Arthur Morton Godfrey (August 31, 1903 – March 16, 1983) was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead. An infamous on-air incident undermined his folksy image and resulted in a marked decline in his popularity. At the peak of his success in the mid-1950s, Godfrey helmed two CBS-TV weekly series and a daily 90-minute television mid-morning show, but, by the early 1960s, his presence had been reduced to hosting the occasional TV special and his daily network radio show, which ended in 1972.
One of the medium's early master commercial pitchmen, he was strongly identified with many of his sponsors, especially Chesterfield cigarettes and Lipton Tea. Having advertised Chesterfield for many years, during which time he devised the slogan "Buy 'em by the carton", Godfrey terminated his relationship with the company after he quit smoking, five years before he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1959. Subsequently, he became a prominent spokesman for anti-smoking education.
Godfrey in 1953
Arthur Morton Leo Godfrey
August 31, 1903
|Died||March 16, 1983 (aged 79)|
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Broadcaster and entertainer|
(m. 1938; div. 1982)
Godfrey was born in Manhattan in 1903. His mother, Kathryn Morton Godfrey, was from a well-to-do Oswego, New York, family which disapproved of her marriage to an older Englishman, Arthur's father Arthur Hanbury Godfrey. The senior Godfrey was a sportswriter and considered an expert on surrey and hackney horses, but the advent of the automobile devastated the family's finances. By 1915, when Arthur was 12, the family had moved to Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Arthur, the eldest of five children, tried to help them survive by working before and after school, but at age 14 left home to ease the financial burden on the family. By 15 he was a civilian typist at Camp Merritt, New Jersey, and enlisted in the Navy (by lying about his age) two years later.
Godfrey's father was something of a "free thinker" by the standards of the era. He did not disdain organized religion but insisted that his children explore all faiths before deciding for themselves which to embrace. Their childhood friends included Catholic, Jewish and every kind of Protestant playmates. The senior Godfrey was friends with the Vanderbilts, but was as likely to spend his time talking with the shoeshine man or the hotdog vendor about issues of the day. In the book, Genius in the Family (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1962), written about their mother by Godfrey's youngest sister, Dorothy Gene (who preferred to be called "Jean"), with the help of their sister, Kathy, it was reported that the angriest they ever saw their father was when a man on the ferry declared the Ku Klux Klan a civic organization vital to the good of the community. They rode the ferry back and forth three times, with their father arguing with the man that the Klan was a bunch of "Blasted, bigoted fools, led 'round by the nose!"
Godfrey's mother, Kathryn, was a gifted artist and composer whose aspirations to fame were laid aside to take care of her family after her husband, Arthur or "Darl'", died. Her creativity enabled the family to get through some very hard times by playing the piano to accompany silent movies, making jams and jellies and crocheting bedspreads to sell, and even cutting off and selling her floor length hair, as it was extremely difficult for a woman of her "class" to find work without violating social mores of the time. The one household item that was never sold or turned into firewood was the piano, and she believed at least some of her children would succeed in show business. In her later years some of her compositions were performed by symphony orchestras in Canada, which earned her a mention in Time. In 1957, at the age of 78, her sauciness made her a big hit with the audience when she appeared on Groucho Marx's quiz show You Bet Your Life. She died of cancer in 1968 at a nursing home in a suburb north of Chicago.
Godfrey served in the United States Navy from 1920 to 1924 as a radio operator on naval destroyers, but returned home to care for the family after his father's death. Additional radio training came during Godfrey's service in the Coast Guard from 1927 to 1930. He passed a stringent qualifying examination and was admitted to the prestigious Radio Materiel School at the Naval Research Laboratory, graduating in 1929. It was during a Coast Guard stint in Baltimore that on October 5 of that year he appeared on a local talent show and became popular enough to land his own brief weekly program.
On leaving the Coast Guard, Godfrey became a radio announcer for the Baltimore station WFBR (now WJZ (AM)) and moved to Washington, D.C. to become a staff announcer for NBC-owned station WRC the same year and remained there until 1934.
Recovering from a near-fatal automobile accident en route to a flying lesson in 1931 (he was already an avid flyer), he decided to listen closely to the radio and realized that the stiff, formal style then used by announcers could not connect with the average radio listener. The announcers spoke in stentorian tones, as if giving a formal speech to a crowd and not communicating on a personal level. Godfrey vowed that when he returned to the airwaves, he would affect a relaxed, informal style as if he were talking to just one person. He also used that style to do his own commercials and became a regional star. Over time, he added wisecracks to his commercials and would kid the sponsors, a risky move that offended advertising agency executives whose staff worked on the commercial scripts. Nonetheless, Godfrey's antics quickly gained acceptance when his sponsors discovered their sales actually increased after Godfrey's added jokes. At times, he would read an ad agency script on television as he mockingly rolled his eyes, used a sarcastic tone of voice or added his own wisecracks. Since the sponsors approved, given their added sales, the agencies were powerless to stop him.
In addition to announcing, Godfrey sang and played the ukulele. In 1934 he became a freelance entertainer, but eventually based himself on a daily show titled Sundial on CBS-owned station WJSV (now WFED) in Washington. Godfrey was the station's morning disc jockey, playing records, delivering commercials (often with tongue in cheek; a classic example had him referring to Bayer Aspirin as "bare ass prin"), interviewing guests, and even reading news reports during his three-hour shift. Godfrey loved to sing, and would frequently sing random verses during the "talk" portions of his program. In 1937, he was a host on Professor Quiz, radio's first successful quiz program. One surviving broadcast from 1939 has Godfrey unexpectedly turning on his microphone to harmonize with The Foursome's recording of "There'll Be Some Changes Made."
