Don McNeill's "Breakfast Club"


[From "Twenty Years of Corn"

When a studio visitor asked why Breakfast Club didn't give things away, Don McNeill took a listener's poll. When 99 percent replied, "don't spoil the show with material giveaways," Don designated the show of November 7 for the audience to do the giving. Gifts valued at $10,000 were given by 600 persons from 24 states. Included were food, clothing, coal, vacuum cleaners, a refrigerator and an electric range. All the gifts were distributed to the needy of Chicagoland.

19-year old Patsy Lee, one of the many guest songstresses who appeared on the show after Marian Mann and Nancy Martin left, became a regular in October. She had been singing professionally in the San Francisco area since she was 16.

More than 50,000 persons sought Breakfast Club tickets when the show originated in the New York area for two weeks. An overflow crowd of 4,500 turned out to see their favorite in Brooklyn. The Toni company took over sponsorship of the first quarter hour in September. For Don's 40th birthday on December 23, the cast dressed as four-year olds. Don was outfitted in a Lord Fauntleroy suit; Sam modeled a baby's outfit; Jack was the barefoot boy and Patsy wore a pinafore.

A few days earlier the McNeill's family broadcast was unusually gay because it marked 13-year old Tommy's first public appearance since his recovery from polio. When Don told about the crisis, listeners showered Tommy with 15,000 cards and letters.

Right: Aunt Fanny (Fran Allison) and Don examine the "loot" Breakfast Clubbers brought to the "giveaway-in-reverse" show.

Left: Patsy Lee, the Oakland, Calif. thrush.

Right: Don and Kay McNeill and their three sons (Don, Tom and Bob) with Fran Allison (Aunt Fanny), vocalist Patsy Lee and Sam Cowling

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