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Penny Singleton in 1990
|Born||Marianna Dorothy Agnes Letitia McNulty
September 15, 1908
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||November 12, 2003
Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Respiratory failure|
|Spouse(s)||Dr. Laurence Scogga Singleton (1937–1939) (divorced)
Robert Sparks (1941–1963) (his death)
Penny Singleton (September 15, 1908 – November 12, 2003) was an American film actress. Born Marianna Dorothy Agnes Letitia McNulty in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (commonly known as Dorothy McNulty) she was the daughter of an Irish-American newspaperman Benny McNulty — from whom she received the nickname "Penny" because she was "as bright as a penny".
During her sixty year career Singleton appeared as the comic strip heroine Blondie Bumstead in a series of 28 motion pictures from 1938 until 1950 and the popular Blondie radio program from 1939 until 1950.
She died in November 2003 at the age of 95 of respiratory failure.
Singleton began her show business career when she was a child, singing at a silent movie theater, and toured in vaudeville as part of an act called "The Kiddie Kabaret". She sang and danced with Milton Berle, whom she had known since childhood, and actor Gene Raymond, and appeared on Broadway in Jack Benny's The Great Temptations. She also toured in nightclubs and roadshows of plays and musicals.
Singleton appeared as a nightclub singer in After the Thin Man, and was credited at this time as Dorothy McNulty. She was cast opposite Arthur Lake (as Dagwood) in the feature film Blondie in 1938, based on the comic strip by Chic Young. They repeated their roles on a radio comedy beginning in 1939 and in guest appearances on other radio shows. As Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead they proved so popular that a succession of 27 sequels were made from 1938 until 1950 with the radio show ending the same year. Singleton's husband Robert Sparks produced 12 of these sequels. Singleton dyed her brunette hair blonde for the rest of her life.
Singleton won "Top Billing" in Go West, Young Lady over her male co-star, Glenn Ford — putting her in the elite company of only two other female stars (Dorothy Page and Jane Frazee) who held the headliner roles as top-billed singing cowgirls.
She starred as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls at the summer Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri in 1954.
She became familiar to television audiences as the voice of Jane Jetson in the animated series The Jetsons, which originally aired from 1962 until 1963, reprising the role for a syndicated revival from 1985 through 1988 and for assorted specials, records, and Jetsons: The Movie (1990).
She was married to Dr. Laurence Scogga Singleton, a dentist, from 1937 until their divorce in 1939. She was married to Robert Sparks from 1941 until his death on July 22, 1963. Singleton had a daughter with each of her husbands.
- Belle of the Night (1930)
- Campus Cinderella (1938)
- Screen Snapshots Series 19, No. 1 (1939)
- Sky High (1925)
- Sweetheart Time (1926)
- The Great Temptations (1926)
- Good News (1928) (replacement for Zelma O'Neal)
- Hey Nonny Nonny! (1932)
- Call Me Madam (1959)
- No, No, Nanette (1972) (replacement for Ruby Keeler)
- No, No, Nanette (1974)
- Little Me (1983)
- Penny Singleton at the Internet Movie Database
- Penny Singleton at the Internet Broadway Database
- Penny Singleton at Find a Grave
- Blondie: The Movie Series