Anne Hummert

Last updated
This survey of the life and careers of the Hummerts was published in 2003. Hummert.jpg
This survey of the life and careers of the Hummerts was published in 2003.

Anne Hummert (née Schumacher) (January 19, 1905 – July 5, 1996) was the leading creator of daytime radio serials or soap opera dramas during the 1930s and 1940s, responsible for more than three dozen series. [1] [2]



She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, one of four children. Little is known about her parents or her childhood: some sources say her father Frederick was a police lieutenant; [3] census documents say he was a steamfitter and contractor, and still other sources say he was an engineer. [4] After attending Towson High School, [5] she attended Goucher College, where she majored in History, [6] graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude in 1925. [7] While at Goucher she also worked as a college correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. [8] She then took a job with the Paris precursor of the International Herald Tribune . It was in France that she married reporter John Ashenhurst, a former member of the Baltimore Sun's editorial staff, in July 1926. [9] The couple had one son, but the marriage was troubled. They moved back to the United States, and ultimately got divorced. [10] Anne Ashenhurst moved to Chicago, where she sought work as a journalist, but was unable to find a job. [11] She was told of an opening at an advertising agency, and in 1930, she was hired as a copywriter and assistant to advertising executive E. Frank Hummert . [12] At the Blackett-Sample-Hummert agency, she rose in the ranks and became a full partner in 1933, earning $100,000 a year. Radio historian Jim Cox noted that when the two teamed to create daytime radio serials, they...

...intended to seize the housewives’ attention and alter the pattern of their daily existence... Radio as Americans experienced it during its golden age likely would have been vastly different had Frank and Anne Hummert not been on the scene to influence it so pervasively.

After their first major success, Just Plain Bill , they followed with Ma Perkins , Skippy , Backstage Wife and Young Widder Brown . Their professional collaboration led to a personal relationship that neither had expected: Frank Hummert was a widower, after the death of his wife, Adeline, and he was twenty years older than his assistant. As for Anne, she was still getting over her divorce from her husband John and was not expecting to remarry. Frank and Anne got married in 1935, and friends would later describe their marriage as "one of the great love matches." [13] Following their marriage, Frank and Anne Hummert moved to New York where they launched their company, Air Features, a radio production house. The Hummerts produced many radio drama series, including Amanda of Honeymoon Hill , Front Page Farrell , John's Other Wife , Little Orphan Annie , Judy and Jane , Mr. Chameleon, Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons and Our Gal Sunday . They soon had as many as 18 separate 15-minute serials airing for a total of 90 episodes a week. They also produced The American Album of Familiar Music .

From their estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, Anne Hummert delivered a large weekly word count, outlining all of the plot twists for all of her programs. The Hummerts farmed out the writing to scripters, known as "dialoguers," who embellished her synopses into complete scripts for Stella Dallas , Young Widder Brown and other soap operas.

Actress Mary Jane Higby observed, “Unquestionably, they had a profound influence on the whole literature of soap opera. They, more than anyone else, determined the shape it took.” According to Jim Cox, by the 1940s, the Hummerts controlled four-and-a-half hours of the national weekday broadcast schedule. Their programs brought in more than five million letters a year. By 1939, the Hummert's programs were responsible for more than half the advertising revenues generated by daytime radio. They also did primetime musical shows, such as Waltz Time.

The Hummerts each had an annual income of $100,000. Frank Hummert died at 76 in 1966. Anne Hummert was a multimillionaire when she died July 5, 1996, in her Fifth Avenue apartment at the age of 91.

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Ma Perkins</i> soap opera

Ma Perkins is an American radio soap opera which was heard on NBC from 1933 to 1949 and on CBS from 1942 to 1960. Between 1942 and 1949, the show was heard simultaneously on both networks. During part of its run on NBC, that network's coverage was augmented by use of transcriptions. Beginning April 1, 1935, nine stations broadcast the transcriptions. Oxydol dropped its sponsorship in 1956. The program continued with various sponsors until 1960.

<i>Painted Dreams</i>

Painted Dreams is an American radio soap opera that was the first daytime radio soap opera program in the United States. It was broadcast from Chicago. It premiered October 20, 1930 and last aired in July 1943.

Jim Cox, a retired college professor living in Louisville, Kentucky, is a leading historian on the subject of radio programming in the 20th century. He has written extensively on the [[[Old-time radio|history of radio]] from the 1920s to the present.

Just Plain Bill was a 1932-1955 15-minute American radio drama program heard on CBS Radio and NBC Radio. It was "a story of people just like people we all know.”

Amanda of Honeymoon Hill is a 15-minute daily radio soap opera produced by Frank and Anne Hummert. Broadway actress Joy Hathaway had the title role, sometimes described as "the beauty of flaming red hair." The series was broadcast from February 5, 1940, until April 26, 1946, initially on the Blue Network at 3:15 p.m. until August 1942. It then moved to CBS, airing at 10:30 a.m. until 1943 when it was heard at 11 a.m.

