed from public schools is demanding that the astronauts be forbidden from praying in outer space. The Hong Kong flu epidemic is increasing. A new and efficient home furnace has been developed that is about the size of a 2-pound coffee can. Actress Connie Stevens (Mrs. Eddie Fisher) is the mother of a baby girl. Walter Winchell, Jr., 33, who was working as a dishwasher and living on welfare, has committed suicide. The second half of the Don McNeill Show opens with Don taking questions from audience members. When someone asks if any of the original Breakfast Club cast are still with the show, Don answers that orchestra leader Eddie Ballantine was a trumpet player in the orchestra during the first broadcast. Asked if he could recall one of the funnier “bloopers” he made over the years, Don answers that he made so many that he can’t separate one from another. Don introduces Stormy Bobula, a loyal listener who has been attending Breakfast Club broadcasts for 27 years and who has radios all over her house, so she wouldn’t miss hearing the show while doing her daily chores. Someone asks if there is a scrapbook with the material that was used on the show over the years. Don mentions the yearbooks that used to be published. Cathie sings “Tomorrows are Made for People Like You.” Next, Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) reads a poem that she had written for the occasion and which expresses her appreciation for all the joy the program has brought her. Next, Don introduces puppeteer Burr Tillstrom who, along with Fran Allison, did the popular Kukla, Fran and Ollie children’s TV show. Kukla, Ollie and other members of the “Kuklapolitan” crew wish Don a happy retirement. Also in the audience in Dick Noel, who was a Breakfast Club singer for seven-and-a-half years. Don acknowledges engineer Ralph Davey. Stubby (Tom Fouts) expresses how much he enjoyed the three years that he was with the show. Don also acknowledges stagehand Bobby Becker and producer Cliff Peterson. Next, he introduces his wife Kay, mentioning that his other two sons Tom and Don, Jr. couldn’t make it to the last show. Kay remarks that now that Don is retiring, they’ll have even more time to babysit their grandchildren. Don mentions that he also plans to teach some seminars at a couple of universities. Don concludes by saying,
Breakfast Club Log:
(If) there’s been any secret of success in this show it’s believability. I do stumble around and I do make mistakes, but I mean everything I say and have all these years.
Nothing I would say could mean more than having all of you, many of you, sometimes three generations of you, with me all these years. And so, I hope you’ll be seeing me and hearing me hither and yon someplace. I wish all of you the greatest of success and happiness.
The program ends with the Moment of Silent Prayer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Beheim is a life-long radio enthusiast. A former commanding officer of a Naval Reserve Combat Camera unit based in San Diego.
Eric Beheim leads a multi-faceted career as a free-lance writer, professional musician, and owner of his own music and sound project studio.
Born in the first wave of "baby boomers" he grew up with radio and remains a life-long radio enthusiast. His particular interests are collecting news and commentary programs from the late 1930s and early 1940s (including World War II news), and programs that feature performances of operettas and musical theater presentations.
Read more about Eric Behiem...
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