19 December 2018 | JordanThomasHall
The Misadventures of Dagwood Bumstead
Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead were brought to life by revered cartoonist Chic Young and quickly debuted in a syndicated comic strip in September 1930. In newspapers coast to coast "Blondie" became the big cartoon buzz, growing to become the most popular comic strip in America. "Blondie" follows the comedic misadventures of Dagwood Bumstead, a naive, uncoordinated man whose main enthusiasm is eating. He runs afoul with his boss Mr. Dithers and at home with his wife Blondie raising their children and dogs. Young drew over 15,000 strips until his death in 1973. Since then his son has taken on the role for what continues to be a popular syndicated comic published today in papers throughout the world. The immense success of the comic strip was a natural match to be released as a series of comic books beginning in the 1940s. It also led to Columbia Pictures releasing 28 low budget Blondie films from 1938-1950. Similarly, a radio program ran from 1949-1950. Two separate television series (1957 and 1968-67, respectively) were formed and each ran for one lone season. Animated cartoons appeared throughout the 80s. A wide variety of merchandise has been released and even restaurants formed featuring Dagwood's famously large sandwich. There's a recipe for "The Dagwood", which has entered people's lexicon for a large sandwich. "Blondie" left it's impression in the world in becoming one of the most popular comic strips ever created.
The first television series was released by Hal Roach Studios, running from January 4, 1957- July 5, 1957 and followed situations of the comic strip. It starred an embracingly typecast Arthur Lake who also portrayed Dagwood in the film series. The role of Blondie went to Pamela Britton, familiar to classic TV fans as neighbor Lorelei Brown in "My Favorite Martian". Harold Peary, known as radio hit "The Great Gildersleeve" has a recurring role as Dagwood's friend Herb Woodley.
Reflecting upon the series, "Blondie" proves how difficult it is to turn a comic strip into a successful sitcom. The first few episodes started decently before really languishing through most of its run and picking up steam near the end. That's a shame, really, as it finally seemed the cast was comfortably gelling. Many plot elements are a reach, but that's forgivable being its fun-first comic roots. Still, some episodes are hard to watch as a result. Some became hard to watch because of Blondie's character being so self-centered to the point of being mean spirited. Until the end the comedy was really hit or miss or failing to live up to its potential, but had its moments. Some of the best comedy was misinterpreting a situation. In that regard I personally found the best episodes to be "The Rummage Sale" and "Follow That Man". The beginning and end of the series is worth a look for classic TV fans, and of course for fans of "Blondie".