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Mildred Funnell Papers


Mildred Funnell Papers
Funnell, Mildred
Collection number:
LAB 2005-105
10.00 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
1932-1973 and undated
Collection Area:
Mass Media and Culture
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Mildred Funnell (1901-1977) was a Cleveland-based broadcaster of radio and TV, best known for her female-friendly programs like radio's "Mildred and Gloria" (co-hosted with Gloria Brown) and local TV's "The Idea Shop" (also with Brown). The collection, which spans the years 1932 to 1955, documents Ms. Funnell's career as both an actress and Ohio radio and TV personality.

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This collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Mildred Funnell Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Historical Note

Mildred Funnell (1901-1977) was an American broadcaster, on both radio and television, for over 25 years, most of which she spent at WTAM-Cleveland (now KYW). Of her longevity there, she once boasted she had "survived 7 managers, [and] three ownerships."

Born in 1901 in Honeyoye Falls, NY to a pastor father and housewife mother, Funnell would live in both Michigan and New York before her family finally settled in Norwalk, Ohio when she was nine years-old. After graduation from Norwalk High School, Funnell attended Syracuse University majoring in speech. After that, Funnell attended the Schuster Martin School of Drama in Cincinnati, the alma mater of such actors as Tyrone Power and Virginia Payne.

In 1928, Funnell co-founded the Harlequins Little Theatre Group in Sandusky, Ohio and took leading roles in the plays "Mr. Pim Passes By," "You and I," "Dover Road," and "Smilin' Through."

Two years later, Funnell would begin her broadcasting career by going to work as a temporary secretary for WTAM station manager John F. Royal. Quickly however, she found herself on the air as one of the WTAM Players, presenting daily dramatic programs and midnight mystery thrillers. Her most famous radio role however began in 1933, playing Evalena, Lum's girlfriend on "Lum & Abner."

Later, in 1940, while still active with the station's dramatic players, Funnell joined WTAM's all-female "Women's Club" program. Five years later, the station named Funnell their Director of Women's Activities and, that same year, Funnell began hosting a daily radio program with another station employee, Gloria Brown, titled, rightfully enough, "Mildred and Gloria."

Funnell and Brown would be an on-air team for 11 years, broadcasting daily over the WTAM airwaves and, for a time, on television. Their radio show endured until the mid-1950s. The TV version of "Mildred and Gloria," called "The Idea Shop," ran for five years.

In both mediums, Mildred's and Gloria's shows consisted of a lively mix of interviews, helpful hints and, sometimes, even disagreements. Said Funnell once, "We disagree frequently, as will sisters, mothers, daughters, husbands and wives. But, by pre-arrangement, we discuss out loud and settle our differences as they come up."

In 1955, after 26 years, Funnell left WTAM. In 1957, she joined Cleveland's WJW radio station as their Director of Community Club Awards. Later, she returned to the airwaves herself, this time in a program titled "Take Five." "Five" was a series of five-minute interviews played every half-hour, every Saturday.

Ms. Funnell married Clyde Grey Goodman in 1936. He proceeded her in death. She died in 1977.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Mildred Funnell Papers spans the years 1932 to 1955, with the bulk of the material from the 1950s. This collection, which documents Ms. Funnell's career as both an actress and Ohio radio and TV personality, contains correspondence, clippings, photographs, newsletters, press releases, scripts, scrapbooks, program schedules and other printed material.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Mildred Funnell Papers was donated to the Broadcast Pioneers Library by Mrs. L.F. Ohliger, sister of the late Ms. Funnell, in March of 1978.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Cary O'Dell, April 2004. Revised by Melanie Brown, May 2005.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Cary O'Dell, April 2005. Markup checked and verified by Karen E. King, July 2005.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Biographical Material, undated (1 folder)

This series contains a small assortment of biographies about Ms. Funnell. Some are handwritten, some typed. Additionally some are from the WTAM/KYW press office, while others were generated by Ms. Funnell herself.

