David Harum (radio program)

David Harum is an American old-time radio soap opera. It was broadcast on CBS, Mutual, and NBC. It ran from January 27, 1936, to January 5, 1951.[2]

David Harum
Cameron Prud'homme Charme Allen Joan Tompkins David Harum 1947.JPG
Cameron Prud'homme (David Harum), Charme Allen (Aunt Polly) and Joan Tompkins (Susan Price Wells) in David Harum.
GenreSoap opera
Running time15 minutes
Country of originUnited States
StarringCraig McDonnell
Cameron Prud'homme
Wilmer Walter
AnnouncerFord Bond
Written byPeggy Blake
John DeWitt
Noel Gerson
Charles J. Gussman
Johanna Johnson
Mary W. Reeves
Directed byMartha Atwell
Himan Brown
John Buckwalter
Arthur Hanna
Ed King
Lester Vail
Produced byFrank Hummert
Anne Hummert
Original releaseJanuary 27, 1936 (1936-01-27) – January 5, 1951 (1951-01-05)
Opening themeSunbonnet Sue[1]


Edward Noyes Westcott wrote the novel David Harum, which was published in 1898. That book became the basis for the David Harum radio program and for films of the same name made in 1915 and in 1934. The character was based on the real-life David Hannum, "a flamboyant banker, farmer, and horse trader", who lived in Homer, New York.[3]


The title character was a banker in Homeville, a village in New England. A confirmed bachelor, David Harum had a helpful disposition and "exposed sinister mavericks that were determined to take advantage of local denizens."[4]

In The Great Radio Soap Operas, Jim Cox wrote:

David Harum was a ray of sunshine to the downtrodden masses in his community. Never bewildered by those who used evil means to gain fortune at the expense of the weak, he vigilantly pursued piety. He was the epitome of rectitude within the heart and soul of small-town America. Even those incessant giveaways that brought his shows into listeners' homes could never diminish the character that personified this kindly little country philosopher. In him, perhaps, his most devoted fans saw something that they too had always wanted to be.[5]

In another book, Radio Crime Fighters: More Than 300 Programs from the Golden Age, Cox described Harum as "a private eye in banker's clothing" who "set out to right the wrongs that were perpetrated against his invariably vulnerable townsfolk."[1]


Characters on David Harum and the actors who portrayed them are shown in the table below:[1]

Character Actor
David Harum Craig McDonnell
Cameron Prud'homme
Wilmer Walter
Aunt Polly Benson Charme Allen
Eve Condon
James Benson Bennett Kilpack
Susan Price Wells Peggy Allenby
Joan Tompkins
Gertrude Warner
Brian Wells Donald Briggs
Philip Reed
Ken Williams
Silas Finke Ray Bramley
John Lennox Joseph Curtin
Clarissa Oakley Marjorie Davies
Elsie Anderson Ethel Everett
Deacon Perkins Roy Fant
Mark Carter Paul Ford
Tess Terwilliger Florence Lake
Zeke Sweeney Arthur Maitland
Grandpa Eph Junius Matthews
Henry Longacre Richard McKay
Clarissa Oakley Claudia Morgan
Willy Billy Redfield
Lish Harem William Shelley
Charlie Paul Stewart

Frank and Anne Hummert produced the program. Directors were Martha Atwell, Himan Brown, John Buckwalter, Arthur Hanna, Ed King, and Lester Vail. Writers were Peggy Blake, John DeWitt, Noel Gerson, Charles J. Gussman, Johanna Johnson, and Mary W. Reeves. Music was by Stanley Davis. The announcer was Ford Bond.[1]


The broadcast schedule for David Harum is shown in the table below.[1]

Starting Date Ending Date Network
January 27, 1936 March 27, 1936 NBC Blue
March 30, 1936 January 10, 1947 NBC[note 1]
January 13, 1947 January 6, 1950 CBS
January 9, 1950 January 5, 1951 NBC


David Harum was sponsored by Bab-O household cleaner.[2] During its first nine years of sponsoring the program, Bab-O rose from seventh place[6] among household cleaners to be the leader as measured by dollar volume of sales.[7]

David Harum was among the earliest radio programs to offer premiums to listeners as a way of measuring the show's popularity. In one instance, packets of seed were offered to anyone who sent in 10 cents and a label from the sponsor's product. The 275,000 responses "delighted sponsors and convinced many stations to carry the program."[8] At another time, members of the audience were invited to submit suggestions for a name for Harum's horse, and more than 400,000 responded.[8] The Encyclopedia of Radio noted that David Harum was one of the first radio programs in which products were promoted by the star rather than the announcer.[9]

In 1938, Bab-O's manufacturer, B.T. Babbitt, ventured away from cleaning products to introduce David Harum dog food. Purchasers could obtain a dog leash for 75 cents and a product label and/or a collar for 25 cents and a label.[10] In 1943, Babbit introduced Aunt Polly's Soup Mix, which was named after one of the program's characters. The mix was introduced to coincide with a soup-making project with which Aunt Polly was involved on the program. [11]

Another promotion invited listeners to "actually have a bit of Ireland —- a piece of stone from Blarney Castle grounds — to wear ... as one of four charms of a lovely golden colored bracelet" by sending a Bab-O label with 25 cents.[12] An on-air promotional announcement noted that the bracelet is "like the bracelets David is having made for June Saunders in our story. But it's real."[12] The promotion resulted in 300,000 labels and quarters being submitted in 10 days.[13]


  1. ^ The program was also carried on Mutual in 1937-1938 and on CBS February 2, 1942 - May 14, 1943.


  1. ^ a b c d e Cox, Jim (2010). Radio Crime Fighters: More Than 300 Programs from the Golden Age. McFarland. pp. 95–96. ISBN 9781476612270. Retrieved 25 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved 2019-12-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Marinelli, Janet (May 1988). "Saga of the David Harum House". XVI (3): 21. Retrieved 24 June 2017. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Cox, Jim (2009). The A to Z of American Radio Soap Operas. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810863491. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Cox, Jim (2008). The Great Radio Soap Operas. McFarland. p. 51. ISBN 9781476604145. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Cox, Jim (2013). Sold on Radio: Advertisers in the Golden Age of Broadcasting. McFarland. pp. 250–251. ISBN 9780786451760. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Woodworth, Harry (November 27, 1944). "Don't Take Your Sp. I. Too Seriously" (PDF). Broadcasting. p. 22. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b Reinehr, Robert C.; Swartz, Jon D. (2010). The A to Z of Old Time Radio. Scarecrow Press. p. 76. ISBN 9781461672074. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Sterling, Christopher H. (2004). Encyclopedia of Radio 3-Volume Set. Routledge. p. 402. ISBN 9781135456498. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "New Babbitt Item" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 1, 1938. p. 40. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Babbitt Introduces Soup On NBC Daytime Period" (PDF). Broadcasting. May 10, 1943. p. 16. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ a b Hill, Weston (February 15, 1943). "Golden Age of Advertising Forecast" (PDF). Broadcasting. p. 20. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Mr. Jones" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 9, 1948. p. 91. Retrieved 24 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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