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Dennis Day

Dennis Day.jpg
Dennis Day circa 1945

Birth name Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty
Born May 21, 1916
New York City, New York
Died June 22, 1988
Los Angeles, California
Show The Jack Benny Program
Station(s) NBC, CBS
Style Comedian, Tenor singer
Country United States

Dennis Day (May 21, 1916 – June 22, 1988)[1] [2] [3] born Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty, was an Irish-American singer and radio and television personality.

Contents

Early life

Day was born and raised in New York City, the son of Irish immigrants. His father was a stationary engineer.[4] [5] Day graduated from Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in New York City, and attended Manhattan College in the Bronx, where he sang in the glee club.

Radio

Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty
May 21, 1916(1916-05-21) – June 2, 1988 (aged 72)
Place of birth New York City
Place of death Los Angeles, California
Place of burial Holy Cross Cemetery
Culver City, California
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1944-1946
Rank Lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II
Other work Singer, radio and television personality

Day appeared for the first time on Jack Benny's radio show on October 8, 1939, taking the place of another famed tenor, Kenny Baker. He remained associated with Benny's radio and television programs until Benny's death in 1974. He was introduced (with actress Verna Felton playing his mother) as a young (nineteen year old), naive boy singer — a character he kept through his whole career. His first song was "Goodnight My Beautiful".

Besides singing, Dennis Day was an excellent mimic. He did many imitations on the Benny program of various noted celebrities of the era, such as Ronald Colman, Jimmy Durante, and James Stewart.

Sam Berman's caricature of Dennis Day for 1947 NBC promotional book

From 1944 through 1946, he served in the US Navy as a Lieutenant. On his return to civilian life, he continued to work with Benny while also starring on his own NBC show, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day (1946-1951). Day's having two programs in comparison to Benny's one was the subject of numerous jokes and gags on Benny's show, usually revolving around Day rubbing Benny's, and sometimes other cast members and guest stars' noses in that fact. His last radio series was a comedy/variety show that aired briefly on NBC during the 1954-55 season.

Television

An attempt was made to adapt A Day in the Life Of Dennis Day as an NBC filmed series (Sam Berman's caricature of Dennis was used in the opening and closing titles), produced by Jerry Fairbanks for Dennis' sponsor, Colgate-Palmolive, featuring the original radio cast, but got no farther than an unaired 1949 pilot episode. In late 1950, a sample kinescope was produced by Colgate and their ad agency showcasing Dennis as host of a projected "live" comedy/variety series (The Dennis Day Show) for CBS, but that, too, went unsold. He continued to appear as a regular cast member when The Jack Benny Program became a TV series, staying with the show until it ended in 1965.

Eventually, his own TV series, The Dennis Day Show (aka The RCA Victor Show), was telecast on NBC from 1952 to 1954. Between 1952 and 1978, he made numerous TV appearances as a singer and actor (such as NBC's The Gisele MacKenzie Show and ABC's The Bing Crosby Show) and voice for animation (such as the Walt Disney feature Johnny Appleseed, handling multiple characters).

Personal life

In 1948, Day married Peggy Almquist; the marriage lasted until his death in 1988. The couple had ten children. One of his brothers, Jim McNulty, was married to actress/singer Ann Blyth.

Day died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease), aged 72 in Los Angeles, California. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6646 Hollywood Boulevard. He is interred in Culver City's Holy Cross Cemetery.

Discography (partial)

  • Dennis Day Sings Christmas Is for the Family (1957, Design)
  • That's an Irish Lullaby (1959, RCA)
  • Shillelaghs and Shamrocks (1963, Reprise)
  • White Christmas (1965, Design) [reissue of Christmas Is for the Family]
  • My Wild Irish Rose (1966, RCA Camden) [reissue of earlier RCA Victor recordings]
  • Clancy Lowered the Boom (1947 RCA Victor single)
  • Dear Hearts and Gentle People (1949 RCA Victor single)
  • Christmas in Killarney (1950 RCA Victor single)

References

  1. ^ Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.
  2. ^ Ancestry.com. California Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000.
  3. ^ Passenger list, S.S. Britannic, 17 September 1934. Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.
  4. ^ U.S. Census, Jan. 1, 1920, State of New York, County of Bronx, enumeration district 393, p. 13-B, family 257.
  5. ^ Patrick Jos. McNulty, Bronx, New York, born 18 July 1881. Ancestry.com. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.

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