August 28, 1944
Judy for Punch
Charlie McCarthy is in for trouble. On Sept. 3 on the Chase & Sanborn program (NBC, Sun., 8-8:30 p.m. E.W.T.) Charley will be introduced to the first wooden woman who ever sat on Edgar Bergen’s lap—a new not-so-dummy named Effie Klinker. From advance hints last week it appeared that McCarthy would find the rebuttal of Effie Klinker by no means so easy as, for five years, he has that of the gap-toothed, apple-knocking Mortimer Snerd.
For years Bergen has been as wary of female dummies as McCarthy is likely to be after his first encounter with Effie Klinker. Long ago Bergen had a bad vaudeville flop with the effigy of an eight-year-old. But ten months ago, asked to perform on an NBC show without either McCarthy or Snerd, he folded his handkerchief over his fingers, threw his falsetto voice, and one Ophelia began to talk. “All of a sudden,” recalls Bergen, “it dawned on me that women can get into many more situations than men, particularly a bachelor maid.” Bergen has kept Ophelia in his act, as a sort of ectoplasmic voice. A while back he asked several Hollywood animated cartoonists to draw what flashed into their minds when they heard her recordings.
He sat down and drew his own version (based on that of Disney Cartoonist Kenneth O’Brien). From Bergen’s final sketch, RKO Sculptor Joseph Zokoirch modeled Effie in plaster. The final wooden achievement is a full-fashioned ventrilowitch named for Bergen’s senior script writer, Zeno Klinker.
Effie is just about old enough to be Charley’s great aunt. Her background is New England, her foreground bosomy. Her lower lip is lush. On her purple, leg-of-mutton-sleeved blouse she sports a gold lapel watch which Bergen bought for her for $35 in a Manhattan curiosity shop. She sets off her sleekly whittled nether extremities in Gay Nineties round-striped hose.
Inside her prim decor lurks a spry libido. She favors doctors and dentists, not because she needs pills or teeth, but because “they are so good-looking and so young.” On her recent first trip to Manhattan, she surprised her transport pilot with her ready ear for smoking-car subtleties. So far she has said nothing in public except “H-m-m-m-m-m-m-m.” This is delivered in the tone of a cordial spinster to the man under the bed.
Click here to listen to one of Effie Klinker’s first appearances on “Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy.” (I think this is actually her first appearance on the show, but don’t quote me on that. However, this show was aired during the 7th War Loan campaign, meaning either October or November of 1944.)