A: Yes. Dallas McKennon, a talented actor and voice creator, best remembered by many as the barkeep Cincinnatus on the popular action-adventure series “Daniel Boone,” was a La Grande native.
McKennon, who died in 2009 at age 89, appeared in 80 of the 165 episodes of “Daniel Boone,” which starred Fess Parker and ran from 1964 through 1970. McKennon tried in 1965 to get the show filmed in La Grande because he thought its scenery closely resembled that of Kentucky, the site the TV series was meant to portray, according to www.feedback.pdxradio.com.
Despite McKennon’s request, the television series continued to be filmed in Southern California and Utah.
McKennon was born in La Grande in 1919 and got his start as a professional entertainer here in 1938 when he began working at the KLBM radio station. He began working there at the suggestion of his high school principal, according to a Feb. 11, 2006, Observer article.
“(The principal) recommended me, and I got my first job,” McKennon said. “I had to get myself a sponsor, then I came out with my first show on the air.”
His KLBM show consisted of stories from literary giants O. Henry, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. McKennon read stories from their works live during the show from the mezzanine floor of the old Sacajawea Hotel, where the station then had its studios.
“I was petrified when I got in front of that (microphone) until I realized that it was not a do-or-die situation,” McKennon said.
McKennon later moved to Portland, where he married Betty Warner. A pivotal moment of his life occurred there in the early 1950s when he was selected for a part in the movie “Bend of the River,” which was being filmed in Oregon and starred Jimmy Stewart.
Stewart was struck by McKennon’s talents and encouraged him to move to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.
“He asked me to come talk to him (and) he said, ‘I think you need to tell me something about your background. I think you are made for Hollywood.’ I darn near bawled right in his face,” McKennon recalled.
McKennon took Stewart’s advice and moved to Hollywood. It was not long before he landed jobs making commercials, cartoons and acting in television programs and movies.
In the early 1950s he provided the original voice for Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger character, its Frosted Flakes mascot. It was McKennon who shouted “They’re gr-r-r-r-reat!” according to www.feedback.pdxradio.com.
McKennon later provided multiple voices for “The Woody Woodpecker Show” as well as for movies including Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and “101 Dalmatians.”
“Daniel Boone” was the only TV series on which McKennon was a regular. But he made at least one appearance in many other television programs in the 1950s and ‘60s including “Dragnet,” “Wagon Train,” “Gunsmoke,” “My Three Sons,” “The Virginian,” “The Rifleman,” “My Favorite Martian,” “Bonanza,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Big Valley.”
McKennon also appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 suspense film “The Birds”; “Clambake,” a 1967 film starring Elvis Presley; and the Walt Disney film “The Cat from Outer Space” in 1978. He had the starring role in “Mystery Mansion,” a 1983 family film about a treasure hunt.
“He was an entertainer,” Will Ryan, a friend and fellow voice actor, told The Los Angeles Times in a July 18, 2009, article. “There was something of the 6-year-old in him, no matter what his age was.”
McKennon is credited with doing the voices of about 160 characters.
“He had a gift for mimicry,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t so much that he could do different voices, but that he could enthusiastically do different personalities.”