Fabulous New Offer from Baby Snooks
Snooks came about through bad dentistry. Fanny had had teeth problems
for years, and before one particular radio rehearsal her dentist
let her come away without her dentures. Fanny was unable to speak
properly. Frantic, the producer suddenly remembered a cute baby
act Fanny would do at parties and in front of friends. It was
the only thing she could do in her current condition. What
do you call her? the producer cried. Schnooks,
she needed material instantly. Rapp and David Freedman
(his writing partner at the time) frantically searched the nearest
bookcase and came up with an out of print (public domain) collection
of sketches by Robert James Burdette titled Chimes From a Jesters
Bells. Finding a humorous piece about a kid and his uncle called
The Simple Story of George Washington, the kid was
switched to a girl, Rapp changed Schnooks to Snooks,
and history was made.
Brice was born on October 29, 1891 and found early fame starring
in the Ziegfield Follies from 1911 to 1923. And it was on Ziegfield
Follies of the Air (which Phil Rapp wrote and directed from 1936-37)
that Baby Snooks took her first hilarious step. The Snooks sketches
began as a regular feature in 1937 on the variety show Good News,
and became the main attraction on Maxwell House Coffee Time in
1940. In 1944 the impish problem child began her own radio program,
The Baby Snooks Show.
series dealt with the childish innocence and constant questioning
from little baby Snooks whichclashed with considerable force against
the long-suffering Daddy, first played by film actor
Frank Morgan. Alan Reed next took over the adult role. But it
is Hanley Stafford who is best remembered as Daddy, with his incredibly
painful line readings of Oooooh
Brownell and then Arlene Harris played the mother, while versatile
child impersonator Lenore Ledoux gave out cries as little baby
brother, Robespierre. The announcers switched between Ken Roberts
and Harlow Wilcox (famous as the Fibber McGee announcer).
sponsors for Baby Snooks included Post cereals, Sanka coffee,
Spic-n-Span, Tums antacid, and Jell-O. The musical theme was Rock-A-Bye
Baby. Rapp wrote all the material.
series ended with Fannys unexpected, untimely demise at
the age of 50 in 1951. No one could replace her in the title role
of Snooks. And no one did. A tribute program was aired the week
following her death.