Jean King, 76; Actress, Radio's 'Lonesome Gal'

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jean King, radio's "Lonesome Gal," the sultry-voiced temptress of the nation's airwaves during the late 1940s, has died.

Miss King, a veteran actress who went from radio to the Tarzan films and then back to radio, was 76 when she died of a heart attack Thursday at her North Hollywood home.

Miss King, a onetime beauty contest winner and band singer, was desperate for income when she conceived the Lonesome Gal character in Dayton, Ohio, in 1947.

Known only as Lonesome Gal, the actress spoke in a come-hither manner over the airwaves to attract her male-dominated audience. She would pretend that she was speaking to only one man at a time and would describe parks, monuments, schools and streets as if she were speaking to that one man from Dayton. At her peak, she recorded about 300 programs each week for playback on 50 stations across the United States.

Response from the males of Dayton was overwhelming, and she quickly moved the program into national syndication.

"Hiiiieee, baayybee," she would croon into the microphone, speaking as if she were wearing something fun and flimsy while her lonely radio lover poured her wine from a bottle set on a table laden with candles, linen and silver.

To lend this personal approach to a program that oozed sex to the extent possible under post-World War II mores and folkways, Miss King had to research the various communities in which she was heard, spending hours writing to chambers of commerce and other civic groups for geographic and demographic details.

The workload eventually wore her down and the onetime performer on such other radio shows as "I Love a Mystery," "Death Valley Days" and "Famous Jury Trials" took the show off the air.

To protect herself from her love-starved "muffins and babies," as she would call her listeners, she wore a mask when making personal appearances.

A widow, she is survived by a daughter, Patricia Cancilla, a son, W. G. Fargo Rousseau, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a sister.

Donations in her memory are asked to be sent to the Actors and Others for Animals.

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