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Mel Blanc’s Portland Years: Craig Adams Explains It All For You

In News on June 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm
Portland radio historian Craig Adams and  Live Wire Radio producer Robyn Tenenbaum will give the fourth and final Mel Blanc Lecture on Wednesday, June 29, in PSU’s Lincoln Hall, at 7:30 PM.
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This event is free and open to the public.
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CRAIG ADAMS’ MEL BLANC TIMELINE can be found in its entirety on his wonderful website, www.pdxradio.com.
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CHILDHOOD
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On May 30, 1908 Melvin Jerome Blank was born in San Francisco to Frederick and Eva (Katz) Blank.  Mel had a four year older brother Henry Charles.
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In 1915 the Blank family moved to Portland when Melvin was six years old and lived at 225 1/2 Sherman St.  Mel grew up in a diverse area of South Portland where  he spent his boyhood listening to conversations between people of various nationalities.  Those conversations would later become the genesis of his mastery of dialects and accents.  Mel attended Shattuck Elementary School, Commerce High School & Lincoln High School.
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On Dec 14, 1917 Mel participated in the “Winter Swimming & Diving Meet” at Couch School tank.  Eight year old Melvin Blank was part of the 60 foot dash event.
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By 1920 the Blank family had moved to 543 S.W. 5th Ave.
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This image is from http://www.pdxhistory.com.
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On April 2, 1923 Melvin Blank was admitted into the “Keep Growing Wiser Order of Hoot Owls” along with nearly 200 others from all over the United States & Canada.
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TEEN AGE MEL EXPLORES HIS TALENTS
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On June 23, 1923 Mel was first featured on the KGW program “Stories By Aunt Nell” from 3:30 to 4pm.  Here’s Mel’s first write up:  “For the entertainment of the children, this afternoon Melvin Blank, a boy with a good voice, will sing a number of solos, accompanied on the piano by his brother, William Blank.  Aunt Nell will read additional chapters from Allen Chaffee’s story of “Sitka, The Snow Baby.”  Children love the story of the little Polar cub and his adventures and messages come in daily asking for another story about him.”
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On Nov 2, 1923 Mel participated in the semi-annual “Frosh Frolic” to the delight of the freshmen: Violin selections, Melvin Blanc with Clara Tasker accompanying: recitation, “Daddy” by Estelle Weinstein.
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On Feb 29, 1924 Melvin Blank was a guest on KGW’s “Hoot Owls.” 15 year old Mel performed two numbers he had carried out at Lincoln High’s Commerce Vaudeville show, the same night.
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This  1926 news photo is from  www.pdxhistory.com .
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On April 29, 1925 Melvin Blank was part of the supporting cast of “A Single Man” presented by “The Council of Jewish Juniors” held in the Woman’s Club building (12th & Taylor Sts.) at 8:15pm.  H.H. Davis wrote the amusing comedy.
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On Nov 22, 1925 Melvin Blank was a part of the “South Parkway Club Minstrel Show” held at the Neighborhood House (2nd & Woods Sts.).  Featuring Max Rosumny performing the song “Goin’ South.”
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On April 29, 1926 Melvin Blank participated in the four act play “Disraeli” held at the Heilig Theater by The Center Players.
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On Oct 13, 1926 Mel was teaching the ukulele at “The B’nai B’rith Center” in preparation for the Winter season.  “Twenty-Five have signed for the Ukulele Club which will start its practice at 8 o’clock under the direction of Melvin Blank.”
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On Oct 23, 1926 Mel entertained at “The B’nai B’rith Center” Sport Party. “About 45 couples attended.  Several features were given and among them Melvin Blank entertained the guests with several selections on the ukulele and some song hits.”
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PROFESSIONAL RADIO DEBUT
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In 1927 Melvin Blank became a regular member on Portland’s KGW Hoot Owl broadcasts.
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MEL LEAVES PORTLAND & RETURNS, Part ONE
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In 1928-29?  With his deep bass tooting and his Yiddish stories, Mel won enough fame to land a job at San Francisco’s KFWI.  However, Mel couldn’t save the station from going bankrupt.
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This  photo is from www.pdxhistory.com.
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On Nov 8, 1929 Mel Blanc returned to the KGW Hoot Owls with a Milt Gross story of his own about the goose that laid the golden eggs.
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On March 26, 1931 Mel Blanc officially became “Musical Director” of the 11-piece “RKO Westerners” orchestra at Portland’s “RKO Orpheum Theatre”.
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MEL LEAVES PORTLAND & RETURNS, Part Two
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On May 17, 1931 it was announced Mel was leaving Portland  (again) for NBC San Francisco (KGO).  It was “Mel’s work on NBC Orange network broadcasts originating at KGW on the Hoot Owls that won him some fame in radio circles in California.”
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On June 3, 1931 Mel Blanc made his NBC Orange “Pacific Coast Network” debut on the program “The Road Show”.  Mel sang in dialect the song “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and telling the story of “George Washingcohen at Wally Fudge.”  The program was not carried on KGW.
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On June 23, 1931 KGW listeners had their first opportunity at 9:30am to hear Mel Blanc since he moved to NBC San Francisco.  He was featured on the program “The Entertainers.”

