Today July 19, 1919 Raymond Dallas "Dal" McKennon, Jr. was born in La Grande, Oregon to Grace (Carter) & Raymond Dallas McKennon. His mother died when Dal was a teenager, and because his father was unable to provide for him or his two older sisters Jean & Martha, the children were sent to a family friend who looked after them. Dal was a mischievous child who was often in trouble for mimicking his superiors.
In 1938 he applied for a job at radio station KLBM at the insistence of the head teacher at La Grande High School, where he was a pupil. The job involved reading short stories of Charles Dickens, O. Henry and Mark Twain, during the Children's Hour live on air from the mezzanine floor of The Sacajawea Hotel, where KLBM had studios. "I was petrified when I got in front of that mike until I realized it was not a do-or-die situation," McKennon said. Following his graduation, he moved to Seattle and briefly lived with his father.
On December 6, 1942 Raymond Dallas "Dal" McKennon, Jr. married Betty J. Warner in Portland where they were living. Six days later on December 12, 1942 Dal enlisted in the Signal Corps. in Tacoma for WWII and was stationed in Alaska. In March 1944 Sgt. McKennon & wife Betty (living in Multnomah) welcomed their first daughter Dalene G. McKennon. On November 14, 1945 Sgt. McKennon & wife Betty welcomed their second daughter Barbara J. McKennon. On December 30, 1945 Sgt. McKennon was discharged.
On December 31, 1946 Dal & Betty welcomed their first son Jerald R. McKennon and were living at 10448 S.E. 35th Drive. In August 1947 Dallas was part of a "Multnomah County Fair" school days skit with KGW cast members. "And Dallas McKennon, comic will be seen as the school janitor." In 1948 Dallas & Betty welcomed their third daughter Linda J. McKennon. By January 1949 Dallas had founded "McKennon Recording Service" offering recording capability on acetate or the new magnetic tape.
January 30, 1949 McKennon ad: "SEE IT! HEAR IT! SOUNDMIRROR* Now in Portable Case or Mahogany Cabinet $229.50. Terms. TAPE RECORDER. Record Your Favorite... *Full Length Radio Shows. *Music. *Home Talent. Marvelous Teaching Aid for School, Studio or Home. McKennon Recording Service. 708 Broadway Bldg. CA 3505." On August 8, 1949 KPDQ aired the "McKennon Recording Service" one hour program that was taped at the Reed Festival which featured the Portland Symphonic Choir. Aired at 6:00pm.
On September 5, 1950 "Dal" McKennon began as "Mr. Buttons" on KGW Radio at 4:45pm. Ad: "KGW proudly introduces MR. BUTTONS, a brand-new, half-hour program now to be heard Monday through Friday. It's written by Evelyn Sibley Lampman, KGW's Educational Director, especially for children...of all ages!...and features selected children's records; the stories, mimicry and characterizations of "Mr. Buttons"; and "Zipper," the studio mouse. And kids YOU CAN SEE THE SHOW! Be in the KGW studios on the fourth floor (at 1320 S.W. Broadway) of The Oregonian Building by 4:30 this afternoon. Bring a button for admission!"
On the first show, in comes a girl about 7 who has forgotten her button. Realizing her mistake, she yanks off one small button holding her skirt up and gives it to Mr. Buttons...then has to keep a grasp on her skirt for the rest of the program. By January 1951 "McKennon Recording Service" had moved into The Oregonian building with KGW. Dallas came up with a novel idea to sell his recording machines. The KGW kids show "The Young Oregonian's On The Air" would have singing contests and the winners would be given a free McKennon recording of the child's performance. Parents and children, wanting to hear the tape of their future star, would have to buy a machine. This went on almost weekly.
On Friday March 23, 1951 Mr. Buttons performed his last show on KGW. The following Monday March 26, 1951 Dallas McKennon and Zipper moved to KWJJ at 1011 S.W. 6th Ave. to begin a new children's show "Mr. Patches" with Zipper the talking mouse at 4:00pm. On March 29, 1951 Dal & Betty welcomed their fourth daughter Gayle L. McKennon and were living at 4141 S.W. Iowa St.
