Arthur Lake portrayed Dagwood Bumstead in more than two dozen "Blondie" films between 1939 and 1950.
Lake became famous throughout the world as the bumbling, dumb husband of Blondie, as played by Penny Singleton in the successful string of Columbia Pictures films based on the Chic Young comic strip characters.
The studio was struggling financially when it cast Lake and Singleton in the first "Blondie" film it made for a mere $85,000. The picture grossed $9 million and led to the string of sequels that included "Blondie Meets the Boss," "Blondie Brings Up Baby" and all the other features of interest to no one but the movie-going public.
More than 30 years after the series ended, Dagwood was still getting fan mail from around the world. Lake enjoyed being identified with the character and continued to appear at benefits where he invariably would be given a mountainous Dagwood sandwich.
Lake and Singleton also played the parts for the first seven years that "Blondie" ran on the radio.
In the 1950s and the 1960s, there were attempts to bring "Blondie" to television—the first time in a series starring Lake and Pamela Britton, and the second time with two other actors in the roles. Neither effort was successful.
His mother brought the children to Hollywood when Lake was 12 years old. As a child actor, he made his debut in "Jack and the Beanstalk" in 1917. He performed in westerns and by 1925 got a good part in "Skinner's Dress Suit."
Universal featured him in its "Sweet Sixteen" comedies. In 1928, National Pictures borrowed him to play the comic strip character Harold Teen.
Later, he signed with RKO, where he made "Dance Hall" in 1929 and "Cheer Up and Smile" in 1930.
Other pictures included "Indiscreet" (1931) with Gloria Swanson; "Silver Streak" (1934); "Orchids to You" (1935) and "Topper" (1937).
But when he heard that Columbia was looking for someone to play Dagwood Bumstead, Lake was determined to get the part. He had become friendly with the sons of publisher William Randolph Hearst, whose newspapers ran the "Blondie" strip.
"I had a couple of people rooting for me named Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst," Lake recalled later. He got the part.