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On August 13, 1931 it was announced NBC’s San Francisco based “The Road Show” had been canceled.  Mel returned to KGW in Portland where they immediately debuted a new show in which Mel was the main character, entitled “De Inside Dope On Heestery”.  The program was heard at 9pm every night except Wednesday’s and Sunday’s.  The show also featured Rita Bell & Albert Gillette and ran until Sept 12, 1931.  Mel was also back on The Hoot Owls and featured on other KGW shows.
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On Sept 24, 1931 (Follow-up) “The Road Show with Mel Blanc as master of ceremonies made a hit last Summer and many and bitter were the complaints when due to the terrific expense of the production, NBC saw fit to side track it.”
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MEL LEAVES PORTLAND & RETURNS, Part THREE
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On March 1, 1932  “Mel Banc left for Los Angeles. On April 6, 1932 Mel Blanc began on KNX Los Angeles at 3pm.  Mel would also be heard later over “The Don Lee Columbia Network”, serving CBS’s West Coast affiliates only.
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On Oct 25, 1932 it was announced Mel Blanc was working at KHJ Los Angeles.  The station was the flagship of the West Coast “Don Lee Broadcasting System,” DLBS.  Mel was a regular on the networks “Merrymakers” program, heard on KOIN in Portland.
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On Feb 17, 1933 Mel Blanc appeared on the DLBS Network program  “Happy-Go-Lucky Hour” at 2:15pm, doing one of his Yiddish stories.  This show was heard on KOIN.  Another appearance on March 7, 1933.
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On May 24, 1933 it was announced Mel Blanc was just married a few days ago and the couple were moving to Portland.
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On June 1, 1933 “Mel Blanc and bride were both heard over Portland’s KEX at 9:30pm on “Circus Court of The Air.”
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On June 14, 1933 Mel Blanc and wife began the program “Cobwebs and Nuts” on KEX, running Monday through Saturday 11 to midnight.  “To describe it, is too much trouble, but it can be said the thing will be conducted by Mel Blanc.”  [Mel was one of the first disc jockey’s, spending part of the program talking back to recordings.  This mentioned on 4-7-49.]
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On Nov 29, 1933 Mel launches an additional program called “Hi-de-ho-ho Corporation” on KEX at 9pm. This program is 15 minutes long and runs Monday’s, Wednesday’s & Friday’s.  It lasted until December 27, 1933.
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MEL LEAVES PORTLAND, Part FOUR
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On June 15, 1935 the last “Cobwebs and Nuts” program aired on KEX. Mel and Estelle Blanc move to LA.
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On Feb 7, 1937 Mel Blanc was heard for the first time in a “Looney Tunes” animated short, released from Warner Bros. on this date, “Porky’s Road Race” with cast Joe Dougherty & Billy Bletcher.  [Porky’s Road Race Copyright – July 3, 1937]
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On Sept 30, 1937 Mel Blanc is already referred to in print as “The Man of a Hundred Voices”.
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The  June 29 Lincoln Hall lecture  celebrating Mel Blanc Day is a six way panel discussion between Dennis Nyback, Anne Richardson, Craig Adams, Robyn Tenenbaum, Sean McGrath and Courtenay Hameister on the topic of Portland radio: past, present and future.
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For Mel Blanc scholars who want to bone up before June 29, Craig Adams published a timeline of Mel Blanc’s Portland career on his website, http://www.pdxradio.com.
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The Mel Blanc Project  is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

Another recommended method of deepening your knowledge is to attend the entire lecture series,  Mel Blanc: The Portland Years.