Its author, Clellan Card, was born in Minneapolis on June 24, 1903, the
son of Dr. William H. Card, a local dentist. He attended Douglas School,
Blake, West High, and finally Rutgers College in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
In 1928, while working a variety of jobs ranging from gas station
attendant to bond salesman, he married Marion Satterlee of Minneapolis.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, the newlyweds were forced to move
in with the elder Cards. But in 1930, their luck changed. Clellan walked
into the WCCO Radio studios with his father one day and was soon doing
a bit part as Izaak Walton in a fishing tackle commercial. His first talent
check was $4.50 .
Six years later, Northrup King became his first sponsor for the early morning
"Almanac of the Air" radio program. It was here that most of his
routines, including the "Birdie with the Yellow Bill," were born. As the
"Working Girl's Friend" and "the region's chief coffee drinker and
donut dunker," his popularity soared. He used sound effects, snorts,
whistles, and a mangled Swedish accent. He was the hottest radio personality
in the Twin Cities.
Clellan Card (1954 photo)
In September of 1952, Card's oldest son, Peter, was killed when his Air
Force training plane crashed and burned at San Angelo, Texas. Four months
later, his second son, John, was killed as a passenger in a car accident
at 46th Street and Dupont Avenue South, just a few blocks from Card's
home. A devoted family man, he concentrated on children's television
shows for most of the rest of his career.
Axel and His Dog premiered Thursday, August 5th, 1954. For the next 12
years, Axel Torgeson entertained children of all ages with renditions of
"On Sisconsin" and stories of his alma mater, "Old Embraceable U." Don
Stolz (Old Log Theater) played Towser the Dog and Tallulah the Cat, often
upstaging Card with answers to the riddles, zingers, and knock-knock jokes
sent in by the viewers.
In 1954, Mary Davies, a talented dancer, singer and long-time co-star from
earlier shows hosted by Card, joined the program as Carmen the Nurse.
On April 14, 1966, she provided viewers with one of the saddest moments
in the history of Twin cities television: Card had died of cancer the day before, only
eight days after entering Abbott Hospital. His last address was 3 MacLynn
Road, Excelsior, Minnesota.
In May of 1966, WCCO-TV set up a Clellan Card Memorial Fund. Two months
later, $5,600 was donated to the University of Minnesota Pediatrics Hospital.
About half the money apparently came from children, in a trickle
of small change.