In Dal's spare time he worked at Portland Civic Theater, where Janet Baumhover (Abigail on KEX's "Covered Wagon Days" in 1930's) told him that Jimmy Stewart & cast were planning to shoot a Western movie here. "Why don't you try out for it?" asked Janet. Dallas was one of 30 who showed up for the audition, five of them made the finals and Dallas was chosen for a role. Producer of "Bend of The River" was Aaron Rosenberg, who would later be Executive Producer of the "Daniel Boone" TV series.
On July 25, 1951 shooting began on location at Mt. Hood for the motion picture "Bend of the River" (originally titled: Bend of The Snake) where McKennon played a bit part as an old Miner. Jimmy Stewart, gave Dallas encouragement to leave Portland for an acting career in Hollywood. On August 17, 1951 KWJJ's "Mr. Patches" was replaced by another children's show "Jimmy Allen's Scrapbook" hosted by Jim Allen aka Rusty Nails.
On September 21, 1951 it was announced Dal McKennon was off to Hollywood. He sold "McKennon Recording Service" to George W. Hoyt, becoming the "Hoyt Recording Co." In a short time Dallas began working as a voice talent for Walter Lantz Productions becoming Buzz Buzzard, Wally Walrus & others in the cartoons "Slingshot 6 7/8" "Woody Woodpecker In The Rough" "Scalp Treatment" & "The Great Who-Dood-it." 80 more shorts followed. On January 22, 1952 Dal played an old timer on an episode of NBC Radio's "Fibber McGee & Molly."
In July 1953 McKennon created and hosted his own daily kids television show, Space Funnies/Capt. Jet, which was seen six mornings a week locally on CBS owned KNXT channel 2 Los Angeles. Capt. Jet would take kids on his rocket ship to far away galaxies where they would have fun playing games, see filmed segments, hear stories and more. The same show was later seen with a different host locally in New York City on WCBS-TV.
In the early 1950s, Dallas provided the original voice for Kellogg's Tony the Tiger, Frosted Flakes mascot who shouted, "They're g-r-r-r-r-r-eat!" in commercials. Dal also voiced other brand mascots, including "Snap, Crackle, Pop -- Rice Krispies." In 1953 Dal & Betty welcomed their second son Steven W. McKennon. On December 10, 1953 McKennon appeared on an episode of the Revue - NBC television series "Dragnet."
In 1955 Dal voiced the roles of Toughy, Professor & Pedro in Walt Disney's "Lady And The Tamp." In 1957 "Capt. Jet" aired on KNXT for the last time. On October 3, 1957 Dallas was heard on multiple roles on the ABC animated afternoon television series "The Woody Woodpecker Show." In 1959 Dal appeared as a Carpenter in the movie "Good Day For A Hanging." In 1959 McKennon voiced the Owl in Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty."
On November 22, 1959 Dal played the role of Randy a barfly on an episode of the Warner Bros. - ABC television series "Lawman." In 1959 Dallas took the part of the Projectionist in the movie "The Tingler" starring Vincent Price. On December 13, 1959 McKennon appeared as an Agent in an episode of the Warner Bros. - ABC television series "Colt .45." On December 21, 1959 Dallas played the role of a Store Keeper on an episode of the Four Star - CBS television series "The DuPont Show with June Allyson."
On March 12, 1960 McKennon appeared as a Farmer in an episode of the syndicated TV series "U.S. Marshal." In 1960 Dallas & Betty welcomed their fifth daughter Tamara M. McKennon. On October 24, 1960 Dal played the role of a Court Reporter on an episode of the Revue - NBC television series "Riverboat." In 1960 Dallas voiced the main roles in the animated TV series "Courageous Cat & Minute Mouse."
On December 28, 1960 Dal played the part of Hotel Clerk Kelly on an episode of the Revue - NBC television series "Wagon Train." This episode starring Robert Horton. In 1961 McKennon voiced the Barking Dogs in Walt Disney's "101 Dalmatians." On May 3, 1961 Dal played the role of Lee on an episode of the Revue - NBC television series "Wagon Train." This episode starring John McIntire. Dal played on five more episodes with McIntire.
