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Dallas McKennon, Mr. Buttons & His Portland Early Days

(8 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by Craig_Adams
  • Latest reply from Craig_Adams

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  1. Craig_Adams
    Radio historian

    Dallas McKennon was born in La Grande, Oregon on July 19, 1919. The earliest reference of "Dal" McKennon in the Portland area was right after WWII. From "The Oregonian" birth announcements: 11-19-45 "MC KENNON--To Sgt. and Mrs. Dallas R. McKennon, Multnomah, Or. November 14, a daughter Barbara J." 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." By January 1949 Dallas had founded "McKennon Recording Service."

    1-30-49 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." (ad shows a picture of the Brush Development Co. Soundmirror BK-411 Record-Player with table microphone/stand.) On August 8, 1949 KPDQ aired the "McKennon Recording Service" one hour program that was taped at the Reed Festival. Henry Purcell's opera "Dido Aeneas" which featured the Portland Symphonic Choir. Aired at 6:00pm.

    "Dal" McKennon began as "Mr. Buttons" on KGW Radio September 5, 1950 from the studios at 1320 S.W. Broadway.

    9-5-50 debut ad: "the kids will love him!... 'MR. BUTTONS!" KGW's NEW STUDIO SHOW FOR KIDDIES 4:45 P.M. 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 of The Oregonian Building by 4:30 this afternoon. Bring a button for admission! KGW 620 KILOCYCLES, THE NUMBER TO REMEMBER. THIS IS KGW'S BANNER YEAR." (cartoon picture of Mr. Buttons shown)

    10-5-50 - The Oregonian's "Behind The Mike" column excerpt by William Moyes:
    "ADMISSION required at KGW's "Mr. Buttons" show (4:45) is one button. 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."

    11-24-50 ad: "HEY KIDS! MR. BUTTONS. 4:45 P,M. ...on KGW. It's that wonderful half-hour show broadcast especially for you kids! And listen to this...YOU CAN SEE THE SHOW YOURSELF! Just come up to the KGW studios in The Oregonian building by 4:30 any afternoon, Monday through Friday. See Mr. Buttons for yourself...hear his wonderful stories and children's records. You'll have the time of your life! THREE CHIMES MEAN GOOD TIMES ON...KGW. 620 ON YOUR RADIO DIAL." (real picture of Mr. Buttons shown. hat and coat covered with buttons)

    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 child, 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" ad: ZIPPER the Talking Mouse and MR. "PATCHES." KWJJ--1080 KC, 4 p.m." On August 17, 1951 the series ended. On September 21, 1951 it was announced "Dal" McKennon was off to Hollywood for a possible TV show. He sold "McKennon Recording Service" to George W. Hoyt, becoming "Hoyt Recording Co."

    Dallas McKennon's best-known live action role was that of the innkeeper, Cincinnatus, in the "Daniel Boone" TV series starring Fess Parker.

    McKennon also sang, and provided many character voices for Disney. His distinctive voice can be heard in movies such as "Lady and the Tramp", "Sleeping Beauty", "One Hundred and One Dalmatians", "Mary Poppins", and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." He also provided the voices for many Disney Attractions such as the famous Big Thunder Mountain Railroad safety spiel (It's A Small World After All) Laughing Hyenas, Ben Franklin's voice in Epcot's The American Adventure and the voice of Zeke in the Country Bear Jamboree.

    He also had a bit part as a chef in the Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds" and a gas station attendant in the Elvis Presley film "Clambake." McKennon was also the voice of Hardy Boys sidekick Chet Morton in the 1969 animated mystery series. Dallas McKennon died at age 89 in Raymond, Washington on July 14, 2009.

    References: The Oregonian, Radio Museum.org, Wikipedia.

    Posted on November 11, 2012 - 10:34 AM #
  2. semoochie
    Member

    He was also Addie Bobkins sidekick on KKEY in 1975.

    Posted on November 11, 2012 - 12:13 PM #
  3. shipwreck
    Member

    He was a really nice guy and had a good funny mind up until his passing.

    Posted on November 11, 2012 - 09:56 PM #
  4. Craig_Adams
    Radio historian

    Here's some great radio trivia I just discovered.

    When KWJJ canceled the children's program "Mr. Patches" host by Dallas McKennon in August 1951 the show that replaced it was "Jimmy Allen's Scrapbook" another children's show host by Jim Allen aka Rusty Nails! That program lasted until Sept 1952 when it was replaced by yet another children's show brought over from KBKO "Mr. Moon" hosted by Ed Leahy.

    Posted on June 10, 2013 - 06:06 AM #
  5. Valerie ring
    Member

    Dallas came on the Morning Zoo back in the 90's and was such a gracious man. He wanted to know why we were "fussing all over him". Great memories!

    Posted on June 10, 2013 - 06:22 PM #
  6. stevethedj
    Member

    I never met Dallas. But I worked with his son Jerry at KPDQ.Jerry had a lot of stories about his dad. 8)

    Posted on June 11, 2013 - 12:41 PM #
  7. Craig_Adams
    Radio historian

    Great informational website on Dallas McKennon with video and pictures:

    http://www.dalmckennon.com/

    Posted on November 17, 2013 - 06:55 AM #
  8. Craig_Adams
    Radio historian

    This was never mentioned in Dallas McKennon's obit so I didn't look into it.

    As we know he was born in La Grande. But when Dallas McKennon was 19 years old, he joined the KLBM radio staff in 1938 and did a one man show, reading short stories of O. Henry and Mark Twain from the mezzanine floor of The Sacajawea Hotel, where KLBM had studios.

    Posted on April 12, 2014 - 10:53 PM #