Godfrey was eager to remain connected with the Navy, but found his hip injuries rendered him unsuitable for military service. He knew President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who listened to his Washington program, and through Roosevelt's intercession, he received a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve before World War II. He would participate in exercises around the Washington area. Godfrey eventually moved his base to the CBS station in New York City, then known as WABC (now WCBS), and was heard on both WJSV and WABC for a time. In the autumn of 1942, he also became the announcer for Fred Allen's Texaco Star Theater show on the CBS network, but a personality conflict between Allen and Godfrey led to his early release from the show after only six weeks.
Godfrey became nationally known in April 1945 when, as CBS's morning-radio man in Washington, he took the microphone for a live, firsthand account of President Roosevelt's funeral procession. The entire CBS network picked up the broadcast, later preserved in the Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly record series, I Can Hear it Now. Unlike the tight-lipped news reporters and commentators of the day, who delivered news in an earnest, businesslike manner, Godfrey's tone was sympathetic and neighborly, lending immediacy and intimacy to his words. When describing new President Harry S. Truman's car in the procession, Godfrey fervently said, in a choked voice, "God bless him, President Truman." Godfrey broke down in tears and cued the listeners back to the studio. The entire nation was moved by his emotional outburst.
Godfrey made such an impression on the air that CBS gave him his own morning time slot on the nationwide network. Arthur Godfrey Time was a Monday–Friday show that featured his monologues, interviews with various stars, music from his own in-house combo and regular vocalists. Godfrey's monologues and discussions were usually unscripted, and went wherever he chose. Arthur Godfrey Time remained a late morning staple on the CBS Radio Network schedule until 1972.
Two radio monologues proved to be audience favorites and were rebroadcast on several occasions by popular demand, and later on his television show. They were "What is a Boy?" and a follow-up, "What is a Girl?" With the skilled addition of sentimental music, both monologues captured the essence of what made parents love their children, fondly describing the highly varied personality traits of each child as the monologue progressed. Each monologue struck a chord with everyone who heard it. "What is a boy?" in particular proved to be so popular that it was released as one of Godfrey's records, which he issued on Columbia Records (Record no. 39487) in the summer of 1951, with "What is a Girl?" on the b-side of the record. It peaked on the Billboard charts in August 1951, one of several successful records Godfrey released between 1947 and 1952.
Godfrey was also known for sparking impromptu jam sessions on the air with the band, all of them first-rate musicians who could create an arrangement as they went. He would sometimes begin singing with his ukulele, the band falling in behind him. At other times, he would jump into a number sung by one of the "Little Godfreys" and continue it, encouraging solos from various band members. It was further proof of his insistence on spontaneity on the air. He began to play a baritone ukulele. Over time, tutored by the band's guitarist Remo Palmier, Godfrey's playing took a decidedly jazzy quality. Palmier, a top Manhattan studio guitarist, was also a respected jazz guitarist and the only one of Godfrey's musicians to remain with the show from its 1945 debut until the final 1972 broadcast.
In 1947, Godfrey had a surprise hit record with the novelty "Too Fat Polka (She's Too Fat For Me)" written by Ross MacLean and Arthur Richardson. The song reached number two in the US charts and its popularity led to the Andrews Sisters recording a version adapted to the women's point-of-view. In general, Godfrey despised most of his novelty recordings, including "Too Fat Polka", his biggest selling record.
Godfrey's morning show was supplemented by a primetime variety show, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, broadcasting from the CBS Studio Building at 49 East 52nd Street where he had his main office. This variety show, a showcase for rising young performers, was a slight variation of CBS's successful Original Amateur Hour. Some of the performers had made public appearances in their home towns and were recommended to Godfrey by friends or colleagues. These "sponsors" would accompany the performers to the broadcast and introduce them to Godfrey on the air. Two acts from the same 1948 broadcast were Wally Cox and The Chordettes. Both were big hits that night, and both were signed to recording contracts. Godfrey took special interest in The Chordettes, who sang his kind of barbershop-quartet harmony, and he soon made them part of his broadcasting and recording "family." Godfrey was also known for extemporizing music on the show, grabbing his ukulele and launching into songs the band may not have rehearsed. He had insisted on employing musicians in his small orchestra who would be able to accompany him quickly and "follow" him as he sang. This resulted in impromptu jam sessions on some broadcasts, rarely heard on mainstream variety programs.
Performers who appeared on Talent Scouts included Lenny Bruce, Don Adams, Tony Bennett, Patsy Cline, Pat Boone, opera singer Marilyn Horne, Roy Clark, and Irish vocalist Carmel Quinn. Later, he promoted "Little Godfrey" Janette Davis to a management position as the show's talent coordinator. Three notable acts rejected for the show were Elvis Presley, Sonny Till & The Orioles, and The Four Freshmen. Following his appearances on the Louisiana Hayride, Presley traveled to New York for an unsuccessful Talent Scouts audition in April 1955; after the Talent Scouts staff rejected The Orioles, they went on to have a hit record with their version of "Crying in the Chapel" (a major hit song by Darrell Glenn, written by Glenn's father, Artie, and a subsequent hit for Presley, as well) and kicked off the "bird group" trend of early rock 'n' roll.
