Kenneth Howard "Kenny" Delmar (September 5, 1910, Boston, Massachusetts – July 14, 1984, Stamford, Connecticut) was an American actoractive in radio, films, and animation. An announcer on the pioneering radio news series The March of Time, he became a national radio sensation in 1945 as Senator Beauregard Claghorn on Fred Allen's program Allen's Alley. The character Delmar created was a primary inspiration for the Warner Bros. cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn.
Early life and career
Kenneth Frederick Fay Howard was born September 5, 1910, in Boston, but moved to New York City in infancy after the separation of his parents. His mother, Evelyn Delmar, was a vaudevillian who toured the country with her sister. Kenny Delmar was on the stage from age seven. His first screen appearance was in the D. W. Griffith film Orphans of the Storm (1921), in which he played the Joseph Schildkraut role as a child. During the Depression he left the stage to work in his stepfather's business. After running his own dancing school for a year he married one of his ballet teachers, Alice Cochran, and decided to try a career in radio.
By the late 1930s, Delmar was an announcer on such major radio series as The March of Time and Your Hit Parade. He played multiple roles in The Mercury Theatre on the Air's infamous October 1938 radio drama The War of the Worlds. His main role was that of Captain Lansing, the National Guardsman who collapses in terror when confronted by the Martian invaders.He also was heard as Commissioner Weston on early episodes of The Shadow.
Delmar is notable for creating the character Senator Beauregard Claghorn on Fred Allen's radio program Allen's Alley, which he did while also serving as the show's regular announcer. Senator Claghorn made his radio debut October 7, 1945, and six months later was called "unquestionably the most quoted man in the nation" by Life magazine. The role inspired the Warner Bros.animated character Foghorn Leghorn, first seen in the Oscar-nominated cartoon Walky Talky Hawky (1946).
"During the late 1940s, Mr. Delmar captivated 20 million radio listeners every Sunday night with his burlesque of a bombastic, super-chauvinistic legislator who drank only from Dixie cups and refused to drive through the Lincoln Tunnel," wrote The New York Times. "His stock expression, 'That's a joke, son,' was for many years one of the nation's pet phrases, mimicked by children and businessmen alike. … The windbag character, he said, was inspired by a Texas cattle rancher who had picked him up while he was hitchhiking and barely stopped talking."
At the height of his popularity, Delmar also starred as Claghorn in a theatrical feature film, It's a Joke, Son! (1947).
Delmar was also announcer and voice performer on The Alan Young Show. One of the characters that he played was Counselor Cartonbranch who is obviously similar in mannerisms and voice to Senator Claghorn.
Delmar was also a well-utilized cartoon voice talent whose voice was familiar to baby-boomers as Commander McBragg, The Hunter, and other Saturday morning cartoon icons.
He is buried in Stamford's Long Ridge Union Cemetery.