biographies

Arthur Lake (1905-1987)
Born Arthur Silverlake in Kentucky on April 17, 1905, Arthur Lake was born into show business, as his parents had a vaudeville act which he joined while still a youth. In the late 1910s, the family made its way to California, where Arthur Lake would soon enter films as a juvenile lead. In 1924, Lake signed with Universal Studios and acted in many silent short subjects, nearly all of them comedies. But when Lake's contract was up in 1930, Universal dropped his option, sending his career into decline. Lake freelanced at Monogram, RKO, and other studios until signing a contract with Columbia Pictures in 1938 to portray Dagwood Bumstead in the Blondie series of films. The popularity of the first film, Blondie, in 1938 led to three follow-up films in 1939 and the introduction of the CBS radio series of the same name.

Arthur Lake

Mid 1940s Columbia promotional photo of Arthur Lake

Suddenly, Lake was famous but soon became so identified with the role that he rarely portrayed another character. In total, Columbia released 28 Blondie films, but the series---and Lake's career---ended following the release of Beware of Blondie in 1950. In 1957, Lake returned to the Dagwood role in the short-lived Blondie television series, with Penny Singleton being replaced by Pamela Britton. When the series was canceled, Lake retired from the screen and concentrated on his sizable business interests and dabbled in stage acting. He retired in the early 1970s and passed away on January 9, 1987, at the age of 81. Lake's wife, Patricia, whom he married in 1937, was actually the illegitimate daughter of actress Marion Davies and newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst.

Penny Singleton (1908-2003)
Born Dorothy McNulty in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 15, 1908, beautiful brunette Penny Singleton practically grew up onstage, starting out in vaudeville while still a child. Singleton's song-and-dance routine was highly successful, ensuring her a lot of Broadway exposure by the late 1920s. By the mid 1930s Singleton was a song-and-dance veteran, yet her career had reached its peak. She then left New York for Hollywood, picking up small supporting roles in films. Upon marrying Dr. Lawrence Singleton in 1937, she ceased using 'Dorothy McNulty' and changed her name to Penny Singleton. The following year, when actress Shirley Deane backed out of the role of Blondie, Singleton bleached her hair blond and was signed by Columbia.

Penny Singleton

Early 1940s Columbia promotional photo of Penny Singleton

While the film series and radio show had become a success, Singleton's marriage withered and soon ended. She then married producer Robert Sparks, in 1941. Sparks produced the first twelve films in the Blondie series before he enlisted in the Marines during World War II. Singleton stuck with Blondie until the series fizzled in 1950. She returned to her performing for live audiences in the 1950s, and in the early 1960s signed on to voice the character of Jane Jetson in Hanna-Barbera Productions' The Jetsons, first aired by ABC in the fall of 1962. Singleton stuck with the role after her husband's death in 1963 and continued to lend her vocal talents to Jetsons animation through the late 1980s. Penny Singleton passed away on November 12, 2003, following a stroke.

columbia's blondie series

Blondie on a Budget (1940) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Larry Simms, Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake, and Rita Hayworth

In Blondie on a Budget, Rita Hayworth portrays Dagwood's old girlfriend, Joan. Also pictured is Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling

Blondie Plays Cupid (1940) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton

Lobby card from Blondie Plays Cupid, one of the funniest films in the series

Blondie Goes to College (1942) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton

Lake and Singleton in a promotional photo from Blondie Goes to College

Footlight Glamour (1943)

Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton

Singleton and Lake camp it up in Footlight Glamour, one of just two films in the series that did not include 'Blondie' in its title; the other film is It's a Great Life (also released in 1943)

Leave It to Blondie (1945)

Arthur Lake and Penny SingletonArthur Lake

LEFT: Lake and Singleton in a promotional photo from Leave It to Blondie. RIGHT: Lobby card

Blondie's Big Moment (1947)

Oewnny Singleton, Anita Louise, and Arthur Lake

With Anita Louise in Blondie's Big Moment

Blondie's Reward (1948)

Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton

Lobby card from Blondie's Reward, with Larry Simms as Alexander and Marjorie Ann Mutchie as Cookie.