In 1948, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts began to be simultaneously broadcast on radio and television, and by 1952, Arthur Godfrey Time also appeared on both media. The radio version ran an hour and a half; the TV version an hour, later expanded to an hour and a half. The Friday shows were heard on radio only, because at the end of the week, Godfrey traditionally broadcast his portion from a studio at his Virginia farm outside of Washington, D.C., and TV cameras were unable to transmit live pictures of him and his New York cast at the same time. Godfrey's skills as a commercial pitchman brought him a large number of loyal sponsors, including Lipton Tea, Frigidaire, Pillsbury cake mixes and Liggett & Myers's Chesterfield cigarettes.
He found that one way to enhance his pitches was to extemporize his commercials, poking fun at the sponsors (while never showing disrespect for the products themselves), the sponsors' company executives, and advertising agency types who wrote the scripted commercials that he regularly ignored. (If he read them at all, he ridiculed them or even threw aside the scripts in front of the cameras.) To the surprise of the advertising agencies and sponsors, Godfrey's kidding of the commercials and products frequently enhanced the sales of those products. His popularity and ability to sell brought a windfall to CBS, accounting for a significant percentage of their corporate profits. While his willingness to mock the scripted commercials provided to him by sponsors' ad agencies angered those agencies, the sponsors, concerned only with improving their sales, were happy to let Godfrey tear apart those scripts (even physically on occasion).
In 1949, Arthur Godfrey and His Friends, a weekly informal variety show, began on CBS-TV in prime time. His affable personality combined warmth, heart, and occasional bits of double entendre repartee, such as his remark when the show went on location: "Well, here we are in Miami Bitch. Hehheh." Godfrey received adulation from fans who felt that despite his considerable wealth, he was really "one of them," his personality that of a friendly next-door-neighbor. His ability to sell products, insisting he would not promote any in which he did not personally believe, gave him a level of trust from his audience, a belief that "if Godfrey said it, it must be so." When he quit smoking after his 1953 hip surgery, he began speaking out against smoking on the air, to the displeasure of longtime sponsor Chesterfield. When he stood his ground, the company withdrew as a sponsor. Godfrey shrugged off their departure since he knew other sponsors would easily fill the vacancy.
Eventually Godfrey added a weekend "best of" program culled from the week's Arthur Godfrey Time, known as Arthur Godfrey Digest. He began to veer away from interviewing stars in favor of a small group of regular performers that became known as the "Little Godfreys." Many of these artists were relatively obscure, but were given colossal national exposure, some of them former Talent Scouts winners including Hawaiian vocalist Haleloke, veteran Irish tenor Frank Parker, Marian Marlowe and Julius LaRosa, who was in the Navy when Godfrey, doing his annual Naval reserve duty, discovered the young singer. He subsequently invited him on the show as a guest, offering him a job upon his discharge. LaRosa joined the cast in 1951 and became a favorite with Godfrey's immense audience, who also saw him on the prime-time weekly show Arthur Godfrey and his Friends. Godfrey also had a regular announcer-foil on the show, Tony Marvin. Godfrey preferred his performers not to use personal managers or agents, but often had his staff represent the artists if they were doing personal appearances, which allowed him considerable control over their careers and incomes. In 1953, after LaRosa hired an agent, Godfrey was so angry that he fired him on the air.
Godfrey was one of the busiest men in the entertainment industry, often presiding over several daytime and evening radio and TV shows simultaneously. (Even busier was Robert Q. Lewis, who hosted Arthur Godfrey Time whenever Godfrey was absent, adding to his own crowded schedule.) Both Godfrey and Lewis made commercial recordings for Columbia Records, often featuring the "Little Godfreys" in various combinations. In addition to the "Too Fat Polka" mentioned above, these included "Candy and Cake"; "Dance Me Loose". "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover"; "Slap 'Er Down Again, Paw"; "Slow Poke"; and "The Thing". In 1951 Godfrey also narrated a nostalgic movie documentary, Fifty Years Before Your Eyes, produced for Warner Brothers by silent-film anthologist Robert Youngson.
Godfrey had been in pain since the 1931 car crash that damaged his hip. In 1953, he underwent pioneering hip replacement surgery in Boston using an early plastic artificial hip joint. The operation was successful and he returned to the show to the delight of his vast audience. During his recovery, CBS was so concerned about losing Godfrey's audience that they encouraged him to broadcast live from his Beacon Hill estate (near Leesburg, Virginia), with the signal carried by microwave towers built on the property.
Godfrey's immense popularity and the trust placed in him by audiences was noticed by not just advertisers but also his friend U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, who asked him to record a number of public service announcements to be played on American television in the case of nuclear war. It was thought that viewers would be reassured by Godfrey's grandfatherly tone and folksy manner. The existence of the PSA tapes was confirmed in 2004 by former CBS president Dr. Frank Stanton in an exchange with a writer with the Web site CONELRAD.
Godfrey learned to fly in 1929 while working in broadcast radio in the Washington, D.C., area, starting with gliders, then learning to fly airplanes. He was badly injured on his way to a flying lesson one afternoon in 1931 when an oncoming truck lost its left front wheel and hit him head on. Godfrey spent months recuperating, and the injury kept him from flying on active duty during World War II. He served as a reserve officer in the United States Navy in a public affairs role during the war.