On September 25, 1961 Dallas appeared in the premiere episode and had a recurring role in 5 episodes as Dr. Blaney in the Revue - NBC television series "87th Precinct." On October 21, 1961 Dal appeared as a Bartender in an episode of the Revue - NBC television series "The Tall Man." On November 18, 1961 McKennon appeared in an episode of the Paramount - CBS television series "Gunsmoke." On January 11, 1962 Dallas played the role of Mac Ivers on an episode of the Desilu - ABC television series "My Three Sons."
On January 18, 1962 McKennon appeared as Mr. Phelps on an episode of the Desilu - ABC television series "The Untouchables." On April 4, 1962 Dallas took the role of Dobie on an episode of the Revue - NBC television series "Wagon Train." This episode co-starring Robert Horton & John McIntire. In 1962 Dal & Betty welcomed their sixth daughter Wendy L. McKennon. On September 22, 1962 Dal played the role of Jake in the episode of the CBS television series "Gunsmoke."
On October 10, 1962 McKennon took the role of a Lumberyard Owner in an episode of the Revue - NBC television series "The Virginian." On December 3, 1962 Dallas appeared as Waco Martin on an episode of the Desilu - ABC television series "Ben Casey." On January 19, 1963 McKennon played the role of Jim Tolliver on an episode of the Screen Gems - ABC television series starring Fess Parker "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington." In 1963 Dallas took the role of 1st Juror in Walt Disney's "Son of Flubber." On February 20, 1963 Dal appeared as Art Meadows on an episode of the Revue - NBC television series "The Virginian."
In 1963 McKennon played the part of Mr. Quinby in the movie "House of The Damned." On February 25, 1963 Dallas played the role of Judge Hopkins on an episode of the Four Star - ABC television series "The Rifleman." In 1963 Dal appeared as Sam The Cook in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." On April 1, 1963 McKennon appeared as Judge Moze in an episode of the Four Star - ABC television series "The Rifleman." On November 5, 1963 Dal was seen in an episode of the Desilu - ABC television series "The Greatest Show On Earth."
On November 17, 1963 Dallas played the role of a Mailman in an episode of the MGM - CBS television series "My Favorite Martian." In 1964 McKennon appeared as Detective Hutchins in Walt Disney's "The Misadventures of Merlin Jones." In 1964 Dallas played the part of a Lean Cowboy in the MGM movie "7 Faces of Dr. Lao." Dal let his beard grow for the role and never shaved again. In 1964 Dal voiced the Fox, Hunting Horse, Reporter #1, Carousel Guard, Penguin & Hound in Walt Disney's "Mary Poppins."
On October 1, 1964 Dallas McKennon was first seen playing the role of innkeeper, Cincinnatus on episode 2 of the 20th Century-Fox - NBC Television series "Daniel Boone" starring Fess Parker. Dallas played Cincinnatus for six seasons on 80 additional episodes. On November 14, 1964 Dallas appeared on four episodes of the NBC television series "The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo." On December 10, 1964 citizens of La Grande, Oregon, hometown of Dal McKennon saw Dallas on "Daniel Boone" for the first time, via the town's new television station KTVR, which rebroadcast NBC & ABC programs from KTVB Boise.
In 1965 McKennon voiced Salty on 20 episodes of the animated syndicated series "Sinbad Jr." On August 6, 1965 it was reported McKennon had tried to get the "Daniel Boone" series to shoot in La Grande, Oregon which he thought would resemble Kentucky. This after the cast completed six weeks of shooting at Kanab, Utah. Dal had also purchased a home in Cannon Beach in the shadow of Haystack Rock and was commuting to Los Angeles. On August 14, 1965 he helped put on a free show at Cannon Beach City Park at 3:00pm called the "Beachy-Keen Varieties."
On September 15, 1965 Dal played the part of Abner Wirth on the premier episode of the Four Star - ABC television series "The Big Valley." In 1966 Dallas voiced Gumby & Pokey on four episodes of the syndicated series "The Gumby Show." On May 28, 1966 McKennon provided the voice for Disney's "It's A Small World" attraction, The Laughing Hyenas. In 1966 Dal imitated Bees in the Walt Disney's "Winnie The Pooh & The Honey Tree." On November 20, 1966 McKennon appeared as Jenkins on an episode of the Paramount - NBC television series "Bonanza."
