Au Revoir, “Blondie” & Dorothy

Dorothy Loudon Penny Singleton Today, we are missing two grand women of Hollywood and Broadway: Penny Singleton and Dorothy Loudon. Deepest condolences go out to their families, colleagues, and fans.

Penny Singleton, the actor best known for bring comic-strip character Blondie Bumstead to life and for giving voice to TV cartoon mom Jane Jetson, died Nov. 12 at Sherman Oaks Hospital in California. Her passing at age 95 occurred two weeks after she had suffered a stroke.

From the Associated Press:

Penny Singleton The Blondie series, which had 28 films from 1938 to 1950, was based on the cartoon strip about the misadventures of a small town family created by Chic Young in 1930. Arthur Lake played Blondie’s husband, the bumbling Dagwood Bumstead.

Among the films: Blondie Meets the Boss, Blondie Plays Cupid and Blondie Knows Best.

“I’m proud and grateful I was Blondie,” Singleton said in a 1973 book on film serials, Saturday Afternoon at the Bijou.

“She was dumb and shrewish sometimes,” she said. “But she was real and sympathetic and warm, a real woman, a human being. And that’s how I tried to play her.” …

No one else ever played Blondie and Dagwood on the big screen. Two later Blondie TV series were short-lived.

Singleton in her later years. After her stint as Blondie, Singleton was the voice of Jane Jetson in “The Jetsons,” Hanna-Barbera’s 21st century counterpart to their highly successful “Flintstones” cartoon family. The show ran in prime time for just one season, 1962-63, but has been widely seen in reruns. …

Singleton also appeared in the 1964 film The Best Man but spent most of her time touring in nightclubs and roadshows of plays and musicals such as “Call Me Madam.”

Dorothy Loudon And then there is Dorothy Loudon, who struck fear into the hearts of orphans and theater fans everywhere as Miss Hannigan in the Broadway classic “Annie.” She was so terrific in the part that she snagged a Tony Award for her efforts in 1977. Loudon died Nov. 15 of cancer at a New York Hospital at the age of 70.

The New York Times remembers Loudon fondly:

With a big, brassy voice, bulging blue eyes and a mesmerizing array of facial gymnastics, Ms. Loudon created the perfect villain in Miss Hannigan, a screaming, scheming, boozing harridan whose “Little Girls” number brought down the house eight times a week.

Ms. Loudon’s was the standout performance of the 1977-78 theater season, no small feat in a year that featured the likes of Al Pacino, Julie Harris and Colleen Dewhurst. She won the Tony Award for leading actress in a musical over her 13-year-old co-star, Andrea McArdle, who played the title role.

Her success in “Annie” came after a life devoted to performing, a career that included television, film and roles in Broadway shows both acclaimed and better off forgotten. She was nominated for two other Tony Awards: in 1979 for “Ballroom,” which lasted only four months; and in 1969 for “The Fig Leaves Are Falling,” which ran only four days.

Ms. Loudon’s success in “Annie” led to several more Broadway roles, including “West Side Waltz” (1981), opposite Katharine Hepburn, and “Noises Off” (1983), as a diva in a sinking production.

Although she was passed over for the role of Miss Hannigan in the movie version of “Annie” – [Carol] Burnett was cast – Ms. Loudon did a few films, including “Garbo Talks” (1984) and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” (1997).

Her association with fabulous flops resumed in 1990, when she appeared in “Annie 2,” the much-maligned sequel, which closed on the road. Last year, she was forced by deteriorating health to withdraw from the Broadway revival of “Dinner at Eight.”

There are two more stars in the firmament today. Rest in peace, ladies.

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