Godfrey used his pervasive fame to advocate a strong anti-Communist stance and to pitch for enhanced strategic air power in the Cold War atmosphere. In addition to his advocacy for civil rights, he became a strong promoter of his middle-class fans vacationing in Hawaii and Miami Beach, Florida, formerly enclaves for the wealthy. He made a television movie in 1953, taking the controls of an Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellation airliner and flying to Miami, thus showing how safe airline travel had become. As a reserve officer, he used his public position to cajole the Navy into qualifying him as a Naval Aviator, and played that against the United States Air Force, who later successfully recruited him into the Air Force Reserve. At one time during the 1950s, Godfrey had flown every active aircraft in the military inventory.
His continued unpaid promotion of Eastern Air Lines earned him the undying gratitude of good friend Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War I flying ace who was the president of the airline. He was such a good friend of the airline that Rickenbacker took a retiring Douglas DC-3, fitted it out with an executive interior and DC-4 engines, and presented it to Godfrey, who then used it to commute to the studios in New York City from his huge Leesburg, Virginia, farm every Sunday night.
When the Godfrey show began appearing on television, some Southern CBS affiliates objected to the barbershop quartet The Mariners. This group of four US Coast Guard veterans included two whites and two blacks. Godfrey not only resisted criticism from network affiliates in Southern states: he struck back. During the Korean War, he noted black and white troops were serving together in the conflict and attacked critics of the group's presence including Georgia Governor Herman Talmadge. Godfrey's opposition to racial discrimination was longstanding, alluded to on his broadcasts.
In January 1954, Godfrey buzzed the control tower of Teterboro Airport in his DC-3. His certificate was suspended for six months. Godfrey claimed the windy conditions that day required him to turn immediately after takeoff, but in fact he was peeved with the tower because they would not give him the runway he requested. He later recorded a satirical song about the incident, "Teterboro Tower," roughly to the tune of "Wabash Cannonball". A similar event occurred while he flew near Chicago in 1956, though no sanctions were imposed. These incidents, in the wake of the controversies that swirled around Godfrey after his firing of Julius LaRosa, only further underscored the differences between his private and public persona.
On Monday, December 26, 1949, Godfrey was late for his show. Announcer George Bryan had to take over for the first two acts and the first commercial. Godfrey showed up after the second act, saying he waited at a nearby hotel, figuring he would not have to worry about traffic, it being the day after Christmas.
The original Leesburg airport, which Godfrey owned and referred to affectionately on his show as "The Old Cow Pasture," was less than a mile from the center of town, and local residents had come to expect rattling windows and crashing dishes every Sunday evening and Friday afternoon.
In 1960, Godfrey proposed building a new airport by selling the old field and donating a portion of the sale to a local group. Since Godfrey funded the majority of the airport, it is now known as Leesburg Executive Airport at Godfrey Field. He was also known for flying a North American/Ryan Navion, a smaller single-engined airplane, a Lockheed Jetstar, and in later years a Beech Baron and a Beech Duke, registration number N1M. In 1964, he became one of the founding members of the board of directors of Executive Jet Aviation Corporation.
Behind Godfrey's on-air warmth was a volatile and controlling personality. He insisted that his "Little Godfreys" attend dance and singing classes, believing all should be versatile performers regardless of whether they possessed the aptitude for those disciplines. In meetings with the cast and his staff, he could be abusive and intimidating. CBS historian Robert Metz, in CBS: Reflections in a Bloodshot Eye, quoted Godfrey as having once told cast and staffers, "Remember that many of you are here over the bodies I have personally slain. I have done it before and I can do it again." He also demanded, though there was no contractual requirement, that his cast members refrain from hiring personal managers or booking agents. He insisted his staff could handle all that. Given the rise of the "Little Godfreys" from total obscurity due to their exposure on Godfrey's programs, no one was inclined to challenge him. Despite his ability to bring in profits, CBS executives who respected Godfrey professionally disliked him personally, since he often baited them on and off the air, occasionally by name. This included CBS chairman William S. Paley.
Godfrey's attitude was controlling before his hip surgery, but upon his return, he added more air time to his morning shows and became critical of a number of aspects of the broadcasts. One night, he substituted a shortened, hastily arranged version of his Wednesday night variety show in place of the scheduled "Talent Scouts" presentation, feeling that none of the talent was up to standard. He also began casting a critical eye on others in the cast, particularly LaRosa, whose popularity continued to grow.
Like many men of his generation, Julius LaRosa as well as other male Godfrey cast members thought dance lessons to be somewhat effeminate and chafed when Godfrey ordered them for his entire performing crew. Metz suggested that Godfrey instituted the practice because his own physical limitations made him sensitive to the need for coordination on camera. "Godfrey," Metz wrote, "was concerned about his cast in his paternalistic way."
Godfrey and LaRosa had a dispute when LaRosa missed a dance lesson due to a family emergency. He claimed he had advised Godfrey, but was nonetheless barred from the show for a day in retaliation, via a notice placed on a cast bulletin board. LaRosa attempted to discuss the incident with Godfrey at the hotel where the host resided during the week, but Godfrey walked by him and refused to discuss anything with him. At that point, LaRosa retained topnotch manager Tommy Rockwell to renegotiate his contract with Godfrey or, failing that, to receive an outright release. However, such talks had yet to occur.
