Nostalgia: Remembering Uncle Henry

Henry Dupre’s legacy on-air and off continues

Henry Dupre at work on the WWL microphone. This photo is from the April 1950 edition of The Illustrated Press, a weekly tabloid magazine that covered both local and national news about radio and television personalities and programs during the 1940s and ’50s. Photo provided courtesy of the New Orleans Public Library.

Generations of New Orleanians grew up listening to Henry Dupre on the radio and watching him on television. He was the announcer of the popular “Dawnbusters” morning program on WWL and then later the first host of the children’s television show “Popeye and Pals” that aired on WWL-TV.

Dupre, a native of New Orleans, attended Jesuit College, which later became Jesuit High School. He started his acting career with the St. Charles Stock company in 1925 and then moved to New York in ’27 to further his career, playing alongside stars such as Eddie Cantor and Mae West. Upon returning to New Orleans in ’32, Dupre was hired by WWL.

Dupre was instrumental in the formation of a live morning radio program at WWL that would continue on for over 20 years and be one of New Orleans’ most popular radio programs. Officially named “Dawnbusters” in 1937, the program combined local news, a full orchestra, music, singing and skits, all led by host Dupre and broadcast from the Roosevelt New Orleans. Many local talents appeared on the show, including trumpet legend Al Hirt and Gretna-born Frankie Ford.

After “Dawnbusters” ended in 1957, Henry Dupre became the beloved host of the brand-new WWL-TV’s kiddie show “Popeye and Pals.” Known by the kids as “Uncle Henry,” Dupre showed Popeye cartoons to and interacted with a live audience of local kids. Though Dupre retired in ’64, the show ran until August 31, ’91, when it was replaced by Sally Ann Roberts’ teen news show “Our Generation.”

Dupre was active after retirement, volunteering with Toys for Tots and his alma mater Jesuit High School. He died in 1980 at age 74.

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