Monday, October 19, 2020

Anaheim's Lil' Abner love fest 1959

 Anaheim Public Library’s Heritage Center holds treasures that reflect our hometown’s culture and community.  Admirably curated and heroically guarded by our hero Jane Newell and her dedicated fellow historians, untold hours may be spent savoring books, microfiche, maps, photos and physical artifacts.  The Hertiage Center itself is a wonder…oft times leading to pathways you never knew you needed to follow.

As so it was when a review of the 1959 Fall Festival files lead to a preponderance of Lil’ Abner costumed images.  The comic strip created by Al Capp had debuted in August 1934.  Of course it was popular, but we couldn’t figure out why the Denizens of Dogpatch proved to be so inspiring that multiple groups would choose to represent them at the 1959 festival…

Until we searched a little further and found a musical version of Lil’ Abner had debuted on Broadway in 1956 and December of 1959 would see the premiere of a grand Lil’ Abner movie musical based on the Broadway show.

1959 Movie Musical

We’ve always known Anaheim has deep roots in the art and entertainment communities, so we shouldn’t have been surprised Broadway and Hollywood would reflect in neighbors’ costuming.  We’ll let you decide for yourself just how successful these contestants were in realizing their costume goals.

As always, many thanks to Jane and crew for providing the tools to follow this particular rabbit hole.

Costume Contest, Anaheim Hallowe’en Festival, 1959
Lil’ Abner and Daisy Mae”

Here is a close up (maybe too close).  Marietta Crone as Lil’ Abner and Fred Boroff as Daisy Mae atop the costume contest flatbed stage, Center Street, Downtown Anaheim 1959.

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