LaRosa was also signed to Cadence Records, founded by Godfrey's musical director Archie Bleyer, who produced "Eh, Cumpari!", the best-selling hit of LaRosa's musical career. LaRosa admitted the record's success had made him a little cocky. Godfrey discovered that LaRosa hired Rockwell in the wake of the dance lesson reprimand when he received a letter from Rockwell dictating that all dealings with LaRosa would go through General Artists Corporation, Rockwell's agency. At that point Godfrey immediately consulted with CBS President Dr. Frank Stanton, who noted that Godfrey had hired LaRosa on-air (after his initial appearance on Talent Scouts) and suggested firing him the same way. Whether Stanton intended this to occur after Godfrey spoke with LaRosa and his managers about the singer's future on the show, or whether Stanton suggested Godfrey actually fire LaRosa on air with no warning, is unknown. Soon after the firings, Stanton conceded "maybe this was a mistake."
On October 19, 1953, near the end of his morning radio show — deliberately waiting until after the television portion had ended — after lavishing praise on LaRosa in introducing the singer's performance of "Manhattan," Godfrey thanked him and then announced that this was LaRosa's "swan song" with the show, adding, "He goes now, out on his own — as his own star — soon to be seen on his own programs, and I know you'll wish him godspeed as much as I do". Godfrey then signed off for the day saying, "This is the CBS Radio Network". LaRosa, who had to be told what the phrase "swan song" meant, was dumbfounded, since he had not been informed beforehand of his departure and contract renegotiations had yet to happen. In perhaps a further illumination of the ego that Godfrey had formerly kept hidden, radio historian Gerald Nachman, in Raised on Radio, claims that what really miffed Godfrey about his now-former protege was that LaRosa's fan mail had come to outnumber Godfrey's. It is likely that a combination of these factors led to Godfrey's decision to discharge LaRosa. It is not likely Godfrey expected the public outcry that ensued, a result of the incident running directly counter to Godfrey's avuncular image.
The LaRosa incident opened an era of controversy that swirled around Godfrey and gradually destroyed his folksy image. It was not, however, the only firing that day. In 1952, Archie Bleyer had formed his own label, Cadence Records, which recorded LaRosa. The bandleader also married Janet Ertel of The Chordettes. The focus of Godfrey's anger was the fact that Bleyer, while vacationing from the show, had produced a spoken-word record by Godfrey's Chicago counterpart Don McNeill to be released on Cadence. McNeill hosted The Breakfast Club, which had been Godfrey's direct competition on the NBC Blue Network (later ABC) since Godfrey's days at WJSV. Despite the McNeill show's far more modest following, Godfrey was unduly offended, even paranoid, at what he felt was disloyalty on Bleyer's part. A face-to-face meeting between Bleyer and Godfrey following LaRosa's dismissal, described by Godfrey, revealed Bleyer was unconcerned about the matter. He simply shrugged off the dismissal and focused on developing Cadence, which found significant success in later years thanks to hits by the Everly Brothers and Andy Williams. He never commented publicly on the rift with Godfrey.
LaRosa, on the other hand, was beloved enough by Godfrey's fans that they saved their harshest criticism for Godfrey himself. After the firing, a conference was held by LaRosa and his agent. On October 21, with the public outcry rising, Godfrey further complicated the matter at a press conference of his own where he announced the dismissal of LaRosa and Bleyer, citing their "outside activities." While praising LaRosa, Godfrey added he felt that LaRosa had lost his "humility". The charge, given Godfrey's sudden baring of his own ego beneath the facade of warmth, brought mockery and a significant backlash from the public and press. Almost instantly, Godfrey and the phrase "no humility" became the butt of many comedians' jokes. He later claimed he had given LaRosa a release from his contract that the singer requested. Godfrey, however, provided no evidence to support that contention.
The Teterboro incident in January 1954 kept Godfrey's image negative in the media. At that same time, he ended his relationship with Chesterfield. After his 1953 hospitalization broke his smoking habit, he had concluded that smoking was not beneficial and very likely harmful, a total reverse from his earlier commercials. His once-friendly rapport with the company began to fade as he spoke out against smoking on the air.
Godfrey subsequently fired other producers and cast members including Marion Marlowe, Haleloke and The Mariners. The integrated quartet believed Godfrey had caved in to the continued criticism of CBS's southern affiliate stations over their continued presence on the show. Pat Boone and Carmel Quinn joined the cast for a time. But any thoughts of curtailing the fired cast members' network-television exposure backfired somewhat when they continued to perform for his substitute host, Robert Q. Lewis, who by now had his own midday show on CBS.
Occasionally, Godfrey snapped at cast members on the air including Tony Marvin. Other performers, most notably Pat Boone and, briefly, Patsy Cline, stepped in as "Little Godfreys." Cline, who had won top place for her appearance on "Talent Scouts," decided against becoming a regular, confining her appearances to a few guest spots. Eventually, Godfrey did away with any regular cast except Marvin, bringing in performers for a stipulated period of time and, if they did well with his audiences, bringing them back at various times.
Godfrey's problems with the media and public feuds with newspaper columnists such as Jack O'Brian and newspaperman turned CBS variety show host Ed Sullivan were duly documented by the media, which began running critical exposé articles linking him to several female "Little Godfreys." Godfrey's anger at Sullivan stemmed from the variety show impresario's featuring of fired "Little Godfreys" on his Sunday night show, including LaRosa. Godfrey later dismissed longtime vocalist Frank Parker, an Italian-American known for his Irish tenor. Parker had joked about Godfrey during a Las Vegas appearance.