Blondie's Big Deal (1949)

Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton

In Blondie's Big Deal, Dagwood gets roughed up by thugs who want to steal his formula for fireproof paint

Blondie's Hero (1950)

Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton

In Blondie's Hero, the penultimate film in the series, Dagwood prepares to join an Army Reserve unit

Beware of Blondie (1950)

Arthur Lake and Dick Wessel

From Beware of Blondie, the 28th and last of Columbia's Blondie series. Also pictured is Dick Wessel

blondie films available from movies unlimited

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Blondie, Vol. 1 [DVD] DVD
Chic Young's comic-strip look at married life was brought to the big screen by Columbia in 28 comedies made between 1938 and 1950, with Arthur Lake as bumbling office worker Dagwood Bumstead and Penny Singleton as his ever-patient wife, Blondie. Featured here are the series's first five films: "Blondie" (1938), in which Dagwood loses his job just before the couple's fifth anniversary; "Blondie Meets the Boss" (1939), which finds Dagwood on a fishing trip...and photographed in another woman's arms; "Blondie Takes a Vacation" (1939), where the Bumsteads work to keep a rundown mountain resort open; "Blondie Brings Up Baby" (1939), with Baby Dumpling playing hooky to search for missing family dog Daisy; and "Blondie on a Budget" (1940), in which Dagwood seeks help from an old flame (Rita Hayworth) to buy a fur coat for Blondie. Each full-length film features a brief "teaser" scene before the opening credits. 6 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
Blondie, Vol. 2 [DVD] DVD
Level-headed homemaker Blondie Bumstead (Penny Singleton), hapless hubby Dagwood (Arthur Lake), and their family are back in five more entries from the popular Columbia comedy series. "Blondie Has Servant Trouble" (1940) when the Bumsteads move into a supposedly haunted mansion; while on a trip to a relative's ranch, "Blondie Plays Cupid" (1940) for an eloping couple (Glenn Ford and Luana Walters); a South American business trip with Mr. Dithers finds Dagwood in drag as a ship's orchestra's lady drummer in "Blondie Goes Latin" (1941); things go to the dogs when a Great Dane Blondie brings home beats out a client's canine for a dog show prize in "Blondie in Society" (1941); and there's comedy on the campus when "Blondie Goes to College" (1942) along with Dagwood. Each full-length film features a brief "teaser" scene before the opening credits. 6 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
Blondie, Vols. 1 & 2 [DVD] DVD
Two-disc collector's set includes "Blondie, Vol. 1" and "Blondie, Vol. 2."

blondie photos and posters available

filmography

This listing is for Blondie films only and does not include other film appearances by Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton:
Beware of Blondie (1950) with Adele Jergens, Dick Wessel, and Larry Simms
Blondie's Hero (1950) with William Frawley and Larry Simms
Blondie Hits the Jackpot (1949) with Lloyd Corrigan, Jerome Cowan, and Larry Simms
Blondie's Big Deal (1949) with Wilton Graff, Jerome Cowan, and Larry Simms
Blondie's Secret (1948) with Thurston Hall, Jerome Cowan, Larry Simms, and Paula Raymond
Blondie's Reward (1948) with Chick Chandler, Jerome Cowan, and Larry Simms
Blondie's Anniversary (1947) with Adele Jergens, William Frawley, Jerome Cowan, and Larry Simms
Blondie in the Dough (1947) with Hugh Herbert, Jerome Cowan, and Larry Simms
Blondie's Holiday (1947) with Anne Nagel, Jerome Cowan, and Larry Simms
Blondie's Big Moment (1947) with Anita Louise, Jerome Cowan, and Larry Simms
Blondie Knows Best (1946) with Shemp Howard, Steven Geray, Jerome Cowan, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Blondie's Lucky Day (1946) with Jonathan Hale and Larry Simms
Life with Blondie (1945) with Veda Ann Borg, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Leave It to Blondie (1945) with Marjorie Weaver, Chick Chandler, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Footlight Glamour (1943) with Ann Savage, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
It's a Great Life (1943) with Hugh Herbert, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Blondie for Victory (1942) with Stuart Erwin, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Blondie's Blessed Event (1942) with Hans Conried, Mary Wickes, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Blondie Goes to College (1942) with Larry Parks, Lloyd Bridges, Adele Mara, Janet Blair, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Blondie in Society (1941) with William Frawley, Edgar Kennedy, Chick Chandler, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Blondie Goes Latin (1941) with Ruth Terry, Kirby Grant, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Blondie Plays Cupid (1940) with Glenn Ford, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Blondie Has Servant Trouble (1940) with Jonathan Hale and Larry Simms
Blondie on a Budget (1940) with Rita Hayworth and Larry Simms
Blondie Brings Up Baby (1939) with Peggy Ann Garner, Jonathan Hale, and Larry Simms
Blondie Takes a Vacation (1939) with Larry Simms
Blondie Meets the Boss (1939) with Jonathan Hale and Larry Simms
Blondie (1938) with Gene Lockhart, Larry Simms, Jonathan Hale, and Ann Doran

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Watch the trailer for the 1940 feature Blondie On A Budget

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