A polio outbreak in the summer of 1946 prompted Minnesota officials to declare a voluntary quarantine that emptied beaches and bars, canceled the State Fair and no doubt disrupted the Minneapolis Tribune’s kid-powered delivery system. Without a Sunday paper, how would homebound children get their fix of Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie? To the rescue came Minneapolis Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey. With son “Skipper” and daughter Nancy by his side, he read the comics to WCCO Radio listeners across the state. And he couldn’t resist the chance to promote his city, observing that Bugs Bunny’s new toy horse looked like it had been purchased “in one of those fine stores in Minneapolis.”
For audio of the broadcast, click here. The Minneapolis Morning Tribune's account appeared the next day:
Mayor Airs Comics,
and City Gets a Plug
|The mayor's wife, Muriel, and youngest son, Robert, listened to the broadcast at home. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
The normal moral teachings of the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune comics carried the additional message -- "Minneapolis, It's Wonderful," as Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey put his own version of the "funnies" on the air Sunday.
It turned out that the peace officer who interrupted Blondie's fishing expedition resembled "one of our good Minneapolis policemen ... like Gene Bernath or Glenn MacLean."
CLOSE TO HOME
When Bugs Bunney found it necessary to buy a toy horse, it looked to the mayor as if he were making the purchase "in one of those fine stores in Minneapolis." Locale of Bugs' adventure, the mayor intimated, could have been Lake Calhoun.
The mayor, no man to rely on surveys for listener reaction, had "Skipper," 4, and Nancy, 7, two of his three children, as a studio audience. At home, Mrs. Muriel Humphrey and Bobby, 2, followed the performance by radio.
The mayor was heard on WCCO's portion of the weekly Sunday "Fun at Home" broadcasts suggested by George Grim of the Tribune and sponsored by the city's radio stations during the voluntary polio quarantine.
JUST LIKE POPEYE
Humphrey's vocal triumph came when he gave Swee'pea, infant cartoon character, a voice convincingly like that of Popeye, the baby's foster father. His worst lapse was when he failed immediately to identify Aunt Jones, a character in the same cartoon. He covered the "fluff" by complaining that Aunt Jones had altered her hairdo.
The mayor's final touch of civic pride came when he allowed that the practically instantaneous postal service supplied on Swee'pea's letter to Popeye must have been air mail via "Northwest Airlines or Mid-Continent."
Mayor Humphrey, Nancy and Skipper at the WCCO microphone. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)
The mayor used a wise-guy snear as he got into a Sad Sack character. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)