Penny Singleton (September 15, 1908 – November 12, 2003) was an American film actress. Born Marianna Dorothy Agnes Letitia McNulty in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (commonly known as Dorothy McNulty), she was the daughter of an Irish-American newspaperman Benny McNulty — from whom she received the nickname "Penny" because she was "as bright as a penny."
During her 60-year career, Singleton appeared as the comic-strip heroine Blondie Bumstead in a series of 28 motion pictures from 1938 until 1950 and the popular Blondie radio program from 1939 until 1950.
Singleton also provided the voice of Jane Jetson in the animated series The Jetsons.
For her contributions to both radio and the motion-picture industry, in 1960, Singleton was honored with two stars as she was inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star for radio is located at 6811 Hollywood Boulevard, and her film star is just a few footsteps away, at 6547 Hollywood Boulevard.
Singleton began her show-business career when she was a child, singing at a silent movie theater, and toured in vaudeville as part of an act called "The Kiddie Kabaret." She sang and danced with Milton Berle, whom she had known since childhood, and actor Gene Raymond, and appeared on Broadway in Jack Benny's The Great Temptations. She also toured in nightclubs and roadshows of plays and musicals.
Singleton appeared as a nightclub singer in After the Thin Man, and was credited at this time as Dorothy McNulty. She was cast opposite Arthur Lake (as Dagwood) in the feature film Blondie in 1938, based on the comic strip by Chic Young. They repeated their roles on a radio comedy beginning in 1939 and in guest appearances on other radio shows. As Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead, they proved so popular that a succession of 27 sequels was made from 1938 until 1950, with the radio show ending the same year. Singleton's husband Robert Sparks produced 12 of these sequels. Singleton dyed her brunette hair blonde for the rest of her life.
Singleton won top billing in Go West, Young Lady over her male co-star, Glenn Ford — putting her in the elite company of only two other female stars (Dorothy Page and Jane Frazee) who held the headliner roles as top-billed singing cowgirls.
She starred as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls at the summer Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1954. She became familiar to television audiences as the voice of Jane Jetson in the animated series The Jetsons, which originally aired from 1962 until 1963, reprising the role for a syndicated revival from 1985 through 1988 and for assorted specials, records, and Jetsons: The Movie (1990).
She was active in union affairs as a member of the American Guild of Variety Artists. In 1967, she led a month-long strike by the Radio City Rockettes for better working conditions, which they won. She subsequently became the first woman to head an AFL-CIO union when she was elected President of AGVA in 1969.
Singleton died in Sherman Oaks, California, following a stroke, and was interred in San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. She is buried with her sister June. Her name does not appear on the headstone.
She was married to Dr. Laurence Scogga Singleton, a dentist, from 1937 until their divorce in 1939. She was married to Robert Sparks from 1941 until his death on July 22, 1963.
Singleton had a daughter with each of her husbands.
She died in November 2003 at the age of 95 of respiratory failure.
Good News (1930)
Love in the Rough (1930)
After the Thin Man (1936)
Vogues of 1938 (1937)
Sea Racketeers (1937)
Outside of Paradise (1938)
Men Are Such Fools (1938)
Racket Busters (1938)
Mr. Chump (1938)
Boy Meets Girl (1938)
Secrets of an Actress (1938)
Garden of the Moon (1938)
The Mad Miss Manton (1938)
Hard to Get (1938)
Blondie Meets the Boss (1939)
Blondie Takes a Vacation (1939)
Blondie Brings Up Baby (1939)
Blondie on a Budget (1940)
Blondie Has Servant Trouble (1940)
Blondie Plays Cupid (1940)
Blondie Goes Latin (1941)
Blondie in Society (1941)
Go West, Young Lady (1941)
Blondie Goes to College (1942)
Blondie's Blessed Event (1942)
Blondie for Victory (1942)
It's a Great Life (1943)
Footlight Glamour (1943)
Leave It to Blondie (1945)
Life with Blondie (1945)
Young Widow (1946)
Blondie's Lucky Day (1946)
Blondie Knows Best (1946)
Blondie's Big Moment (1947)
Blondie's Holiday (1947)
Blondie in the Dough (1947)
Blondie's Anniversary (1947)
Blondie's Reward (1948)
Blondie's Secret (1948)
Blondie's Big Deal (1949)
Blondie Hits the Jackpot (1949)
Blondie's Hero (1950)
Beware of Blondie (1950)
The Best Man (scenes deleted, 1964)
The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones - TV Movie - Jane Jetson (1987)
Daws Butler: Voice Magician - TV movie - herself (1987)
Rockin' with Judy Jetson - TV movie - Jane Jetson (1988)
A Yabba-Dabba-Doo Celebration!: 50 Years of Hanna-Barbera - TV movie documentary - Jane Jetson (1989)
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera - theme-park short - Jane Jetson (1990)
Jetsons: The Movie (voice, 1990)
Belle of the Night (1930)
Campus Cinderella (1938)
Screen Snapshots Series 19, No. 1 (1939)
The Jetsons - Jane Jetson, additional voices (1962)
The Jetsons - Jane Jetson, additional voices (1985-1987)
Murder, She Wrote - "The Perfect Foil" - Aunt Mildred (1986)
"The Twilight Zone"- "Sounds and Silences"- Mrs. Flemington (1964)
Sky High (1925)
Sweetheart Time (1926)
The Great Temptations (1926)
Good News (1928) (replacement for Zelma O'Neal)
Hey Nonny Nonny! (1932)
Call Me Madam (1959)
No, No, Nanette (1972) (replacement for Ruby Keeler)
No, No, Nanette (1974)
Little Me (1983)
2. Vallance, Tom (November 15, 2003). "Penny Singleton". The Independent.
3. Singing In The Saddle, Douglas B. Green © 2002/Vanderbilt Univ. Press and Country Music Foundation Press. Pg. 210.