Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen developed his Charlie McCarthy characterization while attending high school, basing his alter ego on a brash Irish newsboy named Charlie who sold papers on a Decator street corner. Bergen sketched the newsboy inside his history book and paid part-time woodcarver Theodore Mack to sculpt a ventriloquism dummy head out of a block of white pine. Bergen performed with the dummy while attending Northwestern University and eventually left college to tour vaudeville. With the decline of vaudeville during the Great Depression, Bergen moved into night spots like Chicago’s fashionable Chez Paree and New York’s trendy Rainbow Room but feared his newsboy friend wouldn’t be appreciated by high society: "We were booked to play the Helen Morgan Club in New York," he recalled, "and I didn’t think a newsboy was quite the thing for a nightclub. I asked Esquire if I could make a dummy out of their mascot, ‘Esky.’ At first they thought it was a good idea but then they changed their minds . . . so there was nothing left to do except to make Charlie the ‘man about town,’ and that’s how he got his monocle, top hat and tails." Following a three-month guest stint on Rudy Vallee’s Royal Gelatin Hour, Edgar Bergen was signed as headliner of The Chase and Sanborn Hour. The series premiered May 9, 1937 and ended the next three seasons as radio’s top-rated series.
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