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Peg Lynch papers

Identifier: Coll 066

Scope and Contents note

The Peg Lynch Papers span the years from 1944 to 1976. The collection consists largely of the radio and television scripts written by Lynch for the two shows which she created and starred in with Alan Bunce: "Ethel and Albert" and "The Couple Next Door."

The scripts contained in the collection follow two folders of chronologically arranged correspondence and are arranged by date from 1944 to 1964. They are followed by two indexes. The first index is comprehensive, providing a listing of scripts written between the inception of "Ethel and Albert" on the Blue Network (ABC) in 1944, through "The Little Things in Life" which appeared on the syndicated Radio Playhouse in 1975-1976. The second index lists scripts for "The Couple Next Door" (1951-1960) and "Ethel and Albert" on NBC "Monitor" (1963-1964). These indexes provide inclusive air dates and script numbers along with a one-line plot synopsis. In some instances individual air dates are also included.

Following the radio-television scripts are special and promotional scripts of "Ethel and Albert" and "The Couple Next Door." Many were written for special events, such as a CBS sales convention, or for special causes, such as muscular dystrophy fund-raising efforts.

Of special interest is a folder relating to the attempted purging of suspected communists within the Radio Writers Guild in 1950-1952.

The collection includes reel-to-reel and cassette tapes of "The Couple Next Door" which appeared between 1957 and 1960 on CBS radio. Also included are reel-to-reel tapes of "Ethel and Albert" from a brief run on National Public Radio in February 1973.

The collection concludes with packaged oversize material. Package #1 contains a 2-record set of the March 8, 1949 "Ethel and Albert" show, as well as other records of Arnold Baker's jingles for commercial spots and "The Financial Filberts" with Lynch, her daughter Elise Ronning and Eddie Bracken. Kinescopes of four "Ethel and Albert" shows between 1953 and 1966 comprise package #2, and package #3 is a scrapbook/album.

Individual photographs are included the photograph series. They include twelve images, primarily publicity portraits of Lynch and her co-star, Alan Bunce (1902-1965). Also included are 77 images from the set of Ethel and Albert.


  • Creation: 1944-1976


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Margaret Frances "Peg" Lynch was born on November 25, 1916 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her father died when she was two years old, and the family moved to Kasson, Minnesota. Lynch graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1937 after majoring in English with an emphasis on writing and dramatics.

She got her start in radio shortly after graduation, landing a job at station KATE in Albert Lea, Minnesota about 100 miles southwest of Rochester. To earn her $65 per month salary as a copy writer, Lynch wrote commercials, a daily half-hour woman's show, a weekly half hour little theater show, a weekly farm news program, three 10-minute plays, and two 5-minute sketches. It was at KATE that Lynch first introduced, as a 3-minute "filler" sketch in the woman's show, the husband and wife characters of Ethel and Albert. Lynch portrayed Ethel and a station announcer played Albert. She got the idea from her commercial writing for the station. Challenged by the lack of personnel and other resources at the small station, she discovered that a husband-wife format could be used to sell a variety of products.

After four months at KATE, Lynch moved on to WCHV in Charlottesville, Virginia and then to WTBO in Cumberland, Maryland. At each station she continued to develop "Ethel and Albert," expanding it at WTBO into a five-times-per-week, 15-minute evening feature.

In February 1944, Lynch moved to New York where she got a job as a writer for a network serial. While writing scripts for the serial, she submitted some "Ethel and Albert" scripts to the Blue Network, which later became the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The network not only accepted the show and signed her to write it, but after auditioning actresses for the Ethel role, insisted she do it herself. The Albert character in the show was played by Richard Widmark who quit after six month. He was replaced by Alan Bunce, who co-starred with Lynch in "Ethel and Albert" and later "The Couple Next Door." Their partnership lasted 20 years to the time of his death in 1965.

"Ethel and Albert" went on the air on April 17, 1944 as a 15-minute daily show. It continued in that format until 1949 when it was expanded to a half hour. The show moved into commercial television in 1950 as a 10-minute segment on the "Kate Smith Hour," and in April 1953, "Ethel and Albert" became a half hour program on the NBC network.

The show was well received by the public and the critics. Kay Gardella of the New York Daily News wrote that "Ethel and Albert" was "generally regarded as the top domestic comedy on T.V. The warm, realistic characterizations and situations of this stanza reflect the personality of its creator. Peg is completely down to earth and so are her scripts." Jack Gould of the New York Times gave credit to the show and its creator-writer when he wrote, "The author of 'Ethel and Albert,' of course, is Miss Lynch herself. She has lost none of her uncanny knack for catching the small situation in married life and developing it into a gem of quiet humor. The charm of 'Ethel and Albert' is that they could be man and wife off the screen."

Lynch, however, in real life was married to Odd Knut Ronning, an engineering consultant, whom she married in 1948. The couple have a daughter, Elise Astrid Ronning.

NBC cancelled "Ethel and Albert" in December 1954, but the show found new life when it was picked up by CBS as a 1955 summer replacement for "December Bride." In the fall of 1955, the show switched networks again, this time to ABC where it would remain until May 1956. Lynch owned the rights to the show and so was not limited to a single network. Despite a vocal and loyal support among the public and the critics, "Ethel and Albert" aired for the final time on television on May 25, 1956. However the show continued on CBS radio, starting in 1957, with the title changed to "The Couple Next Door." Lynch and Alan Bunce continued in the title roles and Lynch remained as the shows writer. "The Couple Next Door" had a 3-year run in a 15-minute format, ending in 1960.

"Ethel and Albert" enjoyed revivals in 1963-1964 on NBC "Monitor" and on National Public Radio's "Earplay" in 1973. In 1975-1976, Lynch wrote and starred in "Little Things in Life" for Radio Playhouse.

Peg Lynch lives in Becket, Massachusetts with her husband and continues to write, most recently adapting "Ethel and Albert" for a limited run on British television in 1982.


65 linear feet (118 containers)

Language of Materials



Margaret Frances "Peg" Lynch (1916- ) is a writer for radio and television, known in particular for her "Ethel and Albert" radio and television program that aired in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The collection includes correspondence, scripts for radio and television, audiotapes, kinescopes, and photographs.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Biographical MaterialCorrespondenceRadio-TV ScriptsRadio Writer's Guild (RWG)Reel-to-Reel TapesCassette TapesOversize

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Collection was a gift of Margaret "Peg" Lynch in 1969.

Existence and Location of Copies

Selected sound recordings in this collection are available as digital audio files in Special Collections & University Archives: "The Financial Filberts"

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Francis Keating.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Peg Lynch papers
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Finding aid prepared by Francis Keating, Manuscripts Processor
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA