Saved by a screen siren

Duluth resident Gerald "Jerry" Nowak recently contacted us via his grandson to share this story:

"Almost every day you hear about somebody being bullied. I am 96 years old, and when I was in fourth grade, a bully grabbed me and tried to throw me to the ground. While this was happening, a girl ran over, grabbed the bully, threw him to the ground and said, 'Don't do that again.'

"Years later, I was reading the Duluth News Tribune and found an article talking about this same girl. She had gone on to become a Hollywood actress. Her name was Peggy Knudsen. She was one year older than me and we both went to St. Anthony grade school."

In 1923, Peggy Knudsen was born Margaret Ann Knudsen in Duluth, where her father, Conrad Knudsen, served on the fire department. She graduated in 1940 from Stanbrook Hall High School on the College of St. Scholastica campus.

According to a story published by Zenith City Online, Knudsen's first brush with fame came in 1939, when the News Tribune sponsored a contest in conjunction with the upcoming performance of the Broadway play "What a Life" at the Orpheum Theater. Contestants were asked to write a letter to the newspaper stating why they would like a date with an actor in the play.

Knudsen, 16, won a date with actor Jackie Coogan, who later played Uncle Fester on "The Addams Family."

Knudsen went on to appear in numerous films and TV shows alongside big-name stars like Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford and Lauren Bacall.

Knudsen was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 for her work in television, which included notable guest appearances on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," "Perry Mason" and "Bat Masterson."

Her career ended in the mid-1960s due to debilitating arthritis. In 1980, she died in Encino, California, at age 57.

Among her grandchildren are John Orloff, Emmy-nominated writer of HBO's 2001 miniseries "Band of Brothers," and Greg Orloff, Oscar award winner for "Best Sound" for the 2004 movie "Ray."

Comfort-in-a-can marks 55 years

Waukesha County, Wisconsin, native Donald Goerke is considered the creator of SpaghettiOs. (Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association)
Waukesha County, Wisconsin, native Donald Goerke is considered the creator of SpaghettiOs. (Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association)

Sheltering-in-place means canned goods get a more frequent rotation at the dinner table, and nothing screams "pandemic" like SpaghettiOs.

First marketed as the “neat round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon," it hit store shelves 55 years ago, almost to the day — May 16, 1965. The meatballs, tomato sauce and pasta rings staple of your youth was developed by Waukesha County, Wisconsin, native Donald Goerke.

The University of Wisconsin graduate was tasked with developing an easy-to-eat meal for kids, and "chose a round pasta that could stand up to canning and reheating, and that kids could eat with a spoon without making a mess," according to a news release from the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.

Where did the catchy "Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs" jingle come from? According to a 1995 story in The Baltimore Sun, Campbell commissioned country crooner Jimmie Rodgers, known for his 1958 hit "Oh-Oh I'm Falling in Love Again," as the voice for the job.

Other random things invented, discovered or pioneered by UW grads: the round silo, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, hybrid corn, artificial insemination in livestock, SPF ratings, bone marrow transplants, chemical scissors (capable of cutting DNA molecules), stem cells and binge drinking.

Submit your quirky news bits, tips and slices of local life to "Eh?" (Katie Rohman / News Tribune)
Submit your quirky news bits, tips and slices of local life to "Eh?" (Katie Rohman / News Tribune)

We welcome your submissions and suggestions. Drop us a line at newsroom@duluthnews.com or Eh?, Duluth News Tribune newsroom, 424 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802.

This story originally incorrectly named Peggy Knudsen's father, Conrad Knudsen. He served on the Duluth Fire Department, but a family member said it's unclear what his role was. It also incorrectly stated where Peggy graduated from. The story was updated at 12:32 a.m. May 19. The News Tribune regrets the error.