Parker Fennelly

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Parker Fennelly
The "Allen's Alley" cast (l to r): Fred Allen, Kenny Delmar, Minerva Pious, Peter Donald and Parker Fennelly.
Born(1891-10-22)October 22, 1891
DiedJanuary 22, 1988(1988-01-22) (aged 96)
Years active1924-1971

Parker W. Fennelly (October 22, 1891 – January 22, 1988) was an American character actor who appeared in ten films, numerous television episodes and hundreds of radio programs.

Early life[edit]

The son of gardener Nathan Fennelly and Estelle Dolliver Fennelly,[1] he was born and raised in Northeast Harbor, Maine, and studied classical acting in Boston. He was a member of Boston's Toy Theater company and participated in Chautauqua readings.[2] He studied under performing arts educator Leland T. Powers.[3]


In 1915 and 1916, Fennelly toured on the Midland Chautauqua Circuit with the Maud Scheerer Shakespeare Players.[3] In 1919, he traveled and acted with the Jack X. Lewis Stock Company.[4] Fennelly and his wife, Catherine Reynolds Fennelly, formed the Parker Fennelly Duo, presenting short plays, readings and impersonations (1921[5] - 1923[6]).

Fennelly's performances on Broadway included Mr. Pitt (1924), The Small Timers (1925), Florida Girl (1925), Babbling Brookes (1927), Black Velvet (1927), The County Chairman (1936), Yours, A. Lincoln (1942), Our Town (1944), Happily Ever After (1945), Live Life Again (1945), Loco (1946), and The Southwest Corner (1955). His other Broadway credits include directing Technique (1931), providing source material for Fulton of Oak Falls (1937), and writing Cuckoos on the Hearth (1941).[7]


Fennelly and Arthur Allen played "Yankee codgers" on The Stebbins Boys of Bucksport Point and Snow Village Sketches in the early years of radio.[8]

Allen's Alley[edit]

Fennelly personified the crusty New England Yankee in roles on radio, films and television. He was heard weekly as Titus Moody on the "Allen's Alley" segment of Fred Allen's radio show where he delivered his famous opening line: "Howdy, Bub."[9]

Other radio[edit]

Fennelly's other roles on radio included the following:

Program Character
Lawyer Tucker Tucker[10]
Ma and Pa Pa
Mother and Dad Dad[11]
Mr. Feathers Mr. Feathers[12]
Prairie Folks Smiley[13]
The Adventures of the Thin Man Eb[14]
Valiant Lady Mike Hagen[15]

In 1960, Fennelly recorded Moody Speaking, a series of "sparkling one-minute and five-minute vignettes" produced by Banner Radio Company for local stations.[16]

Television and films[edit]

Note how this poster illustration was cleverly designed to disguise the face of Parker Fennelly, who stepped in to replace series regular Percy Kilbride.

Fennelly made numerous appearances on live television shows of the early 1950s, including Lux Video Theatre, The Philco Television Playhouse and Studio One. In 1970-1971, he played Mr. Purdy on Headmaster on CBS.[17] In 1956 he guest-starred on an episode of Father Knows Best as a housepainter.

In film, Fennelly portrayed the millionaire in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry (1955), and he replaced Percy Kilbride as Pa Kettle in the final film of the "Ma and Pa Kettle" series The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm. After Angel in My Pocket (1969), his last movie role was Universal's How to Frame a Figg (1971) starring Don Knotts.

In later years he became a familiar face as the Pepperidge Farm's television spokesman between 1956 and 1977, delivering the slogan "Pepperidge Farm remembers" in his New England accent, then turned over the role to Charles C. Welch.[18]

Personal life[edit]

In 1918, Fennelly met and married Catherine Deane "while both of them were playing in a stock company in Moline, Illinois."[1] They had two daughters, Mary and Jane, and a son, John.[1]


In 1950, Fennelly made the children's record Ride 'Em Cowboy (I and II) (CGR-1003).[19] In 1953, he recorded another children's item Hunters of the Sea (Record Guild 9006).[20]


The gravesite of Parker W. Fennelly and his wife

Fennelly died January 22, 1988, aged 96, at his home in Peekskill, New York. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, four grandsons, and one great-grandson.[8]

His widow, Catherine Fennelly (1892—1988), died five months later, aged 95. Their remains were interred in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.


Year Title Role Notes
1949 Lost Boundaries Alvin Tupper
1951 The Whistle at Eaton Falls Issac
1955 The Trouble with Harry Millionaire
1957 The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm Pa Kettle
1959 It Happened to Jane Homer Bean
1966 The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming Mr. Everett
1968 Pretty Poison Sam - Night Watchman uncredited
1969 Angel in My Pocket Calvin Grey
1971 How to Frame a Figg Old Charley Spaulding


  1. ^ a b c Matthews, Chester (July 20, 1935). "The Man from Home" (PDF). Radio Guide. p. 6. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  2. ^ "King's Daughters Give Series of Entertainments for Charity". Iowa, Des Moines. The Des Moines Register. September 24, 1916. p. 4. Retrieved December 14, 2015 – via open access
  3. ^ a b "Fennelly, the Man from Maine". Iowa, Marble Rock. Marble Rock Journal. January 18, 1917. p. 3. Retrieved December 14, 2015 – via open access
  4. ^ "The Theater". North Carolina, Charlotte. The Charlotte News. August 5, 1919. p. 11. Retrieved December 14, 2015 – via open access
  5. ^ "Parker Fennelly Duo". Oklahoma, Boynton. Boynton Index. November 4, 1921. p. 4. Retrieved December 14, 2015 – via open access
  6. ^ "Parker Fennelly Duo Big Attraction At Lebanon Valley". Pennsylvania, Lebanon. Evening Report. January 22, 1923. p. 22. Retrieved December 14, 2015 – via open access
  7. ^ "Parker Fennelly". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  8. ^ a b Blau, Eleanor (January 23, 1988). "Parker W. Fennelly Dies at 96; Was Actor in Radio, Film and TV". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  9. ^ Bertel, Dick; Corcoran; Ed (November 1971). "Parker Fennelly". The Golden Age of Radio. Season 2. Episode 8. Broadcast Plaza, Inc.. WTIC Hartford, Conn.
  10. ^ "Barrister". Harrisburg Telegraph. May 31, 1947. p. 17. Retrieved March 29, 2015 – via open access
  11. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 469. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved 2019-09-05. Mother And Dad, comedy.
  12. ^ Chase, Sam (December 3, 1949). "Radio and Television Program Reviews: Mr. Feathers" (PDF). Billboard. p. 3. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  13. ^ "Wednesday's Highlights" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. 14 (4): 46. August 1940. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  14. ^ Chase, Sam (July 3, 1948). "Radio and Television Reviews: New Adventures of the Thin Man" (PDF). Billboard. p. 10. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  15. ^ Fairfax, Arthur (December 28, 1940). "Mr. Fairfax Replies" (PDF). Movie Radio Guide. 10 (12): 43. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 19, 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  16. ^ "(Banner Radio Company advertisement)" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 29, 1960. p. 59. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  17. ^ Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (1979). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows: 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-25525-9. P.257.
  18. ^ Klimkiewicz, Joann (July 29, 2004). "'Peppridge Faahm' Pitchman Remembered". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  19. ^ "Record Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. July 8, 1950. p. 115. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Packaged Record Review Ratings" (PDF). Billboard. December 19, 1953. p. 46. Retrieved 17 December 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Old-Time Radio Memories by Mel Simons (BearManor Media).

External links[edit]