Your Unauthorized Guide to the Golden Age of National Lampoon Magazine

The Story Behind “The Jimmy Dugan Story”

May 22, 2002

First, a little background: On an April 1974 broadcast of The National Lampoon Radio Hour there was a bit called “The Jimmy Dugan Story” which featured John Belushi as a sports show host interviewing Brian Doyle-Murray as a coach/trainer who turned toddlers into super-athletes. One of the tots, Jimmy Dugan, is in the studio. The coach describes the grueling training regimen imposed on the kids and, at one point during the interview, goads the interviewer into punching little Jimmy to show just how tough he is. Of course, Jimmy starts crying. The coach eggs the interviewer on to hit him again because “he can take it.” Sadly, he can’t and the second blow proves fatal, thus bringing a tragic close to “The Jimmy Dugan Story.”

Reader Mark Winter sheds some light onto how this darkly funny bit was brought to life:

“I heard an interview with Michael O’Donoghue on the Kevin Mathews radio show here in Chicago shortly after O’Donoghue died. In the interview Kevin played ‘The Jimmy Dugan Story.’ O’Donoghue told Kevin the secret behind how he got the kid to cry so realistically. O’Donoghue found out the kid was terrified of big dogs before the kid showed up for the show. While the kid was doing the recording session O’Donoghue had a staff member bring a huge dog up to the studio, but kept it hidden out of the kid’s sight until needed. At the right time O’Donoghue brought the dog into the studio, and when the kid saw the dog, he lost it and began to cry. O’Donoghue got the recording he wanted and it made the piece really funny.”


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