As the media turned on Godfrey, two films, The Great Man (1956) starring José Ferrer, who also directed and produced, and Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd (1957) starring Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal, were inspired in part by Godfrey's increasingly controversial career:
Godfrey was a frequent target for parody:
Godfrey appeared on many major magazine covers including Life, Look, Time, and over a dozen TV Guide covers. He was also the first man to ever make the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. Despite his faux pas, Godfrey still commanded a strong presence and a loyal fan base. Talent Scouts lasted until 1958.
Accusations of anti-Semitism shadowed Godfrey during the height of his career and continue to persist. Eddie Fisher, in his autobiography, Been There, Done That, discusses the rumor:
One of the best-known anti-Semites in show business was Arthur Godfrey, the host of radio's most important amateur talent contest. Godfrey owned the Kenilworth Hotel in Florida, which supposedly had a sign in front that read NO DOGS OR JEWS ALLOWED. But when I got the opportunity to appear on Talent Scouts, I leaped at it. I didn't care that Godfrey wouldn't let me in his hotel as long as he let me sing on his radio show.
Arthur J. Singer, author of Arthur Godfrey: The Adventures of an American Broadcaster (2000), rejects this accusation, citing Godfrey's good personal relations with a number of Jews in the entertainment industry, including his longtime announcer Tony Marvin. As for Godfrey's association with the Kenilworth, the hotel did establish a "No Jews" policy in the 1920s, but abandoned it when Godfrey acquired a stake in the hotel in the early 1950s. In the eyes of the public, the increasingly negative publicity Godfrey, despite his ongoing popularity, had generated since 1953, much of it self-inflicted, no doubt added credence to the accusations. In fact Godfrey was only a part-owner of the hotel and insisted that when he took that stake, he ended any discriminatory policies that existed. Further undermining Fisher's account, he appeared on Talent Scouts years before Godfrey purchased a part interest in the Kenilworth.
In 1959, Godfrey began suffering chest pains. Examination by physicians revealed a mass in his chest that could have been lung cancer. Surgeons discovered cancer in one lung that spread to his aorta. One lung was removed. Yet, despite the disease's discouragingly high mortality rate, it became clear after radiation treatments that Godfrey had beaten the substantial odds against him. He returned to the air on a prime-time TV special but resumed the daily morning show on radio only, reverting to a format featuring guest stars such as ragtime pianist Max Morath and Irish vocalist Carmel Quinn, maintaining a live combo of first-rate Manhattan musicians (under the direction of Sy Mann) as he had done since the beginning. Godfrey also became a persuasive spokesman advocating regular medical checkups to detect cancer early, noting his cancer was cured only because it was discovered when still treatable.
Godfrey's initial return to television occurred in a TV special centered on his gratitude to have survived what was by 1959 standards, an almost-certain death sentence. He sang, danced, did commercials and announced that he'd make greater use of the new videotape technology for the future. Despite appearing healthy on the broadcast, Godfrey, fearing the aftereffects of his illness would adversely affect his appearance, announced that he would resume the Monday–Friday Arthur Godfrey Time on radio only, ending the daily TV broadcasts.
Longtime announcer Tony Marvin, with Godfrey since the late 1940s, did not make the transition to the new program. Marvin was one of Godfrey's few associates who left on amicable terms, and went on to a career as a radio news anchor on the Mutual Broadcasting System. The Godfrey show was the last daily longform entertainment program on American network radio when Godfrey and CBS agreed to end it in April 1972, when his 20-year contract with the network expired. Godfrey by then was a colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve and still an active pilot.
He appeared in the movies 4 for Texas (1963), The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows (1968). He briefly co-hosted Candid Camera with creator Allen Funt, but that relationship, like so many others, ended abruptly and acrimoniously; Godfrey hosted at least one broadcast without Funt. Godfrey also made various guest appearances, and he and Lucille Ball co-hosted the CBS special 50 Years of Television (1978). He also made a cameo appearance in the 1979 B-movie Angels Revenge.
In retirement, Godfrey wanted to find ways back onto a regular TV schedule. He appeared on the rock band Moby Grape's song "Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot", a 1920s-pop-style piece from their album Wow. Godfrey's political outlook was complex, and to some, contradictory; his lifelong admiration for Franklin Roosevelt combined with a powerful libertarian streak in his views and his open support for Dwight D. Eisenhower as president. During his later years he became a powerful voice for the environmentalist movement who identified with the youth culture that irreverently opposed the "establishment," as he felt he had done during his peak years. He renounced a lucrative endorsement deal with Colgate-Palmolive when it became clear to him that it clashed with his environmental principles. He had made commercials for Colgate toothpaste and the detergent Axion, only to repudiate the latter product when he found out that Axion contained phosphates, implicated in water pollution. He did far fewer commercials after that incident.
While Godfrey was a great fan of technology, including aviation and aerospace developments, he also found time for pursuits of an earlier era. He was a dedicated horseman and master at dressage and made charity appearances at horse shows.
He also found in later years that his enthusiasm for high-tech had its limits when he concluded that some technological developments posed the potential to threaten the environment. During one appearance on The Dick Cavett Show, Godfrey commented that the United States needed the supersonic transport "about as much as we need another bag of those clunkers from the moon." The concern that the SST contributed to noise pollution, an issue Godfrey was instrumental in raising in the United States, is considered to have effectively ended SST interest in the U.S., leaving it to Britain and France. (Cavett claims that Godfrey's statement also earned tax audits from the Richard Nixon-era Internal Revenue Service for the show's entire production staff.)
