|The Life and Times of Colonel Stoopnagle: Part 3, Going It Alone|
In 1937, the unthinkable happened; Taylor and Hulick parted company. Neither man ever publicly discussed the
reasons, although it could be reasoned that Hulick grew weary of always playing
‘second banana’ to
"Col. Stoopnagle is making the first of a series of scheduled lone appearances on the [Rudy] Vallee program calculated eventually to build him up along the route taken by Bob Burns, Charlie McCarthy and Joe Penner. The colonel's backers and advisers hope to make Stoopnagle a staple character rather than the many-voice mimic he has been in the past..."
broadening his exposure,
January of 1938, Stoopnagle and Italian news announcer Lisa Sergio were crowned
that year’s ‘King and Queen of Winter’ by Lowell Thomas at
“Leave it to Col. Stoopnagle to rescue a dying
duck and make it suitable for the king's taste.
If the Colonel keeps up this pace until the Allen return, Fred should find a tremendous following for "Town Hall Tonight" when he takes charge again October 5...”
“A straw is stuff that you drink a soda through two of them.
A clock is something they have in an office so you can tell how late you wish you weren't in the morning, what time you go to lunch before and come back after, and how long before you can start stopping work and begin to end the day's work by stalling along until.
Pacific Ocean is what the
Afternoon is what if you were out late last night, you'd better hurry or you won't be up until.
A fortnight is a thing that, in an English play, somebody hasn't seen Lord Plushbottom in a, practically.
Gasoline is stuff that if you don't use good in your car it won't run as well as if.
The dickens are things that, in a new car, for the first 500 miles you shouldn't drive like the.
of this was completely lost on the average radio audience, while others
demanded more. Often he’d treat his
audiences to a fairy tale or fable told in spoonerism, a favorite routine he’d
return to over and over for the rest of his career. Perhaps one of the reasons for
"Whimsy is what I want to do more than anything else, but I have to sort of sneak it in -- it's not commercial. Generally, the sponsors prefer jokes because they hit more people. Whimsy may miss a lot of folks but those it strikes are highly amused and remember it. People still write me about bits of whimsy they heard on my program years ago."
studio Astor Productions obviously saw marketability in
Astor Productions 10 minutes
Packed with wholesome, solid laughs, this short is the first of a brand new series, well conceived and calculated to spread mirth among even the most serious of pix fans. Basically, it employs satire as its principal weapon, delineating common human-interest attributes in a most uncommon way. Blazing new trails in humor, this initial subject is the stuff audiences will invariably like, and the series, featuring Colonel Stoopnagle, will, assuming that subsequently produced reels keep to the standard of the inaugural one, gain rapid popularity. Colonel Stoopnagle is highly amusing via both action and voice. The several sequences were all swell gags, -- that of the telephone booth; the kid singer; the senator; and particularly the rousing household hint footage. It's a "natural" for all pix theaters and all strata of fans.
This is the second of the Colonel Stoopnagle series of a total of 12 to be released by Astor Productions during 1938-39. Its content is highly humorous, with the clownish Colonel giving a riotous "spiel" on camera secrets. This is followed by a grand sequence titled "Do you get proper exercise?"; an episode dealing with an operatic star; "Polo Made Simple"; and a finale of the Colonel on a roller coaster. Footage is both funny and clever, and its only disappointing side is that it is not at least twice as long. Laughs come in rapid order from first to last.”
Stoopnagle: If you bought apples at two cents each and sold them for a nickel, how would you still lose money?
Answer: If I had a hole in my pants pocket.
Quixie Doodle proved to be one of
“Wonder how many listeners recognized the
voice of F. Chase Taylor who pinched-hit for the vacationing Lowell Thomas on
WJZ last night. In case you didn’t, Mr.
Taylor was the portly
his lengthy stint on the Quixie Doodles
following year, in 1944,
“It’s too bad that no one ever called the late James Joyce’s attention to Colonel Stoopnagle. For I’ll bet anything that the great Irish writer would back up my opinion that this radio comedian and writer is a Great Man.
“Which means, of course, that the Colonel slays me. And that in his fine stream of consciousness chatter and in his playing around with word origination, his only peer is James Joyce -- or have you forgotten that word which stands for the noise of thunder on page 1 of Finnegan’s Wake? (An admirer of Joyce, I mean this seriously.)...”
Allen, who wrote the foreward for
book, Father Goosenagle (
began to circulate that there would be a revival of the Stoopnagle and Budd
program, without Budd Hulick. By this
time, his former partner had been off the air for a year, and
“CBS after much experimentation with Col.
Stoopnagle, following the chism of the team he formerly comprised with Budd
Hulick, has finally evolved upon a format for this funster which should, in due
time, place him back on the top rungs of the radio comedy ladder.
“The web has not stinted with the budget nor with the talent in molding a new airline life for this veteran. He has been given some topflight material, situations and support by writers Dave Schwartz and Peter Barry, and producer Herb Polesie, one of the better ether pilots. As a result, Col. Stoopnagle is a folksy guy giving advice and taking a little himself -- sound programming audience-wise and, ere long, commercially as well.
