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Finding Aid for the Al Pearce papers, 1938-1946
320  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Al Pearce papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1938-1946
    Collection number: 320
    Creator: Pearce, Al, 1898-1961
    Extent: 8 boxes (4.0 linear ft.) 7 album boxes (3 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Comedian Al Pearce became an established name in radio and was best known for playing Elmer Blurt, a self-conscious door-to-door salesman. The collection consists of script files, sound recordings, and photographs related to Pearce's radio career as well as a small amount of memorabilia.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Performing Arts Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Audio materials in this collection are restricted and require advance notice for use.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Al Pearce papers (Collection 320). Performing Arts Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Biography

    Albert Walter Pearce was born July 25, 1898 in San Jose, CA. Pearce worked as a door-to-door insurance salesman for a time, but eventually went into the real estate business in San Francisco, CA with his brother Cal Pearce. In the late 1920s, Pearce got a position as a singer at a local radio station, KFRC. At KFRC, he was introduced to Jack Hasty who asked Pearce to play the lead role in a skit he had written, as Elmer Blurp (later changed to Elmer Blurt). Elmer Blurp was a character that Pearce easily identified with: a self-conscious salesman. In 1929, KFRC featured Pearce in T he Happy-Go-Lucky Hour, which ran for four years. Pearce was joined on air by his brother Cal Pearce, Abe Bloom, Charles Carter, Jean Clarimoux, Edna Fischer, Tommy Harris, Norman Nielsen, Monroe Upton, Hazel Warner, and Cecil Wright.
    The radio program changed names and stations in 1933, becoming Al Pearce and His Gang and broadcasted on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Blue Network. The comedy-variety program was broadcasted from 1933 through 1946 on Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and NBC. The show had many prominent sponsors including: Pepsodent, Ford Motors, Grape Nuts, Dole Pineapple, and Camel Cigarettes. During the show's tenure, Pearce's gang included Arlene Harris, Bill Comstock, Jennison Parker, Bill Wright, Monroe Upton, Artie Auerbach, Kitty O'Neil, and Harry Stewart. Al Pearce and His Gang is most memorable for the skits of Elmer Blurt selling insurance door-to-door with his distinct knock followed by the famous tagline, "Nobody home, I hope-I hope-I hope." In 1943 the Elmer skit was turned into a feature length film titled Here Comes Elmer, starring Pearce as Elmer Blurt.
    Pearce had another radio show, Fun Valley, which was broadcasted for one season on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) Blue Network from 1943 through 1944. The program was a comedic variety show that included short skits and musical numbers. Pearce was joined on the show by regulars Arlene Harris, Wendell Niles, and Ivan Ditmars.
    In addition to his radio projects, Pearce made several film and television appearances including the motion pictures Here Comes Elmer (1943), Hitchhike to Happiness (1945), One Exciting Week (1946), and The Main Street Kid (1948). His public career seemed to disappear during the 1950s. Pearce died on June 2, 1961 in Newport Beach, California due to heart disease (confirmed by a copy of his Certificate of Death found in the collection).

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of materials related to the career of radio and television comedian Al Pearce. Includes script files, transcription disks, photographs that appear mostly related to radio programs in which Pearce was involved; and a small amount of memorabilia. The script files include drafts of completed and revised scripts and script pages for multiple radio shows, among them The Al Pearce Show, Al Pearce and His Gang, The Al Pearce Show for Camel Cigarettes, Fun Valley, Here Comes Elmer, The Life of Elmer Blurt, and Backstage in Broadcasting. The transcription disks include twelve and sixteen inch platters of selected Pearce radio shows; the bulk of the recordings are of The Al Pearce Show and Here Comes Elmer. The photographs are headshots of Pearce and promotional shots related to Pearce's career. Additionally, there is a small amount of personal memorabilia and an Al Pearce and His Happy Prune Pickers recipe booklet.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Memorabilia, 1930s-1960s.
    2. Photographs, 1930s-1940s.
    3. Scripts, 1938-1946.
    4. Transcription disks, 1939-1945.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Pearce, Al, 1898-1961 -- Archives.
    Radio actors and actresses -- California -- Archival resources.
    Comedians -- United States -- Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    radio scripts
    sound recordings