On December 18, 1966 Dallas voiced Max on the CBS television holiday special Dr. Seuss' "How The Grinch Stole Christmas!" On February 20, 1967 Dal played the role of Brian Jackson on an episode of the Desilu - CBS television series "The Andy Griffith Show." In 1967 McKennon appeared as a Bearded Gas Station Attendant in the United Artists movie "Clambake" starring Elvis. On November 4, 1967 Dallas played the role of Gabe on an episode of the Screen Gems - ABC television series "Iron Horse." On November 22, 1967 Dal appeared as Al on an episode of the Filmways - CBS television series "Dundee And The Culhane."
On June 27, 1968 McKennon voiced Archie Andrews, Hog Dog, Mr. Weatherbee, Pop, Mr. Lodge & Coach Cleats. Plus on five additional episodes of the animated Filmation - CBS television series "The Archie Show." In 1969 Dal appeared as a Bird Caller in the movie "The Love God?" On September 6, 1969 McKennon voiced Joe Hardy & Chubby Morton on the animated ABC television series "The Hardy Boys." On September 13, 1969 Dal voiced Archie Andrews on the animated Filmation - CBS television series "The Archie Comedy Hour."
On August 27, 1970 "Daniel Boone" aired on NBC for the last time. On September 12, 1970 Dallas voiced Archie Andrews, Hog Dog, Mr. Weatherbee, Coach Cleats on 22 more episodes of the animated Filmation - CBS television series "Archie's Funhouse." On September 12, 1970 Dal's voice was heard on 7 more episodes of the animated Filmation - CBS television series "Sabrina & The Groovie Goolies."
On September 11, 1971 McKennon voiced Archie Andrews on the animated Filmation - CBS television series "Archie's TV Funnies." In 1971 Dallas voiced a Bear in Walt Disney's "Bedknobs & Broomsticks." On October 1, 1971 McKennon provided the voice of Zeke in Disney's "Country Bear Jamboree", attraction. On October 19, 1971 Dal played the part of Bucky Fosdick on an episode of the Quinn Martin - CBS television series "Cannon."
On May 18, 1974 Dallas was reported trying to phase out his twice-monthly commutes from Cannon Beach to Hollywood. He maintained a recording studio at his Cannon Beach home. "Despite the long string of television and movie credits to his name, the actor maintains that the most important thing he has ever done is his current effort, a musical depicting the Oregon story, for release during the Bicentennial. Still in the planning stages, the musical would feature only Oregon talent."
On September 7, 1974 McKennon voiced Archie Andrews, Hot Dog & Chuck Clayton on 15 more episodes of the animated Filmation - CBS television series "The U.S. of Archie." On September 10, 1977 Dallas voiced Archie Andrews, Hot Dog & Mr. Weatherbee in the animated Filmation - NBC television series "The New Archie & Sabrina Hour." On November 12, 1977 Dal voiced Archie Andrews, Hot Dog & Mr. Weatherbee in the animated Filmation - NBC television series "Archie's Bang-Shang Lalapalooza Show."
On December 17, 1977 Dal played the role of Johnny Sunseed on an episode of the Filmation - CBS television series "Space Academy." In 1978 McKennon appeared as a Farmer in Walt Disney's "The Cat From Outer Space." In 1978 Dallas played the role of Saloon Man 1 in Walt Disney's "Hot Lead & Cold Feet." On October 15, 1978 Dal starred in the OEPBS special "Appleseed Man" with other Oregon actors, in the story of Johnny Appleseed. This was seen on KOAP-TV Portland, KOAC-TV Corvallis & in Dallas' home town on KTVR La Grande.
On September 2, 1979 McKennen provided the voice for Disney's "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" attraction, safety spiel. "This here's the wildest ride in the wilderness!" On July 13, 1980 it was announced Dallas had begun work with OPB to create "The Pappenheimers", an instructional video series to help teach children German. On July 31, 1980 Dallas starred with the PSU Players in "Our Town" at the Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach thru August 3rd. Admission $5.25.
