Kenneth Howard Delmar (born Kenneth Frederick Fay Howard, September 5, 1910, Boston, Massachusetts – July 14, 1984, Stamford, Connecticut) was an American actor active 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 the running "Allen's Alley" sketch on The Fred Allen Show. The character Delmar created was a primary inspiration for the Warner Bros. cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn.
Early life and career
Delmar 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 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, although he also is noted for his address to the "citizens of the nation" as the Secretary of the Interior, in which role he spoke in a stentorian, declamatory style deliberately reminiscent of then-President Franklin Roosevelt. Cavalcade of America featured him in their repertory cast, and 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.:61 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." Delmar was later heard by a later generation of television watchers via the animated character called The Hunter which he voiced using his Senator Claghorn inflections, including, "That's a joke, son." "The Hunter" was a dog detective whose nemesis was The Fox, a criminal fox who attempted bizarre capers, usually huge in scope (such as attempting to steal the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty or, in one episode, the State of Florida). The Hunter ran as an ancillary segment of the cartoon series King Leonardo and his Short Subjects, produced by .
At the height of his popularity, Delmar also starred as Claghorn in a theatrical feature film, It's a Joke, Son! in 1947.
Delmar was also announcer and voice performer on The Alan Young Show in 1944. One of the characters that he played was Counselor Cartonbranch who is obviously similar in mannerisms and voice to Senator Claghorn. In 1953 he returned to radio replacing Hans Conried's character on My Friend Irma, as the Professor's cousin, Maestro Wanderkin  and as Conried's Schultz on Life with Luigi.
Delmar was also a well-utilized cartoon voice talent whose voice was familiar to baby-boomers as Commander McBragg, The Hunter, Major Minor on "Klondike Kat", and other Saturday morning cartoon icons.
- "Milestones", Time, May 17, 1948
- Berger, Joseph (July 15, 1984). "Kenny Delmar, radio's Senator Claghorn, dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
Kenny Delmar, the actor who played the blustery Southern Senator Beauregard Claghorn on the old Fred Allen radio show, died yesterday in St. Joseph's Hospital in Stamford, Conn. He was 73 and lived in Stamford. ...
- Parsons, Louella O., "In Hollywood with Louella O. Parsons", The Milwaukee Sentinel, September 14, 1946
- Cook, Gene, "Senator Claghorn: Kenny Delmar becomes a sudden radio sensation as bumptious unreconstructed Southerner". Life, March 18, 1946, pp. 61–68
- Kelly, Ray, Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Orson Welles's panic radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. Wellesnet, October 26, 2008; retrieved April 10, 2012. Delmar's other roles were Policeman at farm, Secretary of the Interior and Bayonne radio announcer.
- Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3.
- Fred Allen at the Museum of Broadcast Communications; retrieved April 8, 2012
- for sample shows
- Wolters, Larry (1953-03-02). "Television News and Views". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
- "Delmar to return to radio". Billboard. 1953-03-07. Retrieved 2015-03-26.