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July 25, 1898
San Jose, California
June 2, 1961 (aged 62)|
Newport Beach, California
After peddling insurance door-to-door during the 1920s, Al Pearce began selling real estate. With his brother Cal, he sang on the air in 1928 as part of the San Francisco Real Estate Glee Club. Al Pearce moved from music to comedy on KFRC, San Francisco, after writer Jack Hasty gave him a comedy sketch about a nervous door-to-door salesman named Elmer Blurt. As Pearce rose to fame, Blurt's running gag, "Nobody home, I hope, I hope, I hope," became a national catch phrase.
When Pearce's The Happy Go Lucky Hour (sometimes titled Al Pearce and His Gang) began on KFRC in 1928, his gang consisted of brother Cal, Abe Bloom, Charles Carter, Jean Clarimoux, Edna Fisher, Tommy Harris, Norman Nielsen, Monroe Upton (as Lord Bilgewater), Hazel Warner and Cecil Wright. The musical-variety show scored such a success in San Francisco from 1928 until 1932 that it moved to the Blue Network on January 13, 1934, airing Saturdays at 6 p.m. until September when the 30-minute series split into two 15-minute shows heard Mondays and Fridays at 5 p.m. It continued in those timeslots until March 29, 1935.
Pearce gained a sponsor with Pepsodent Toothpaste for Friday afternoon shows on both the Blue Network and NBC from May 13, 1935, until April 3, 1936. His mid-1930s gang included comic Morey Amsterdam, "human chatterbox" Arlene Harris, vocalist Mabel Todd (1907–1977), singing comic Andy Andrews (who would later achieve regional fame as "Ranger Andy," the host of a popular Hartford children's program), and nutty cooking and health expert "Tizzie Lish", portrayed by Bill Comstock.
Beginning January 5, 1937, Pearce moved to CBS for the Ford Motor-sponsored series, Watch the Fun Go By, airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. until June 28, 1938. In 1937 Arthur "Artie" Auberbach joined the show as the Yiddish-accented "Mr. Kitzel," staying until about 1946 when he joined Jack Benny's show.
Sponsored by Grape Nuts, Pearce returned to NBC Mondays at 8 p.m. from October 10, 1938, to July 31, 1939.
Camel Cigarettes was his sponsor for his CBS series Fridays at 7:30pm from May 3, 1940, until January 2, 1942.
In 1944, his sponsor was Dr. Pepper (which still had the dot in the name then), and when he was replaced on the Blue Network by an audience participation show, Darts for Dough, Pearce continued elsewhere while Dr. Pepper stayed on as the sponsor of Darts for Dough.
See main article, The Al Pearce Show.
In 1952, Pearce had two television programs, one a daily daytime show and one a weekly nighttime show. Both were called The Al Pearce Show.
Pearce starred as himself in Here Comes Elmer, which featured his Elmer Blurt character. He also appeared in low-budget movies, including Hitchhike to Happiness (1945) and The Main Street Kid (1948).
- Erickson, Hal (2014). From Radio to the Big Screen: Hollywood Films Featuring Broadcast Personalities and Programs. McFarland. p. 205. ISBN 9781476615585. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
- "Al Pearce". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
- Schneider, John F. (2006). "Al Pearce". Bay Area Radio Museum & Hall of Fame.
- Schneider, John F. (1997). "History of KFRC San Francisco and the Don Lee Networks". oldradio.com.
- Al Pearce scripts