On July 9, 1982 Dal began the "Champoeg Historical Pageant" where he recreated mountain man Joe Meek and narrated the pageant. "He's rough and tough but he's really warm underneath. He likes to tell tall tales," said McKennon. On October 1, 1982 Dallas provided the voice of Ben Franklin in Disney's Epcot "The American Adventure." In 1983 Dallas McKennon STARRED in the movie "Mystery Mansion." On April 9, 1983 Dal was back for another season at the "Champoeg Historical Pageant."
On January 8, 1984 "The Pappenheimers" instructional series to help teach children German, first aired on OPB. On August 7, 1984 McKennon presented awards at 7:00pm at the Washington County Fair. In 1985 Dal voiced Jim Smiley in Will Vinton's "The Adventures of Mark Twain." On July 5, 1985 Dallas aka Joe Meek, the mountain man returned to the "Champoeg Historical Pageant" to narrate a loosely constructed series of skits that covered a period extending from 1805's Lewis & Clark Expedition, to the first big wave of settlers in 1843.
On May 24, 1986 Dal and Joe Meek moved North to the Oregon Pavilion at Vancouver's "Expo 86." The 13 member cast performed a brief musical pageant called "Wagons Ho!", the telling of folks arriving in the Willamette Valley via the Oregon Tail. It was performed four times a day thru October 13th. This reinforced Oregon's tourist message: "In Oregon You're More Than Welcome." On December 18, 1986 Dallas was once again on his way to Sapporo, Japan taking with him his seasonal alter ego Japanta Claus. "The Ambassador from Oregon is getting to be highly anticipated in our sister city," it was said.
In 1987 McKennon voiced Gumby in the claymation "The Puppetoon Movie." On August 15, 1987 Dal led the 2nd annual "Oregon Trail Days" parade at 10am in La Grande. McKennon entertained later at Riverside Park, 2pm. He also worked at the "Oregon Trail Interpretive Center" giving instructional speeches. In 1988 Dallas voiced Gumby & Professor Kapp for the claymation syndicated Lorimar-Telepictures TV series "Gumby Adventures."
On December 2, 1990 McKennon as Joe Meek, told stories of the Oregon mountain man during the 24th Annual Oregon Historical Society Author's Party from Noon to 5pm at the Oregon Historical Center. The event was free and open to the public. On September 21, 1992 Dal voiced Old Man in the Bathtub in an episode of The Disney Channel's "Goof Troop." In 1992 McKennon played the role of Stud of The Year Octogenarian in the movie "Frozen Assets." In 1993 Dal put together songs, stories and informational documents leading up the "Oregon Trail's Sesquicentennial."
In 1995 Dallas voiced Gumby, Professor Kapp, Lucky Claybert, Fatbuckle & Nobuckle in claymation's "Gumby: The Movie." This would be his last movie. On May 11, 1996 Union Station celebrated its centennial with song, story and showpieces. Children were able to hear songs and tales of the train tracks, courtesy of storyteller/singer Dallas McKennon, open from 11:30am until midnight. On May 29, 1997 "The Columbia Gorge Drive-It-Yourself Tour" tape was announced. Narrator and veteran storyteller Dallas McKennon covered the natural and cultural history between Troutdale and Horsetail Falls.
On July 14, 2009 Dallas McKennon passed away at age 89 at Willapa Harbor Care Center in Raymond, Washington, of respiratory failure and other age-related causes, according to his family. He died just five days before his 90th birthday. Dallas McKennon was officially credited with over 160 various character voices. Dal was a member of AFTRA and the Screen Actors Guild for 57 years.
On August 1, 2009 a memorial service was held at 2pm in the Cannon Beach Community Presbyterian Church. "Dal is one of the craziest guys I have ever known in the sense that he was joyfully alive as any 8-year-old kid can enjoy being," said Will Ryan, an actor, songwriter and friend. "He was such a lively character who constantly wanted, and was worthy of, your attention."
Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this Radio TV biography more complete.
References: Broadcasting magazine, London Telegraph, Long Beach Chinook Observer, IMDb, The Oregonian, Saturday Morning TV book, The Washington Post, Wikipedia.