Born in Decatur, Michigan in 1903, Edgar Bergen developed a talent for ventriloquism
at a young age. When Bergen asked a local carpenter to create a
dummy, the wisecracking Charlie McCarthy was born. The duo began
their career as talent show headliners, performing in Chicago while
Bergen attended Northwestern University. Bergen eventually left
Northwestern to concentrate on performing, but Charlie received
an honorary degree from the school in 1938, a Master of Innuendo
and Snappy Comebacks.
Bergen and McCarthy made their radio debut on Rudy Vallees
Royal Gelatin Hour in 1936 and were an instant success. In 1937,
they were given their own show for Chase & Sanborn. Almost immediately,
The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show became one of radios
highest-rated programs, a distinction it enjoyed until it left the
air in 1956.
During the shows two decades on the air, Bergen added new
characters to the show, including the slow-witted Mortimer Snerd
and the man-hungry spinster Effie Klinker. Today, Charlie McCarthy,
Mortimer Snerd and Effie Klinker are on permanent display at the
Radio Hall of Fame.
Edgar Bergen died on October 1, 1978.
The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show was inducted into
the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.
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