Loretta Clemens Tupper

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Loretta Nellie Clemens Tupper (May 6, 1906, in Marblehead, Ohio – September 17, 1990, in The Bronx, New York) was a singer, pianist and vaudevillian and radio actress., who later added television and film appearances to her impressive repertoire. In her early career she was known as Loretta Clemens and in her later career she was known as Loretta Tupper She featured in numerous television commercials and was famous for playing the old lady in the Fruit of the Loom television commercials from the 1980s. She was a character on the PBS Television show Sesame Street called Mrs. Mae Trump in the 1980s. She played small roles in numerous movies.

Early career[edit]

In the early 1930s, Loretta and her brother Jack Clemens played music in a band called Loretta and Jack. They recorded a number of songs including "Stop! You're Breaking My Heart" from the album Jazz Guitar Varieties, written by Ted Koehler and Burton Lane, "(What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue" written by Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf and composed by Thomas "Fats" Waller, from the album Jazz Guitar Varieties and "Just A Little Girl" written by S. B. Fishburne. In the early 1930s Loretta was a member of a trio band called The Triolettes, along with Eunice Miller and Marjorie Sullivan.

Radio programs[edit]

Jack and Loretta Clemens also starred in an hour-long musical comedy radio series on NBC called The Gibson Family which was on the radio from 1934 to 1935. The Gibson Family did not do well in the ratings and in 1935 it was reworked and renamed Uncle Charlie's Tent Show. While the format had changed, many of the characters from The Gibson Family were in the new version of the show. Jack and Loretta Clemens remained on the show, playing the same characters that they played on the Gibson Family. Uncle Charlie's Tent Show was broadcast for less than three months before it too was canceled.

From 1933 through 1939 Jack and Loretta Clemens had their own program, Jack and Loretta Clemens, a brother-sister piano-patter-and-song-duo broadcast on various networks including NBC, CBS, Blue Network and Blue. The program was 15 minutes long and was broadcast up to six times per week.

Between 1934 and 1937 Loretta sang on the NBC radio program Johnny Presents. In 1936 Jack and Loretta starred in a radio program called Studio 7, which aired three times a week on NBC. Jack and Loretta Clemens played themselves in the 1937 musical film Vitaphone Frolics.

Personal life, later career and awards[edit]

Sometime during the 1930s Loretta married violinist Fredrick H. Tupper who was born 5 October 1904 and died 31 May 1974. He was a respected jazz musician and big band arranger. In 1942, she gave birth to her daughter, Rettadel Tupper, and decided to semi-retire from show business. She opened a talent school in Queens, New York where she taught such future stars as Eileen Brennan. In 1969 the father of one of her students took some photos of her and sent them to some agents in New York. Shortly after that, Mrs. Tupper had her first new acting role advertising Parker Pens. After the death of her husband, she returned to show business, and appeared in numerous television commercials and small film roles. Directors nicknamed her One-Take Tupper for her ability to complete her part in just one take. In 1977 she won a Clio award for her first Fruit of the Loom commercial. She was in numerous commercials including Hertz, The New York Yankees, Midas Mufflers, Audi and Morton's Doughnuts. In 1985 she won another Clio award for her work in a commercial for the Baltimore Orioles. She worked steadily until the last two years of her life.

In 1985, she had a small role as a music shop owner in Woody Allen's movie The Purple Rose of Cairo.[1]


  1. ^ Jeff Milne (20 July 2009). Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: The Complete Guide to the Movie Trivia Game. Jeff Milne. pp. 224–. ISBN 978-0-615-28521-4.
  1. ^ Pancakes and Patter, by Dora Albert. The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Dated March 8, 1936. This article is a full-page story about the lives and careers of Jack and Loretta Clemens.
  1. ^ Americas Favorite Granny, by Diane Casselberry Manuel. The Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) Dated November 7, 1982. This article is a full-page story about the life of Loretta Clemens Tupper.
  1. ^ Obituary for Frederick H. Tupper. The New York Times (New York City, New York) Dated June 3, 1974.
  1. ^ Between Broadway, by Boarman Byrd. The Miami News (Miami, Florida) Dated June 8, 1937.

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