Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dixie Dugan and Renny McEvoy

Dixie Dugan was based on the books by J. P. McEvoy, "Showgirl" and "Showgirl in Hollywood".
McEvoy sold the motion picture rights to First National, and then the musical play rights to Ziegfeld.
So the theme was hot, McEvoy had written  comic strips before, back when he worked for the
Chicago Tribune, so why not another comic strip?

Showgirl started on October 21, 1929, changing its name to Dixie Dugan on December 23, 1929
It lasted up to October 8, 1966.  The theme of the strip changed from "show girl" to "working girl" in April of 1930.         The author of the strip was credited to J.P. McEvoy from 1929 to 1955, and then
Renny McEvoy from 1955 to 1966. Art credited to John H. Striebel. Sunday added Feb 5, 1933.
Topper strip was Good Deed Dotty.  Various artists assisted throughout the time, with Al Barre taking over the art sometime in the 1960s.

There are various articles and websites out on J. P. McEvoy, including Wikipedia, so I'll let you go and look on your own.  Just keep in mind that he shaved around 5 years off his age (yes, even in the 1920s, being old
was old fashioned), and that J. P. was a story teller and not a historian.

But who was Renny McEvoy?

Besides Dixie, we know that he wrote some other comic strips:
Hollywood Johnnie (1945 to 1948) also known as Hollywood Merry-Go-Round, and Screen Girl. Ths small strip on top of  the Sunday was  Movie Struck (1946 to 1948). Art by Jim Pabain, animator.
Merrie Chase (1949 to 1950)  art by Carl Hubbell, then Paul Reinman, both were known for their comic book work.

Rennie McEvoy (1905 - 1987)  was born Reynold Thomas Wurnelle, both parents were actors, his mother,  married J. P. McEvoy in 1915, when  Rennie was 10, and they  divorced in 1922   .
He lived with his grandparents in Freemont Ohio in the 1910s-1920s.  He attended Miami University in Ohio, for two years, leaving the school in 1929, when he was unable to afford the next year.
He first went to NYC, when he had minor roles in radio and Broadway.  He then returned home to Chicago,  then in 1931 moved to Elyra, Ohio, where his brother lived, and took a job as a clerk.
   An article syndicated in 1943, states that he started scripting Dixie Dugan 11 years earlier (1932),
Sometime between 1931 and 1939, he took his former stepfather's last name.
In 1939, Rennie appeared in the Broadway musical, Stars In Your Eyes, as a soundman, singing along with
Jimmy Durante, and Ethel Merman. Book of the show was by J.P. McEvoy.

He started to appear in bit parts in movies in 1941, moving into larger parts by the mid 1940s.
Newspapers in 1946 report that he had written for the Charlie McCarthy radio show.
A movie star, named Reynold Wurnelle shows up in Dixie Dugan in September 1949, where it is
believed he plans to marry Dixie.
He continued in movie and television, even after the end of Dixie Dugan, up to 1969.