Tom Breneman

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Tom Breneman's Restaurant is seen here as it looked in 1947. Breneman broadcast his Breakfast in Hollywood radio program from here in the late 1940s.

Thomas Breneman Smith (June 18, 1902 – April 28, 1948)[1] was an American radio personality known to his listeners as Tom Breneman. For most of his career, he was based in Southern California, in Los Angeles and Hollywood. His radio program was such a success that he established the eponymous Tom Breneman's Restaurant in Hollywood, which attracted many actors, musicians and others.

Early years[edit]

Breneman was born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.[2] His father worked in a sand mine, and Breneman was one of six children. Breneman graduated from the public schools in Waynesboro and attended Columbia University.[1]


Breneman began broadcasting in 1927. In 1930, he was program director at KFVD in Culver City, California.[3] In 1931-32, appearing as Tom Brennie, he had a program, Laugh Club of the Air in New York City, an early audience participation show.[1]

Returning to the West Coast, he hosted a morning variety show for Fels-Naptha soap from KFRC, San Francisco, to the CBS-Don Lee network circa 1935.[4]

In 1937, Breneman was host of Secret Ambition, which was produced at KNX radio in Los Angeles, California, and was carried on CBS' newly formed Pacific Coast network.[5]

Breneman was host of the show Breakfast in Hollywood (earlier titled Breakfast at Sardi's), which aired on the Blue Network, ABC, NBC and Mutual at various times from 1941 to 1948.[6]

Breneman's program began using its best-known title Breakfast in Hollywood in 1945. By the mid-1940s, Breneman had ten million listeners. The popularity of the radio program was such that he developed spin-off enterprises in media and other areas. He founded his own magazine.

In 1945 he opened his own establishment, Tom Breneman's Restaurant, located on Vine Street off Sunset Boulevard.[6] The opening on March 26, 1945, had "a gala crowd of Hollywoodites in attendance, including distinguished members of the radio industry, a number of famed screen and air personalities, and representatives of the press."[7] He broadcast episodes of his program from his restaurant; entertainers included Korla Pandit, a purported Indian immigrant who was creating a sensation with a daily, all-music program on television. He maintained this persona to his death in 1998. In 2001 an article in Los Angeles Magazine revealed that he was an African-American musician from Missouri, who had created a new persona and great success in Hollywood and TV.


Breneman married former actress Billie Dunn. They had two children, Gloria Anne, and Tom Jr.[1]


Breneman died April 28, 1948,[1] in Encino, California. His funeral was held May 1, 1948, in Hollywood.[8] He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale).[9] Breneman was honored by being given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Tom Breneman, Famous Radio Star, Drops Dead". The Daily News. April 28, 1948. p. 7. Retrieved April 27, 2015 – via open access
  2. ^ "Tom Breneman With Friends". The Morning Herald. April 30, 1948. p. 24. Retrieved April 27, 2015 – via open access
  3. ^ "(radio listings)" (PDF). Radio Doings. May 3, 1930. p. 35. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  4. ^ Titan Productions air check, "Fels-Naptha Program," April 16, 1935. In private collection.
  5. ^ "Los Angeles" (PDF). Radio Daily. December 28, 1937. p. 6. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 112–113. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  7. ^ "Quandary" (PDF) (April 8, 1945). Radio Life. p. 7. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  8. ^ "Breneman Rites Saturday At 11". The Morning Herald. April 30, 1948. p. 24. Retrieved April 27, 2015 – via open access
  9. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2. McFarland & Company (2016) ISBN 0786479922

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