Penny Singleton, the voice of Jane Jetson and the actress who brought the popular comic strip character Blondie to life in films, died Nov. 12, 2003 at Sherman Oaks Hospital, two weeks after suffering a stroke, at the age of 95.
Singleton was best known on camera for her role as the wife to bumbling husband, Dagwood Bumstead (played by Arthur Lake) in THE BLONDIE series, which had 28 films from 1938 to 1950. The films were based on the cartoon strip, created by Chic Young in 1930, about the misadventures of a small town family. The animation world loved Singleton as the voice of the matron, Jane Jetson in Hanna-Barberas primetime animated series, THE JETSONS. While the show only ran for one season (1962-63) in primetime, it repeated for years in daytime and syndication, and the series was revived in its 25th year, featuring the original voices. Singleton provided the voice of Jane in the full-length animated feature, JETSONS THE MOVIE, released by Universal Pictures in 1990.
While the series was the 21st century counterpart to THE FLINTSTONES, show co-creator Joe Barbera often admitted the show and casting of Singleton was influenced by the BLONDIE films.
Singleton remained close for years to Janet Waldo, the voice of her animated daughter, Judy Jetson. The two lived nearby, called each other often and got together frequently for lunch. Waldo, msomewhat shocked to realize she is now the only surviving original Jetson cast member, told AWN, She was one of the most alive people Ive met in my life. She was always excited about life, eager to do any new opportunity and filled with joy. My most recent memories I have of her are of this joyful, twinkly eyed, darling person who would always say, OK Janet now, what are we going to do next! We gotta do something together. She was always excited about the future, according to Waldo.
She recalled many thoughtful gestures and things Singleton would do. She always went out of her way for her friends. She was a darling, caring, loving person and it was a privilege to have know her as well as I did, said Waldo. I considered her one of my very best friends.
Waldo said Singleton kept meaning to write her memoirs, refused to let anyone else do it for her and would not agree to be interviewed.
Singleton was born in 1908 in Philadelphia, the daughter of a newspaperman. She won an amateur contest at an early age and toured in vaudeville by her early teens.
She debuted on Broadway in the late '20s and soon in films, under her real name, Dorothy McNulty. She changed her name to Singleton after marrying dentist Lawrence Singleton in 1937.
She was active in the American Guild of Variety Artists, the union representing touring performers, chorus girls and other entertainers. A union vp in the 1960s, she helped lead a strike by the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.
Singleton is survived by two daughters, two grandchildren and a great-grandson. Services will be held at 11:00 am on Nov. 18 at St. Francis de Sales, 13370 Valley Hart Dr. IN Sherman Oaks, California. For more information call 818-784-0105.