Also contains a few of Ms. Funnell's station business cards, and one business card (under the name Mildred F. Goodman) for Express Travel Service. A small lapel pin that reads "WTAM" is attached to the card.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Biographical material, undated series 1box 1folder 1

Series 2: Correspondence, 1932-1973 and undated (2 folders)

Letters, notes, and telegrams (30 in total) sent to Ms. Funnell. Some of the authors, or place of origin, of the letters include: Critchfield & Company Advertising; NBC; the Cleveland Health Museum; WOWO; Fred Rosen Association; Jacques Kahn; the Cleveland Public Library; and the Cleveland Municipal Court, among others.

Also contains three small notes from Ms. Funnell to Reader's Digest, submitting anecdotes for possible publication.

All items are arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence, 1932-1973 series 2box 1folder 2
Correspondence, undated series 2box 1folder 3

Series 3: Clippings, 1932-1959 and undated (2 folders)

Assorted newspaper clippings (approximately 73 total) documenting Ms. Funnell's career on the air, including her role on the "Lum and Abner" radio show and her subsequent radio and TV programs. Where possible these have been arranged by date.

Though most of the clippings in this series pertain to Ms. Funnell and her TV and radio career, this series also contains newspaper and magazine mentions of others affiliated with the stations. Some of the clips feature the following: Tom Manning, Joe Mulvihill, John Hicks, Jim Chapman, Gloria Brown, Karl Bates, and Dick Roll. (See also oversize storage.) Also, where possible, these items have been arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Clippings, 1932-1973 series 3box 1folder 4
Clippings, undated series 3box 1folder 5

Series 4: Photographs, 1933-1953 and undated (11 folders)

Collection of 111 photographs featuring Ms. Funnell alone or with others, on or off the air, as well as photographs of other individuals. Some photos are in oversize storage. This series is divided into 5 subseries.

Subseries 4.1: Funnell, undated (4 folders)

This subseries contains on- and off-camera portraits and photos of Ms. Funnell alone, as well as photos with her broadcasting partner Gloria Brown.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photos -- Funnell -- Alone/portraits, undatedseries 4.1box 1folder 6
Photos -- Funnell -- Alone/portraits, undatedseries 4.1box 1folder 7
Photos -- Funnell -- Pictured w/ Gloria Brown, undatedseries 4.1box 1folder 8
Photos -- Funnell -- Off-camera, undatedseries 4.1box 1folder 9

Subseries 4.2: Radio Programs, 1933; 1945-1956 (3 folders)

This subseries includes eighteen photos from actual broadcasts of "Mildred & Gloria"/"Idea Shop" featuring Funnell and Brown. Other people appearing in some of the photographs are: Doctor B.M.G. Zwieker (chemist); Mrs. Nellie Crawford; and actress Joan Crawford. This subseries also includes two full-costume cast photos from "Lum and Abner" (1933).

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photos -- Radio-TV Programs -- "Mildred and Gloria"/"Idea Shop ", circa 1940s-1955series 4.2box 1folder 12
Photos -- Radio-TV Programs -- "Mildred and Gloria"/"Idea Shop", circa 1940s-1955series 4.2box 1folder 13
Photos -- Radio-TV Programs -- "Lum and Abner", circa 1933series 4.2box 1folder 14

Subseries 4.3: AWRT Trip, 1953 (1 folder)

Photos documenting Ms. Funnel's 1953 trip to Cuba as a member of an AWRT contingent.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photos -- AWRT -- Trip to Cuba, 1953series 4.3box 1folder 15

Subseries 4.4: Theatre, 1942 and undated (1 folder)

Odd assorted of nine snapshots, most not featuring Ms. Funnell, from various stage productions or talent revues. Most seem to date from the 1930s and 1940s.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photos -- Theatre, 1942series 4.4box 1folder 16

Subseries 4.5: Others (Funnell not pictured), undated (2 folders)