<i>Young Widder Brown</i> Radio Drama Series

Young Widder Brown was a daytime radio drama series broadcast on NBC from 1938 to 1956. Sponsored by Sterling Drugs and Bayer Aspirin, it daily examined the life of "attractive Ellen Brown, with two fatherless children to support."

<i>Our Gal Sunday</i>

Our Gal Sunday is an American soap opera produced by Frank and Anne Hummert, network broadcast via CBS from March 29, 1937, to January 2, 1959, starring Dorothy Lowell and, after Lowell's 1944 death, Vivian Smolen in the title role.

Hill Blackett was a radio daytime-advertising pioneer who played a major part in the development of the soap opera.

Kitty Foyle is an American old-time radio and television soap opera originally aired during the 1940s and 1950s that was based on the successful 1940 film of the same name starring Ginger Rogers. Kitty Foyle was created by soap opera mogul Irna Phillips of Guiding Light fame and produced by daytime radio monarchs Frank and Anne Hummert of Helen Trent recognition. The program originally starred Julie Stevens in the title role of Kitty Foyle on radio. On television, the title role was portrayed by Kathleen Murray.

Edward Frank Hummert, Jr., professionally known as Frank Hummert and sometimes credited as E. Frank Hummert, was an American advertising agent originally but was best known for writing/producing episodes of nearly 100 daytime/primetime radio dramas and soap opera serials between the 1930s and the 1950s.

The American Melody Hour was an American old-time radio program. The American Melody Hour was designed as a musical variety show. The program showcased a half-hour playing and singing "the tunes of yesterday and tomorrow..." mostly sung by baritone Bob Hannon.

Florence Freeman (actress) American actress

Florence Freeman was an actress in old-time radio. She was known as a "soap opera queen" for her work in daytime serial dramas.

<i>Alias Jimmy Valentine</i> (radio program)

Alias Jimmy Valentine is an old-time radio crime drama in the United States. It was broadcast on NBC-Blue January 18, 1938 - February 27, 1939.

The Carters of Elm Street is an American old-time radio soap opera. It was broadcast on NBC from February 13, 1939 to January 19, 1940 and on Mutual from January 22, 1940 to July 19, 1940.

<i>David Harum</i> (radio program) radio program

David Harum is an American old-time radio soap opera. It was broadcast on CBS, Mutual, and NBC. It ran from January 27, 1936, to January 5, 1951.

Doc Barclay's Daughters is an American old-time radio soap opera. It was broadcast on CBS from January 23, 1939, to January 19, 1940.

<i>Front Page Farrell</i>

Front Page Farrell is an American old-time radio program that was broadcast on Mutual from June 23, 1941 to March 13, 1942, and on NBC from September 14, 1942, to March 26, 1954. The episodes broadcast on Mutual originated at WOR, making the program the first live serial that Mutual broadcast from New York City.

Helpmate is an American old-time radio soap opera. It was broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1941, until June 30, 1944.

Martha Atwell was an American radio director, known for her association with Frank and Anne Hummert.


  1. Jr., Robert Mcg. Thomas. "Anne Hummert, 91, Dies; Creator of Soap Operas" . Retrieved 2018-09-08.
  2. 1939-, Cox, Jim (2003). Frank and Anne Hummert's radio factory : the programs and personalities of broadcasting's most prolific producers. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland Co. Publishers. ISBN   0786416319. OCLC   52121399.
  3. Jim Cox, Frank and Anne Hummert's Radio Factory, McFarland, 2003, pp. 17-18
  4. "We Pay Our Respects." Broadcasting Magazine, April 1, 1935, p. 31.
  5. "How 3 Cent A Line Writer Turned Into $75,000 A year Recluse." Baltimore Sun, March 31, 1940, p. 14.
  6. Isabella Taves. Successful Women. New York: P. Dutton & Co., 1943, p. 96.
  7. Robert McG. Thomas Jr. "Anne Hummert, 91, Dies; Creator of Soap Operas." New York Times, July 21, 1996, p. 27.
  8. "We Pay Our Respects." Broadcasting Magazine, April 1, 1935, p. 31.
  9. "Ashenhurst--Schumacher." Baltimore Sun, August 14, 1926, p. 5.
  10. "Mother Kidnaps Own Son From Keith School." Rockford (IL) Morning Star, September 14, 1933, p. 1.
  11. Ruth MacKay. "White Collar Girl." Chicago Tribune, August 10, 1949, p. A3.
  12. "Hummerts' Mill." Time Magazine, January 23, 1939, p. 30.
  13. Robert McG. Thomas Jr. "Anne Hummert, 91, Dies." New York Times, July 21, 1996, p. 27.