Despite an intense desire to remain in the public eye, Godfrey's presence ebbed considerably over the next ten years, despite an HBO special and an appearance on a PBS salute to the 1950s. A 1981 attempt to reconcile him with LaRosa for a Godfrey show reunion record album, bringing together Godfrey and a number of the "Little Godfreys," collapsed. Godfrey had initially resisted the idea, floated by his agent, but finally relented. At an initially amicable meeting, Godfrey reasserted that LaRosa wanted out of his contract and asked why he had not explained that instead of insisting he was fired without warning. When LaRosa began reminding him of the dance lesson controversy, Godfrey, then in his late seventies, exploded and the meeting ended in shambles.
Toward the end of his life, Godfrey became a major supporter of public broadcasting, and left his large personal archive of papers and programs to public station WNET/Thirteen in New York. Godfrey biographer Art Singer helped to arrange a permanent home for the Godfrey material at the Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland in early 1998. The collection contains hundreds of kinescopes of Godfrey television programs, more than 4,000 audiotapes and wire recordings of his various radio shows, videotapes, and transcription discs. The collection also contains Godfrey's voluminous personal papers and business records, which cover his spectacular rise and precipitous fall in the industry over a period of more than 50 years.
Emphysema, thought to have been caused by decades of smoking and the radiation treatments for Godfrey's lung cancer, became a problem in the early 1980s. He died of the condition at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on March 16, 1983 at the age of 79. Godfrey was buried at Union Cemetery in Leesburg, Virginia, not far from his farm.
Godfrey was married twice. He and his first wife, Catherine, had one child. He was next married to the former Mary Bourke from 1938 until their divorce in 1982, a year before his death. They had two children. His granddaughter is Mary Schmidt Amons, a cast member on The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C..
[He] was born in Manhattan to a mother who was a frustrated concert singer and an improvident father who was a self-styled British aristocrat. Young Arthur dropped out of high school to support the family at odd jobs. He started in radio almost by accident, as a banjo player sponsored by a birdseed company on a station in Baltimore.
As a surprise encore to a pop concert in Toronto, Conductor Andre Kostelanetz led the local symphony in the first playing of a spirited number, The Marine Boys March, written by an old acquaintance. On hand was the amateur composer: Mrs. Kathryn Godfrey, 76, sprightly mother of Radio-TV Impresario Arthur Godfrey. Said one Toronto critic: "An outstanding achievement."
Arthur Godfrey, the ukulele-playing radio and television personality whose folksy manner won him millions of admirers in the 1940s and 1950s, died yesterday at the age of 79. Mr. Godfrey, who had been mostly retired since the late 1950s, died in Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York after a ...
The 5th Emmy Awards, retroactively known as the 5th Primetime Emmy Awards after the debut of the Daytime Emmy Awards, were presented at the Hotel Statler in Los Angeles, California on February 5, 1953. The ceremonies were hosted by Art Linkletter.A Marshmallow World
"A Marshmallow World" (sometimes called "It's a Marshmallow World") is a popular song that was written in 1949 by Carl Sigman (lyrics) and Peter DeRose (music). The song is about winter and is commonly regarded as a Christmas song, although the lyrics make no mention of the holiday.
The song compares a snowfall to marshmallows covering the ground. It also describes the snowfall as whipped cream and the sun as a big red pumpkin head. The singer "waits for it the whole year 'round."
The song was first a hit for Bing Crosby (backed by the Lee Gordon Singers and Sonny Burke and his Orchestra). Crosby's version was recorded in 1950. It peaked at number 24 on the pop singles chart in January 1951. Other artists who recorded the song in 1950 included Ray Anthony, Vic Damone, Johnny Desmond, Arthur Godfrey, Vaughn Monroe, Brenda Lee and Dean Martin.Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts
Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts (also known as Talent Scouts) was an American radio and television variety show which ran on CBS from 1946 until 1958. Sponsored by Lipton Tea, it starred Arthur Godfrey, who was also hosting Arthur Godfrey and His Friends at the same time.Arthur Godfrey Peuchen
Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Godfrey Peuchen (April 18, 1859 – December 7, 1929) was a Canadian businessman and RMS Titanic survivor.Arthur Godfrey and His Friends
Arthur Godfrey and His Friends is an American television variety show hosted by Arthur Godfrey. The hour-long series aired on CBS Television from January 1949 to June 1957 (as The Arthur Godfrey Show after September 1956), then again as a half-hour show from September 1958 to April 1959.Many of Godfrey's musical acts were culled from Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, which was airing on CBS at the same time. Among the more popular of his singers were Frank Parker, Marion Marlowe, Janette Davis, Julius La Rosa, Haleloke, The Mariners, The McGuire Sisters, Carmel Quinn, Pat Boone, Miyoshi Umeki and The Chordettes. The show was live, and Godfrey often did away with the script and improvised. In addition, unlike his morning show Arthur Godfrey Time, the evening show often presented celebrity guests. He refused to participate in commercials for products he did not believe in.
