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BARNEY MCNULTY, 77, CUE CARD CREATOR, DIES.

Byline: Orith Goldberg Staff Writer

STUDIO CITY - Barney McNulty, a Studio City resident who perfected the use of cue cards and worked with Bob Hope, Milton Berle and other Hollywood legends, has died, his family said Tuesday. He was 77.

McNulty, who died Monday in his sleep at his Studio City home, helped numerous actors light up the screen with his behind-the-scenes work as ``the Cue-Card King.'' Many say he invented the cue cards to help entertainers on television recall their lines.

``I guess he's up there writing cue cards for God,'' said Berle, who worked with McNulty for decades. ``He was a great help to many people. He saved a lot of people's lives who were actors who couldn't remember their lines. He is the Cue-Card King.''

McNulty's career with cue cards started in 1949 on ``The Ed Wynn Show,'' when the host, looking for help through an illness, asked him to write down some lines on a card.

He worked with a variety of television pioneers including Hope, Berle, Lucille Ball, Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, George Burns, Orson Welles and the Smothers Brothers.

McNulty's death came unexpectedly and prompted an outpouring of affection from those who worked with and adored him.

``Barney was my right-hand man, my ad libs,'' legendary comedian Hope said in a statement. ``Dolores and I will miss him greatly.''

McNulty worked with Hope throughout his career, starting in 1953, his wife said.

Hope's spokesman, Ward Grant, said Hope credits McNulty with literally saving his life during a trip to perform in Vietnam.

McNulty and his cue cards held up Hope's group at the airport for 10 minutes. During the delay, the group's hotel was bombed. Grant said he later learned that the Viet Cong bomb was meant for Hope.

``Bob said, 'I'll never disagree with that man again,' '' Grant said.

McNulty was born in Philadelphia on June 15, 1923.

In 1939, his family moved to California after his sister, Penny Singleton, began performing as ``Blondie'' in the ``Dagwood'' movies, said his wife, Jill McNulty.

McNulty graduated from North Hollywood High School in 1941 and joined the Army Air Force as an air traffic controller. In 1947, McNulty graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he earned an undergraduate degree in political science and then began studying law. He also started working as a page at CBS.

There, he took Wynn's request, which launched his career. He later formed a Burbank company, called Ad-Libs, that specialized in cue cards.

``He'd show up at church sing-alongs with cue cards,'' said Gil Chesterton, a family friend.

His wife said even though he was semiretired, McNulty had recently worked on a television movie scheduled to air in February called ``These Old Broads,`` featuring Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine and Debbie Reynolds.

But family members recalled him for things that weren't written on cards.

``His love and stamina for life were so incredible,'' said his daughter, 21-year-old Erin McNulty of Studio City. ``He always tried to learn new things and didn't want to retire.''

Before he died, family members celebrated his wife's birthday with a belated party.

Jill McNulty said her husband was a very gentle and loving man. ``He never said anything bad about anybody.''

Erin described her father as a kind-hearted man who took the time to learn the names of pets that lived in his neighborhood and to bring a newspaper to the door of someone who had trouble going outside to retrieve it.

``There's not a restaurant or grocery store where he wouldn't know at least two people's names,'' Erin McNulty said.

He was also an avid photographer.

McNulty is survived by his wife, Jill; a son, Keith McNulty, 38, of Malibu; three daughters, Audrey Schwartz, 40, of Ojai, Brynna McNulty, 24, of Studio City, and Erin, 21, of Studio City; sister, Penny Singleton, 92, of Sherman Oaks; and two granddaughters, Laurel Schwartz, 10, of Ojai, and Melissa McNulty, 22, of Malibu.

Funeral services for McNulty will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Sherman Oaks Presbyterian Church, 4445 Noble Ave. Private interment will follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the USO at 1008 Eberle Place, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20374, or McNulty's church, First Presbyterian Church of North Hollywood, 5000 Colfax Ave., Valley Village CA 91601.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Cue card inventor Barney McNulty worked with many television personalities, including legendary comedian Bob Hope.

(2) Barney McNulty came to be known as the Cue-Card King.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Dec 20, 2000
Words:755
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