Donald Thomas McNeill created and for 35 years hosted "Don McNeill's Breakfast Club," a morning radio show broadcast throughout the United States and Canada and to American armed forces around the world.
When the Radio Hall of Fame of the Museum of Broadcast Communications staged a tribute to McNeill's program in 1993, a Chicago writer described the "Breakfast Club" as "pure, unabashed corn."
It began with McNeill's cheery "Good morning, Breakfast Clubbers" and featured visits from popular entertainers including singer Patti Page, comedians Groucho Marx and Jerry Lewis and fighter Joe Louis; tall tales about neighbors Ott Ort and the Beerbowers by Aunt Fanny, played by Fran Allison of "Kukla, Fran and Ollie," and the host's own humorous homilies such as: "Courtship makes a man spoon, but marriage makes him fork over."
On a segment called "Memory Time," McNeill read from the 100,000 poems and essays sent in annually by his fans. During World War II, he initiated the inspirational "Prayer Time," and a "Sunshine Shower" segment urged fans to write to shut-ins.
The show was heard over the NBC Blue Network, which later became ABC, and eventually carried by 400 stations, with tickets to the live broadcasts as coveted as tickets to television's "The Tonight Show" later became. McNeill's show was simulcast by television for a time in the 1950s, but he remains an icon of radio.
One of the longest-running network shows in history ended Dec. 27, 1968, with McNeill's well-known signature, "Be good to yourself."