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Subject: ARCHIVE: November 12, 2003 ~Hollywood actress Penny Singleton, best remembered for her role as 'Blondie Bumstead' in the many 'Blondie' movies that were popular from 1938 to 1950, later became the 1st woman president of an AFL-CIO union, fondly remembered by TV audiences as voice of 'Jane Jetson' in cartoon series "The Jetsons", dies at 95. ...
American actress, voice actress and labor leader. During her 60-year career, Singleton appeared as the comic-strip heroine Blondie Bumstead in a series of 28 motion pictures from 1938 until 1950 and the popular Blondie radio program from 1939 until 1950. Singleton also provided the voice of Jane Jetson in the animated series The Jetsons from 19621963 and 19851987. Behind the scenes, Singleton served two terms as president of the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA), and testified before a Senate subcommittee in 1962 on the union's treatment of women variety workers.
Early life & early Career
Singleton was born in Philadelphia, the daughter of Bernard J. "Benny" McNulty and Mary Dorothy McNulty. Her father was a newspaperman. Singleton began performing professionally as a child, and only completed sixth grade in her schooling. Singleton sang at a silent movie theater, and toured in vaudeville as part of an act called "The Kiddie Kabaret". She sang and danced with Milton Berle, whom she knew since childhood, and actor Gene Raymond, and appeared on Broadway in Jack Benny's The Great Temptations. She also toured in nightclubs and roadshows of plays and musicals.
...Singleton appeared as a nightclub singer in After the Thin Man, credited as Dorothy McNulty. She was cast opposite Arthur Lake (as Dagwood) in the feature film Blondie in 1938, based on the comic strip by Chic Young. They repeated their roles on a radio comedy beginning in 1939 and in guest appearances on other radio shows. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDRgmr8EKfU
...As Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead, they proved so popular that a succession of 27 sequels was made from 1938 until 1950, with the radio show ending the same year. Singleton's husband Robert Sparks produced 12 of these sequels. Also in 1950, she had her own program, The Penny Singleton Show, on NBC radio.
Singleton held top billing in Go West, Young Lady (1941), over her male co-star, Glenn Ford.
Only two other female stars (Dorothy Page and Jane Frazee) were top-billed singing cowgirls
at the time. She provided the voice of Jane Jetson in the 196263 animated series, The Jetsons.
Singleton was active in union affairs, as a vocal member of the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA). She was elected president of the AGVA in 1958-1959, and again in 1969-1970. Her union membership was suspended in 1962, when she was accused of slandering some of the union's officers, and she countersued. She testified on the exploitation of women in variety work, and the union's shortcomings in representing those workers, before a United States Senate subcommittee in 1962. "I charge here and now that the exotic and strip artists have been abandoned and made outcasts by the very union to which they pay dues for representation and protection," she announced to the subcommittee.
Singleton was reinstated as a union member in 1963, after the dispute reached a legal settlement. In 1967, she led a successful month-long strike by the Radio City Rockettes for better working conditions. During her presidency, she led negotiations with Disney, during a variety artists' strike at Disneyland in 1970.
Singleton, seen here with screen husband Arthur "Dagwood" Lake, and Lake's real-life wife Patricia Lake. ..
Personal life and legacy
Singleton married Laurence Scroggs Singleton, a dentist, in 1937; they divorced in 1939. She was
married to Robert C. Sparks, a Marine Corps officer and film producer, from 1941 until his death in 1963.
...Singleton had two daughters, Dorothy and Susan. She was a Roman Catholic
and a Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential election.
For her contributions to both radio and the motion-picture industry, in 1960,
Singleton was honored with two stars as she was inducted to the Hollywood Walk
of Fame. The star for radio is located at 6811 Hollywood Boulevard, and her
film star is just a few footsteps away, at 6547 Hollywood Boulevard.
On November 12, 2003, Singleton died at the age of 95
of respiratory failure, in Sherman Oaks, CA, and was
interred at Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, Ca.