Born in Decatur, Michigan in 1903, Edgar Bergen developed a talent for ventriloquism at a young age. When Bergen asked a local carpenter to create a dummy, the wisecracking Charlie McCarthy was born. The duo began their career as talent show headliners, performing in Chicago while Bergen attended Northwestern University. Bergen eventually left Northwestern to concentrate on performing, but Charlie received an honorary degree from the school in 1938, a “Master of Innuendo and Snappy Comebacks.”Bergen and McCarthy made their radio debut on Rudy Vallee’s Royal Gelatin Hour in 1936 and were an instant success. In 1937, they were given their own show for Chase & Sanborn. Almost immediately, The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show became one of radio’s highest-rated programs, a distinction it enjoyed until it left the air in 1956.During the show’s two decades on the air, Bergen added new characters to the show, including the slow-witted Mortimer Snerd and the man-hungry spinster Effie Klinker. Today, Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd and Effie Klinker are on permanent display at the Radio Hall of Fame.Edgar Bergen died on October 1, 1978.The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.
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Born in Decatur, Michigan in 1903, Edgar Bergen developed a talent for ventriloquismat a young age.