Smyrna woman draws up book on ‘Blondie’ films

Carol Lynn Scherling shows off her book “Blondie Goes to Hollywood” as well as other Blondie memorabilia in her Smyrna home Thursday morning. She will lead a discussion on the film series based on the comic strip during Saturday’s Comic Con at the Dover Public Library starting at noon. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Carol Lynn Scherling shows off her book “Blondie Goes to Hollywood” as well as other Blondie memorabilia in her Smyrna home Thursday morning. She will lead a discussion on the film series based on the comic strip during Saturday’s Comic Con at the Dover Public Library starting at noon. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Carol Lynn Scherling had no idea how many other people were fans of a decades-long film series until she published her first and only book “Blondie Goes to Hollywood” in 2010.

The book, which mainly details the Columbia movies made in the early 1930s and 1940s that were based on the beloved comic strip, is now in its second printing.

Best Bets logo -NEW“I just never realized how popular they were. I thought it was just me and a few others watching along with me. But there really were and still are fans of the series,” said Ms. Scherling, who moved to Smyrna from New Jersey in 2005.

She will discuss her book and the films during one of the many panel discussions Saturday at the Dover Public Library at this weekend’s Comic Con held at the library and elsewhere around the city.

Like the book, her talk, which begins at noon, will detail the films’ history, how they began, the cast of the movies, a radio show which ran at the same time as the movies, two short-lived television shows and the reason for the movies’ and TV shows’ demise.

Her fascination with the movies, starring Penny Singleton as Blondie and Arthur Lake as Blondie’s husband, Dagwood Bumstead, started about 30 years ago.

“I started watching these movies and I became a fan right away,” said Ms. Scherling, who, as a teen, read the comic strip, which started in 1930 and still appears daily in the Delaware State News.

“Channel 11 (in New York) would run them on Saturdays. The first one I ever saw was (1940’s) ‘Blondie Has Servant Trouble’ and I loved them from the start. And I wanted to know more about them and the cast.

A collection of Ms. Scherling's "Blondie" collection.

A collection of Ms. Scherling’s “Blondie” collection.

“At one point, one of the actors, Jonathan Hale, who played Dagwood’s boss Mr. Dithers, left the series and was replaced by another actor and I wondered why that occurred. Once I starting doing the research, I thought this would be a good book.”

Having no writing experience, the book took her on a journey over a 20-year-period. She took a break for four years to get an associate degree in art and business.

“I read a lot of books and love them. I read a lot of biographies and I think that helped writing this one quite a bit,” she said.

A cashier by trade, Ms. Scherling had taped all of the movies on VHS and wrote down all of the actors’ names and names of the crew members and set off to reach as many of them as she could.

“I started before the Internet was really big and spent a lot of time in libraries,” she said.

“I also contacted some research firms, including one in California, and they were very helpful in getting me in touch with some people who worked on the show.

She spoke to directors, crew members, a handler who worked with the movie family’s dog Daisy and even Blondie herself.

“I talked to Penny Singleton who told me a few things but she said she was going to write a book herself so she didn’t want to tell me too much. But she sadly never did. I think it would have made a very good book,” Ms. Scherling said.

Ms. Singleton passed away in 2003 at the age of 95.

The book is loaded with photos from the many incarnations of “Blondie.” Ms. Scherling said she acquired most by visiting nostalgia shows in nearby states.

“There is one in Atlantic City and another one Maryland. In my research I found addresses for stores that carry photos of old film actors and movies. There were two in New York City that I visited myself,” she said.

The introduction to the book was written by actor Will Hutchins, who starred in the second of the two “Blondie” television series. His show ran on CBS from 1968 to 1969 and featured Jim Backus as Mr. Dithers.

"Blondie" dolls sit on a shelf in Ms. Scherling's home. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“Blondie” dolls sit on a shelf in Ms. Scherling’s home. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The first series ran on NBC for 26 episodes in 1957, with Mr. Lake reprising his film and radio role and Pamela Britton as Blondie.

“Will Hutchins was a very nice man and helped me greatly in talking to me about the television show he was in. He mentioned that Bruce Lee was in the final episode but no tapes of that exist,” she said.

With the popularity of the first book, available on Amazon.com or from Ms. Scherling Saturday at Comic Con, she is busy working on a second edition expected to be released next year.