“Theme of this new show, heard at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday nights, is ‘How To Be Happy, Though People...”
began to happen for
“I was too far ahead of time with my stuff...In a way, the comedy of Henry Morgan and Milton Berle is similar to what I did fifteen to twenty years ago...My satires emphasized the light and whimsical side, however. Then there were the inventions and mixed up dialogue...The sponsors liked the stuff, at least until their branch managers throughout the country started writing in wanting to know what it was all about. Before long I would be working for someone else. It’s tough being a pioneer. There are some nibbles from sponsors and if the public continues to show signs of wanting more of the whimsy, I’ll be ready to go. I like to do it.”
after his summer as star of The Colonel,
“We have nothing to fear. The country is in good hands when the young folks today take over. Today is an age of frankness. Frankness is a mark of decent parents and decent kids. This is a lot more wholesome than the taboos of 30 years ago.”
about a year, Polacheck recounts, he was busy directing outdoor and remote
sporting events and the like. But it
wasn’t long before CBS decided that television was indeed going to catch on,
and the network began planning popular programming. The network had its experimental television
production studio and offices located in a large, unused section of Grand
Central Station in 1948. One of the
first programs to reach serious production stage was a children’s show to
feature actor/dancer Buddy Ebsen telling stories to kids on his front porch, an
elaborate, costly set. The program was
to be broadcast for 15 minutes at five p.m., Monday through Friday. Charles Polacheck remembers that an executive
with the network had a "better idea," that the program should be
broadcast for an hour on Saturdays.
Ebsen, who suddenly realized that his 75 minutes of airtime per week was
being reduced to an hour, balked and abandoned the project. This left CBS with a very expensive piece of
scenery, Polacheck says, and nothing to do with it. But even after trying
another concept with comedy duo Mason and
executive Jerry Danzig approached Charles Polacheck with the offer to direct a
program to feature the porch and Colonel Stoopnagle. Polacheck was negative from the start,
program, to be titled Colonel Stoopnagle’s
Stoop, would feature F. Chase Taylor using the same type of material he was
then currently using in his newspaper columns, "cobbled together"
into a script. Polacheck was still
dubious, thinking it an "awful idea."
And the biggest blow of all was that CBS was refusing to allow the
program to be performed before a studio audience. Still, Polacheck got along well with his
A ‘demo’ was planned, whereby the program would be performed and ‘piped into’ the front office for network executives to see. Polacheck "went through the motions" of directing the Colonel’s program, and when it was over slid the script into his back pocket and walked directly from the control room into the executive office...where he found the network’s big-wigs "still aching from laughter. They thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen." Polacheck began to wonder if he’d misjudged the whole thing.
following Monday night, Polacheck and Stoopnagle went through the program once
again. Only this time, it was broadcast
to the public. The new station manager
was present that night, and for several days was very cool toward the director. One day, he summoned Polacheck into his
"It was the least funny comedy show I’ve ever seen," Polocheck remembers of Colonel Stoopnagle’s Stoop, 50 years later. He insists that Stoopnagle’s humor had been best generated by his interplay with Budd, years before. The director, incidentally, moved over to the Dumont Network where he became the first producer/director of the groundbreaking science fiction show Captain Video. He eventually ended up at NBC where he was associated with, among other projects, the venerable soap opera The Edge of Night.
"The trick introduction flashes Godfrey himself on screen giving the pitch for his talent display and crusade. Then the celluloid Godfrey and Stoopnagle in person have a spot of dialog. The screen isn't all that answers back to the colonel. He reads letters that give him back-talk, commits Spoonerisms (a kind of back-talk) and puns outrageously. Example: referring to two girls, "You can't have your Kay and Edith, too!"
with television about to become a force to be reckoned with, one can but wonder
May of 1950,
“Tonight the world of fun and laughs is
bidding farewell to Colonel Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle. Today, in
the Hartford Courant ran the
following tribute, which sums up
“Colonel Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle is
dead. And so, at fifty-two, is Frederick
Chase Taylor, the former business man and broker who created radio’s well-known
nonsense-peddler. Like Charlie McCarthy,
Colonel Stoopnagle promptly eclipsed his creator, and began to live a mad life
of his own.
“On and off for 20 years the Stoopnagle personality produced confusion, surprise, and sometimes sheer delight as it cavorted over the airwaves...
“Yet, if Colonel Stoopnagle dealt in nonsense as a commodity, he offered his appreciative public more than that. His humor was never contrived at anyone else’s expense, and in its wild fits and starts it was always unmistakably his own. He was more than a comedian, as the term has come to be used in our age of assembly-line humor. He was a satirist. He derived great amusement, which he passed on to others, from the foibles of mankind.
“...The mad inventor was not the man of the century. He didn’t even have a major influence on his times. But he did find an inexhaustible source of humor in the commonplace, and he made countless listeners laugh without anyone’s being hurt by it. That in itself is a worthy epitaph.”
 Reed, Rod.
 The Film Daily, 6 September 1938.
 Zwart, Elizabeth Clarkson. “Col. Stoopnagle Persuades Reviewer That He
Is a Great
 Hulick reportedly ended up back on
 ‘Sten.’ Variety, date unknown.
 “The Whimsy He Introduced On Air Is Catching On Again.” New York Times, 1947.
 Himle, Norman. “Stoopnagle Grilled Here.”
Page created November 13, 2006. Copyright 1998-2005 by Richard D. Squires.