Highlights from

The 1953 Breakfast Club Year Book

Don McNeill didn't mind being called corny. As he told Edward R. Murrow during the course of a 1958 "Person to Person" broadcast, "I consider that a compliment if people mean typical American humor. I always think corn is something somebody scoffs as because somebody else said it before they thought of it themselves."

Here's a chance to learn more about Don and his remarkably long-lived "Breakfast Club" radio broadcast by viewing some of the original text and photos from the 1953 Breakfast Club yearbook.

Follow the links below and learn about the show's first twenty years (there were still fifteen years to follow!):

Don McNeill the family man. "Breakfast Club" made the nation part of the family. Here, you can learn a little bit about the family from which Don McNeill came.

Don's early years in radio (1928-1933): From Marquette University in Milwaukee to NBC's Merchandise Mart studios in Chicago.

The "Breakfast Club" formula. It worked for thirty-five years.

1933. The Breakfast debuts.

1934. The show grows, as do the families of its cast members.

1935. The Breakfast Club adapts to the swing era and Don pays tribute to the early-rising staff musicians.

1936. Kudos from the industry but still no national sponsor.

1937. Fran Allison (as "Aunt Fanny") and Sam Cowling join the show.

1938. The "Four Vagabonds" join the show. Still no national sponsor.

1939. The Breakfast Club, still in search of a sponsor, celebrates its 2,000th broadcast.

1940. Local sponsorships are sold on individual stations. NBC plans a major push to sell Breakfast Club nationally.

1941. Swift & Co. signs on as Breakfast Club's first network sponsor.

1942. The Breakfast Club mobilzes for the war effort.

1943. The Breakfast Club celebrates its 3000th broadcast with fifteen staffers serving in the armed forces.

1944. A million Americans sign up to become charter members of the Breakfast Club; and Don introduces the "moment of silent prayer".

1945. Capacity crowds greet Don as the Breakfast Club tours the East Coast. Philco becomes a sponsor.

1946. The Breakfast Club celebrates its 4,000th broadcast.

1947. Breakfast Club fans mob Madison Square Garden during another eastern tour. Patsy Lee joins the cast and Toni signs up as a sponsor.

1948. Don stages a mock campaign for President. In some cases he draws larger crowds that Harry Truman, Thomas Dewer or Strom Thurmond. He ends his campaign in August.

1949. Vocalist Johnny Desmond joins the cast.

1950. Don inks a 20-year contract with ABC and gives television a try.

1951. Southern and eastern tours draw large crowds.

1952. The Breakfast Club moves from the Civic Theater to the Morrison Hotel.

Introduction and main index to this site
WMAQ radio history | "Amos 'n' Andy" | "Fibber McGee and Mollie" | "The Breakfast Club"
Dick Kay | Television at the Merchandise Mart | 1970 television facilities tour | Channel 5 turns 20
The "Chicago School" of television | "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" | Dave Garroway | Mary Hartline
"Lights Out" | Sound effects | 1930 studio tour | WLS | "Empire Builders" | Barry Bernson
Floyd Kalber | The Queen of Love and Beauty | "Today's Children" | Staff announcers | Carol Marin
Ron Magers | Studs Terkel l "Chicago Tonight" | Channel 5 News scrapbooks |Roger Miller recalls
Zoo Parade | Clifton and Frayne Utley | Val Press | Len O'Connor | Johnny Erp | Bill Ray | Daddy-O
Experimental Television: 1930-1933 | Bob Deservi | Kermit Slobb | Ding Dong School | Quiz Kids
Bob Lemon | The Korshak Chronicles | KYW: The Chicago Years | WENR | O.B. Hanson | Renzo
Jack Eigen | Ed Grennan | The World's Best Cup of Coffee | Glenn Webster | Mr. Piano | Hawkins Falls
Chicago Television for Kids |
Radio Hall of Fame |The NBC News Night Report: 23 February, 1967
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