“It’s almost done. It’s in the editing phase now,” she said.

The second one promises more behind-the-scenes stories, including more about Mr. Hale, who left the series in 1945, five years before the movies ended. He killed himself in 1966 at the age of 1974.

“He has a fascinating story that I wanted to tell. I can’t wait for the next book to come out. The more I find out, it seems the more I want to know,” she said.”

Ms. Scherling’s panel discussion at Comic Con will be one of about 18 that will take place at the library, Biggs Museum of American Art on Federal Street and Schwartz Center for the Arts on State Street.

Topics will range from writing books and creating comics to cosplay — dressing up as a character in a book or comic — and the live recording of a podcast centered around AMC’s “The Walking Dead” from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Schwartz.

All are free and more information can be found on activities tonight and Saturday by visiting DelawareStateNews.net.

Peach of a day

If costumes, super heroes and zombies aren’t your bag, the Wyoming Peach Festival is also Saturday.

The festivities kick off at 9 a.m. with the parade starting at Fifer Middle School and continuing along Camden-Wyoming Avenue.

The day will be filled with live music, entertainment, craft and food vendors, children’s activities, peach dessert contest and more. Delaware State News mascot Newshound will be there, too.

For more information, visit  http://wyoming.delaware.gov/peach-festival.

Fifer Orchards’ annual Customer Appreciation Day, normally held on the same day as the Peach Festival, will this year be held the following Saturday due to safety and traffic concerns.

‘Award Winners’ at Biggs

Each year, the Biggs Museum of American Art, in partnership with the Delaware Division of the Arts, exhibits the work of Delaware’s Individual Artist Fellows. The “Award Winners XVI” exhibition, on view starting today and continuing through Oct. 23, recognizes the Fellows’ combined artistic accomplishments.

This year, the division will recognize 16 Delaware artists for the quality of their artwork at the Award Winners XVI Reception and Award Ceremony on Oct. 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. This reception is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

The division offers fellowships in the artistic disciplines of choreography, folk art, jazz, literature, media arts, music and visual arts. Artists’ work samples are reviewed by nationally recognized out-of-state arts professionals, considering both demonstrated creativity and skill in the art form.

The awards — $3,000 for emerging artists, $6,000 for established professionals and $10,000 for masters — allow artists to pursue advanced training, purchase equipment and materials, or fulfill other needs that will help advance their careers.

The highest honor — the Masters Fellow — is reserved for those who meet certain criteria. Only one Masters Fellow can be awarded each year, and the disciplines rotate every three years.

This year’s winner is Ramona DeFelice Long of Newark in Literature: Fiction category.

Established Professional Awards ($6,000) went to:

Siobhan Carroll, Greenville, Literature: Fiction

Lisa Dill, Wilmington, Literature: Creative Nonfiction

Diane Lorio, Dover, Visual Arts: Painting

Ron Meick, Wilmington, Visual Arts: Works on Paper

Joshua Meier, Middletown, Visual Arts: Photography

Abby Millager, Newark, Literature: Playwriting

Kiandra Parks, Wilmington, Media Arts: Video/Film

Maggie Rowe, Newark, Literature: Poetry

Phillip Scarpone, Wilmington, Visual Arts: Sculpture

Bruce Tychinski, Newark, Music: Solo Recital

Emerging Professional Awards ($3,000) went to:

J. Barbagallo, Claymont, Literature: Fiction

Linda Celestian, Wilmington, Visual Arts: Painting

Sherry Gage Chappelle, Rehoboth Beach, Literature: Poetry

Victor Letonoff, Lewes, Literature: Creative Nonfiction

Žaneta Zubkova, Wilmington, Visual Arts: Works on Paper

Rebuilding Warriors benefit

A music benefit for the Rebuilding Warriors organization will be held Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m. at Cowboy Up on Lafferty Lane in Dover.

Entertainment will be provided by Sam Grow, Hung Jury, Fast Lane and A Different Breed.

The day will include a live, silent and Chinese auction, raffles and more.

Advance tickets are $20 or $25 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at cowboyupde.com or by calling 264-9322.

Rebuilding Warriors provides service/companion dogs to veterans diagnosed as amputees as well as those with PTSD.

Now showing

New in theaters is “Suicide Squad 3D” based on the DC comics series, and the family film “Nine Lives.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Tom Hanks in “A Hologram for the King.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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