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
1950. Don inks a 20-year contract
with ABC and gives television a try.
1951. Southern and eastern tours draw
1952. The Breakfast Club moves from
the Civic Theater to the Morrison Hotel.