Smilin’ Ed McConnell (1892-1954) was born this day. The son of an Atlanta minister, McConnell started out as a gospel and folk singer, breaking into local radio in 1922. Fifteen years later he became NBC’s “Sunshine Melody Man”, bringing songs and folksy patter to national audiences, and introducing musical guests.
In 1944 McConnell attained his greatest fame as the host of Smilin’ Ed’s Buster Brown Gang a kid’s show sponsored by Buster Brown shoes, which we previously wrote about here. The show’s cast of characters including Froggy the Gremlin (whom McConnell had introduced on some of his shows years earlier), and Midnight the Cat. Voices were provided by McConnell, June Foray, John Dehner and announcer Archie Presby. In 1950 the television version was launched, which Smilin’ Ed hosted until his death by heart attack in 1954. At that point it became Andy’s Gang, hosted by Andy Divine, which ran until 1960.