Joe Penner worked with many talented performers, writers and musicians during his career. A few -- such as Jack Oakie
and Charles Butterworth -- were already established stars when they teamed with Penner. Others -- such as Lucille Ball, Betty
Grable, Martha Raye and Ozzie & Harriet Nelson -- worked with him when their stars were in ascent.
others were part of that wonderful breed of "character actors" or "supporting players," performers who
comprised the hardest working group in the studio system era. You may not know their names, but many of their faces will be
But there were two especially talented men -- actor Richard
Lane and song & gag writer Heinz Rubel (aka Hal Raynor) -- who worked with
Penner on stage, in radio and in the movies. Conveniently for our needs, they are both pictured in the 1938 photo (above left)
of The Park Avenue Penners radio program cast and crew. Rubel/Raynor is up top, left
of center, in the glasses and white suit. Lane is leaning on his left hand beside the CBS microphone on the middle right (click
Below are short biographies of each man.
Richard "Dick" Lane
He was Joe Penner's frequent foil on film and radio, Jackie Robinson's celluloid manager, the human soundtrack
to a generation of wrestling and roller derby-mad Los Angelenos, and the man who first uttered the phrase, "Whooooaaaah,
Richard Lane was born in Rice Lake, Wisconsin on May 28, 1899. After early success as an announcer
and emcee, he came to Broadway in 1928, where he appeared in the long-running comedy Present
Arms. In 1930, he appeared in the Vanderbilt Revue alongside eventual film
and radio co-star Joe Penner. He made his film debut beside Bob Hope in the 1935 comedy Shop
Talk, and following 110 stage performances of George White's Scandals of 1936
(where he appeared alongside Bert Lahr, Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards and Rudy Vallee, among others), it was off to
Hollywood for good.
In this rare autographed candid photo from the set of I'm From the City, Dick Lane (third from right) receives a birthday cake from Penner. Also in the shot to the left
of Penner are (l to r) director Ben Holmes, Kay Sutton and Lorraine Krueger. Co-star Kathryn Sheldon is on the far right.
Click on the photo to enlarge it.
(above) Richard Lane, Kathryn Sheldon and Lorraine Krueger try to chase down Joe Penner
in I'm From the City. (below right) Richard Lane and Tom Kennedy look on in amazement
as Penner turns down a big tip from a race track customer in The Day the Bookies Wept.
Starting with RKO's New Faces of 1937
(where he portrayed a conniving stockbroker alongside Milton Berle), he appeared in six of Joe Penner's feature films,
as well as on the comedian's CBS radio program, The Park Avenue Penners. Frequently
cast as a fast-talking con-man, carnival barker or grifter, he was also at home in roles on the good side of the law. From
1941 to 1949, he portrayed Inspector Farraday in thirteen Boston Blackie program pictures
for Columbia Studios. He also was cast as a baseball coach in The Babe Ruth Story,
Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and The Jackie Robinson
Lane was born with the gift of gab, and could keep up a steady patter with the best in the business. By the late 1940s,
he returned to his first love, both in film roles and the new medium of television. In fact, as "Dick Lane, he is perhaps
best known to 1950s and 1960s Los Angeles sports fans as the voice of wrestling, roller derby (The Los Angeles Thunderbirds)
and midget auto racing. He was a regular on The Spade Cooley Show, and his work for
station KTLA's weekly variety show, Dixie Showboat, earned him an Emmy nomination
He is also fondly remembered for his Chevrolet commercials, where he slapped the fenders of the cars to accentuate
his sales pitch. He frequently shouted "Whoooaaah, Nellie" during especially exciting moments of his wrestling and
roller derby broadcasts, and the phrase was soon picked up by a young Keith Jackson, who himself went on to great fame with
Lane died on September 5, 1982 in Newport Beach, California.
Heinz Rubel (pen name: Hal Raynor)
*Special thanks to Scott Rubel (one of Heinz' grandsons) for providing the Rubel/Raynor
photos and a huge chunk of this biography.
Henry Scott "Heinz" Rubel (aka Hal Raynor), was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Feb. 5, 1898, and grew up in the
area. While in his freshman year in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, he was called into service
as a radio operator in the U.S. Navy, where he held the record of fastest code speed from 1917-1920.
war, Rubel chose to give up electrical engineering (in which he now had a degree) and enter the ministry of the Episcopal
Church. He went back to college for this degree and worked his way through by writing a newspaper column. His specialty song
writing began in earnest at this time. In addition to writing original material for stage performers and orchestras, he wrote
the book, music and lyrics for Kikmi, his production for one of the celebrated University
of Wisconsin “Haresfoot” Shows.
After receiving his A.B. degree, Rubel moved to New York City for post-graduate
work at the General Theological Seminary and Columbia University. While serving as Chaplain to Broadway (1925-27), he wrote
many musical numbers for New York theatrical performers. More importantly, he met and courted Dorothy Deuel, a Broadway musical
comedy star, who was headlining in the Music Box Review. They were married later in
Pittsburgh. Subsequently, his duties as curate, and later as rector, took him to the Midwest; first to Milwaukee and then
Click on the costumed photo below to
open a web page dedicated to Heinz and Dorothy Rubel.
|The Rubels dressed up for a costume party
While in Chicago, Rubel began writing and producing the World Book Man Series, a nationally
known educational feature that ran daily on 137 stations. In 1932 he was called to New York City to take charge of the National
Biscuit Company programs and for a year he wrote for and performed on these programs. He also composed six original songs
a week for this network production.
He came to California during the summer of 1935 to fulfill a contract with
Paramount Pictures, but returned to New York City to resume a contract with Joe Penner, with whom he had worked since before
Joe’s first broadcast in 1933.
The next summer he returned to California, again with Paramount Pictures.
This time he decided to make his home amid the orange groves of sunny Glendora, adjacent to Hollywood. In 1936, the Rev. Mr.
Rubel became Rector of Grace Church in Glendora.
|One of Raynor's early hits with Penner
Writing as Hal Raynor (a non de plume using the first initials of his first and last names), he created practically all
the special material introduced in motion pictures, on radio, and on the stage by Joe Penner. In 1941, a folio of Raynor’s
songs (see below) for Penner was published. Although Penner collaborated in the planning of the collection, his untimely passing
in January of that year caused it to be released posthumously.
Although he stayed active in the community and as
a chaplain into the last weeks of his life, Rubel's health began to fail after the crushing loss of his creative partner,
Joe Penner, on January 10, 1941.
Henry Scott Rubel passed away on December 4, 1946, and was interred
at Oakdale Cemetery after a military funeral at the Episcopal Church on Vista Bonita, Glendora, California.