PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Former Prattan writes Hollywood story

  • He was married to the Romper Room lady, built and operated his own radio station at age 9, lived on a beach in California close to Carol Burnett and Johnny Carson and got his start in Pratt behind a flower shop.

    • email print
  • He was married to the Romper Room lady, built and operated his own radio station at age 9, lived on a beach in California close to Carol Burnett and Johnny Carson and got his start in Pratt behind a flower shop.
    David Dunn, grandson of Ora Utz, has put his life’s adventures in an e-book “From Kansas To Hollywood.” It recalls his beginnings in radio in Pratt to his work at KAKE TV in Wichita through his life in Hollywood working with a vast array of famous stars.
    Dunn also wrote a movie script version of the book and is looking for someone to back the film. Some of the movie would be shot in Pratt if the film were made, Dunn said.
    The book and more information about the movie and Dunn is available at his website www.fromkansastohollywood.com.
    The book started as jotted down memories that eventually became a story line. He thought it would be a good story and family members agreed. It took him several years to perfect the writing style and get the story written, Dunn said.
    While he and the family like the book, it has been difficult to get it published.
    “Trying to sell a book is almost impossible. You can’t get publishers to look at anything,” Dunn said. “I would send out copies and they would come back unopened.”
    He opted to sell the book on the Internet but he found it difficult to let people know about the web site. He continues to look for book promotion.
    Born in Pratt on Nov. 25, 1934, Dunn was the son of Elmer and Kathryn (Utz) Dunn. He spent a lot of time in his grandmothers flower shop, Utz Flower Shop.
    His parents both worked at the Pratt Tribune but Dunn was fascinated with radio. His mother took him to Wichita to watch a radio show presentation. Soon he pretended to have his own radio station at his room at home but that wasn’t enough. He read about and built a working radio transmitter and broadcast antenna at age 9. He set up shop in a cottage behind his grandmother’s flower shop that was located in the parking lot next to Maag’s Funeral home that is now The Flower Shoppe, Dunn said.
    Dunn started broadcasting illegally at Pratt Broadcasting Station reading from the Pratt Tribune and even doing commercials for the flower shop: “You too will call 22 for Flowers.” The phone number for the flower shop was 22.
    But the radio station didn’t last long. A pair of drunk, ham radio operators that worked for the Tribune tracked down the signal and tore every thing apart.
    “They were mean and cruel. They were swearing at me,” Dunn said. “That was the end of my radio station.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Dunn spent many hours watching movies at the Barron Theater and the Kansas Theater that just happens to be the current home of the Pratt Tribune.
    The family moved to Wichita where his mother was one of the few female linotype operators in the county. She worked at the Wichita Eagle for 34 years.
    Dunn hung out at KANS radio and was hired at age 14. He became an engineer with KANS radio traveling with KANS Corral Gang with bandleader Corky Edminster.
    He later became an engineer at KAKE television and eventually directed Dusty’s Jamboree, Romper Room with teacher Miss Barbara, John Froome’s IGA Party Line, The Old Cobbler with Henry Harvey and Dunn as the voice of Dennis the Leprechaun plus Santa’s Workshop again with Henry Harvey as Santa Claus.
    Although he was married at the time he fell madly in love with Miss Barbara Balay, the Romper Room teacher. He got a divorce and they ran off and got married.
    One guest on the IGA Party line was Chuck Conners of “The Rifleman” television show. Conners was impressed with Dunn and suggested he go to KCOP in Hollywood and tell them Conners sent him. The day he arrived a cameraman for the Lloyd Thaxton show, similar to American Bandstand, showed up drunk and Dunn ran the camera. Within two weeks they fired the director and hired Dunn. He was the head of the video section for 12 years and worked with numerous Hollywood stars including Bob Hope, Roy Rogers and Dale Evens, Ginger Rogers, Vincent Price, Liberace, Zsa Zsa Gabor and many, many more, Dunn said.
    Dunn is now 74, semi retired and living in Las Vegas where he has done commercials for car dealers but spends much of his time trying to get someone to produce his movie. He remains optimistic.
    “It only takes one person to think it’s a great idea,” Dunn said.
    The head writer for the Young and the Restless, Janice Ferri, wants to get into movies and is interested in his movie, Dunn said.
  • Comments are currently unavailable on this article

    Events Calendar