Assortment of 23 photos, both portraits and casual. Series includes pictures of actor Elton Hayes (autographed), actress Joan Crawford (autographed), actress Vaughn DeLeath (autographed), fellow Cleveland broadcasters Tom Field, Big Wilson, Lawson Deming, Gene Carroll and Glenn Rowell ("Gene and Glenn"), as well as Hazel Manning, Betty Pribble, Mrs. Louise Pribble, and Ken Brenner. Photos also feature many unidentified individuals.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photos -- Other People (Funnell not pictured), undatedseries 4.5box 1folder 10
Photos -- Others (Funnell not pictured), undatedseries 4.5box 1folder 11

Series 5: Scripts, 1940-1958 and undated (1 folder)

Five full radio and TV scripts for the following programs/skits: "Lee Gordon Presents" (a tribute to Walter Logan) (radio, 1940); "Lum and Abner's Sociable: The Wedding" (radio, undated); "Social Secretary" (radio, 1944); "Madame Voter" (TV, 1958); "Social Security" (TV, 1958); and "This is Russia" (radio, undated).

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Scripts, 1940-1958; undated series 5box 2folder 1

Series 6: Station Histories, 1952; 1955 (1 folder)

This series includes two typed narratives recounting the founding of, and important dates and events in the history of WTAM, These narratives are titled: "NBC in Cleveland" (1952) and "History of WTAM, WTAM-FM and WNBK" (1955).

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Station(s) history, 1952; 1955 series 6box 2folder 2

Series 7: Radio-TV Programs, circa 1948; 1959 (2 folders)

This series contains materials related to Mildred Funnell's and Gloria Brown's radio program "Women's Club of the Air" (WTAM), including what might be a program proposal for the program. This series also highlights Ms. Funnell's radio program "Take Five" (WJW-Radio), with a memo by Funnell, sent to Paul Mills (station manager?) about his unceremonious cancellation of the "Take Five" program. Items are arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Radio-TV Programs -- "Women's Club of the Air", circa 1948 series 7box 2folder 3
Radio-TV Programs -- "Take Five", circa 1959 series 7box 2folder 4

Series 8: Booklets, Publications, and Other Printed Materials, 1937-1957 (5 folders)

This series contains an assortment of booklets and other printed materials from various entities. This series has five subseries.

Subseries 8.1: "The Idea Shop", 1953-1954 (1 folder)

Two items: booklets containing various household hints sent out to the audience - one for Summer 1953, and another for 1954.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Publications -- "The Idea Shop", 1953-1954series 8.1box 2folder 5

Subseries 8.2: News Releases, 1955-1956; undated (1 folder)

Five press releases related to: the stations's change of ownership; Gloria Brown's hiring as the station's first female announcer; Ms. Funnell's 1956 retirement; and the debut of Joe Mulvihill's "1100 Club" program. Arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Publications -- News releases, 1955-1956; undatedseries 8.2box 2folder 6

Subseries 8.3: "NBC Transmitter", 1937 (1 folder)

Four issues of the network's internal magazine/newsletter: January, February, June and August 1937. (Arranged by date.)

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Publications -- "NBC Transmitter", 1937series 8.3box 2folder 7

Subseries 8.4: WTAM program schedules, 1945-1948 (1 folder)

Seven postcard schedules which, along with programming information, contain on their reverse sides interesting photos, short bios, and program descriptions. Some of the people pictured on them are: Lee Gordon, Wayne Byers, Edward Wallace, and singing duo Salt and Peanuts (7 issues, 1945-1948).

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Publications -- WTAM program schedules, 1945-1948series 8.4box 2folder 8

Subseries 8.5: Other, 1936-1960 (1 folder)

Thirteen items. Contains: a copy of "The Pine Ridge News" (from "Lum & Abner"), 1936 (in oversize storage); "The Beam," the newsletter of the Association of Women Broadcasters, January 1947; printed program from The Ohio State University regarding a series of "Vocational Information Conferences for Women Students, 1947; "The Quaker," published by the Quaker Oats Company, May 1949; "Weathervane," published by the Women's Advertising Club of Cleveland, May 1949; "News and Views" printed by the Cleveland Public Library, June, 1952; "Off-Camera," published by "TV Guide," April 18, 1955; "Detroit Skyliner," August, 1955; "Weathervane," October, 1957; WJW newsletters, February 1959 through April 1959; "Buyer's Guide," Fall-Winter, 1958-1959; the newsletter of the Cleveland Health Museum, "Building for Better Health," January 1960; and "Off-Camera," a service of "TV Guide," November 1960.

Ordered by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Publications -- Other, 1936-1960series 8.5box 2folder 9

Series 9: American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT), 1953-1955 (1 folder)

This series includes, among other AWRT-related items, correspondence, clippings, etc., related to Ms. Funnell's and other members' of AWRT "Post-Convention Trip" to Cuba in May of 1953. Twelve items total, arranged by type and then by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
AWRT, 1953-1955 series 9box 2folder 10

Series 10: Howard Inches, 1951-1952 (1 folder)

Various correspondence, photos, promo materials (including a copy of Inches' copyrighted diet) from healthcare guru Howard Inches, a frequent visitor to "Mildred and Gloria."

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Howard Inches, 1951-1952 series 10box 2folder 11

Series 11: Miscellaneous, 1952, 1956, 1976; undated (3 folders)

This series contains various items saved by Ms. Funnell over the years. Included are: two greeting cards made and sent by John F. Royal; an original (?) poem to Mildred from Jack Starr; a copy of an article by Deems Taylor titled "Showing Why Music Critics Must Be Careful"; Ms. Funnell's 1952 membership card in the "Ninety-Below Zero Club"; promo card/invitation for a KYW-sponsored cruise; two handwritten notes presumably by Ms. Funnell; two newspaper clippings and two handwritten notes bound together under the title "Hobby Show Notes," a 1956 AFTRA directory for the Cleveland area; an obit for Hal Metzger written by W.D. Parry (1976); paper certificate awarded to Ms. Funnell to mark her ten years with NBC broadcasting, and Xeroxes of architectural floorplans for a 3-story house at 3030 Keswick Road in Shaker Heights. All items, as much as possible, are ordered by date.

Also contains an undated, multi-page program proposal written by Ms. Funnell for a potentional TV program titled "Bride-to-Be."

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Miscellaneous -- Ten-year certificate, circa 1943 series 11box 2folder 12
Miscellaneous, 1952; 1956; 1976 series 11box 2folder 13
Miscellaneous, 1952; 1956; 1976 series 11box 2folder 14

Series 12: Scrapbooks, 1952-1956 and undated (4 items)

This series contains four scrapbooks prepared by Ms. Funnell: 1.) "Mildred and Gloria": Sponsor- and syndicator-friendly presentation book, containing photos, clippings, letters of endorsement and program worksheets; 2.) "The Idea Shop": This scrapbook contains newspaper articles about the show, letters from grateful local agencies which have been helped via the program, fan mail, and a list of the program's sponsors; 3.) Untitled: Embossed in gold with the name Mildred Funnell. Contents of this scrapbook (correspondence, clippings, photos, etc.) were removed for reasons of preservation and filed in appropriate series; 4.) Untitled: Self-promotional album of clippings, photos, and complimentary letters about Ms. Funnell and her program(s).

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Scrapbook -- "Mildred and Gloria", circa 1955 series 12box 3folder 1
Scrapbook -- "The Idea Shop", circa 1952 series 12box 3folder 2
Scrapbook -- Scrapbook #3, circa 1956 series 12box 4folder 1
Scrapbook -- Scrapbook #4, circa 1956 series 12box 4folder 2
Clippings, photos, booklets (oversize), undated series 12box 5folder 1

Related Material

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