The series was a hit in the Nielsen ratings in the early to mid 1950s, often finishing just behind Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. It ranked #18 in the 1950-1951 season, #6 in 1951-1952, #3 in 1952-1953, #6 in 1953-1954 and #22 in 1954-1955. Arthur Godfrey and His Friends also earned a nomination for an Emmy Award in 1953 for Best Variety Program.Cadence Records
Cadence Records was an American record company based in New York City whose labels had a picture of a metronome. It was founded by Archie Bleyer, who had been the musical director and orchestra leader for Arthur Godfrey in 1952. Bleyer had written a few hot songs in 1932–34 (Fletcher Henderson's "Business in F" is a good example) and had a band that recorded for ARC in 1934 and 1935 (his records were issued on Vocalion, Melotone, Perfect and Romeo).
The first recording star for Cadence was Godfrey alumnus Julius La Rosa. Other Godfrey alumnae signed to the label included the Chordettes. According to legend, Bleyer was fired from the Godfrey show when he signed someone Godfrey regarded as a rival to a record deal. (Godfrey later fired singer Julius La Rosa in October 1954, causing a storm of controversy at the time.) The label also produced the early hits of Andy Williams and the Everly Brothers, as well as Johnny Tillotson and Lenny Welch. Virtuoso jazz/classical pianist Don Shirley was signed with Cadence in the 1950s and 1960s. Candid Records was the company's short-lived jazz subsidiary. One of Cadence's most popular songs in the 1950s was "Eloise", written and sung by Kay Thompson.
Cadence charted nearly 100 American singles between 1953 and 1964. It produced the 1962 smash bestselling parody album, The First Family starring comedic actor Vaughn Meader. Acclaimed at that time as the fastest-selling album in history, this White House satire on the Kennedy family and Capitol Hill politics remained at #1 on the Billboard 200 for 12 weeks. Featuring Meader's impression of President John F. Kennedy, the sketch revue included takes on First Lady Jackie Kennedy, newsmakers like Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, and then Vice-President Lyndon Johnson. A follow-up album, The First Family, Volume Two, released in March 1963, reached #4. Both albums were immediately recalled and taken out of print following Kennedy's Dallas assassination. The departures of the Everly Brothers in 1960 (to Warner Bros. Records) and of Andy Williams in 1961 (to Columbia Records), along with radical changes in public taste and the music business brought on by the British Invasion, led to the rapid decline of the company by 1964. Bleyer opted to shut down Cadence, and sold Williams' masters to the singer, which he bought mainly because he wanted to keep any other buyer (Kapp Records and Liberty Records were two companies mentioned interested in buying the Cadence catalog) from reissuing his old material in competition with his new material. Bleyer wanted Williams to buy the entire Cadence catalogue, which he did. Williams reissued his old albums on Columbia and formed Barnaby Records to manage the Cadence catalogue.Florida State Road 112
Florida State Road 112 (SR 112) is an 9.9-mile-long (15.9 km) east–west state highway connecting Miami International Airport in Miami to Miami Beach in the U.S. state of Florida. Between the airport and Interstate 95, it is locally known as the Airport Expressway (or the Airport Tollway), and is an all-electronic toll road between State Road 9 to I-95. Between I-95 and Alton Road (SR 907A) in Miami Beach, SR 112 is signed only as Interstate 195 as it crosses Biscayne Bay by way of the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Between I-195 and its eastern terminus at Collins Avenue (SR A1A), the SR 112 signs are present but infrequent, and the road is locally maintained as Arthur Godfrey Road.Frederick Arthur Godfrey Muir
Frederick Arthur Godfrey Muir (24 April 1873 – 13 May 1931) was an English entomologist who worked in Africa and Hawaii. He wrote extensively describing many new species of insect and establishing the family Kinnaridae. He was also a pioneer of biological control.
Muir was born in Clapham, London to Joseph Alexander and Annie Marie (Lempriere) Muir. He studied in private schools and worked for ten years in Africa with the Eastern Telegraph Company from 1886 to 1905. He took an interest in insects and was encouraged by David Sharp and joined the experimental station of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association at Honolulu in 1905 and worked extensively on insects, especially those that suck sap in the superfamily Fulgoroidea. He initially worked under Robert Cyril Layton Perkins where he continued the work of Albert Koebele on the destructive Perkinsiella saccharicida. Work included travel to Southeast Asia to seek parasites to control the pests of cane in Hawaii. In 1913 he visited Japan to seek parasites for the root grub Anomala orientalis which was causing great damage to sugar cane. He published extensively, with over 100 scientific papers and was a Fellow of the Entomological Society of London. He was an authority on the leaf-hopper family Delphacidae. Muir conducted pioneering experiments on biological control, introducing the tachinid fly Ceromasia sphenophori into Hawaii.He married Margaret Annie Sharp (daughter of David Sharp) in April 1918 and they had a son.Godfrey Brown (athlete)
Arthur Godfrey Kilner Brown (21 February 1915 – 4 February 1995) was a British athlete, winner of gold medal in 4 × 400 m relay at the 1936 Summer Olympics. He later became Headmaster at the Royal Grammar School Worcester, a post which he held from 1950 until his retirement in 1978.
Born in Bankura, Bengal, India, Godfrey Brown was a highly talented runner at distances from 100 yd (91 m) to the half mile. He won the British AAA championships in 440 yd (400 m) in 1936 and 1938 and in 880 yd (800 m) in 1939.
At the Berlin Olympics, Brown was narrowly beaten by Archie Williams in the 400 m individual event, but Brown anchored the British 4 × 400 m relay team to a gold medal ahead of the United States.In 1937, Brown won 400 m at the World Student Games, with additional gold medals at both relays.At the 1938 European Championships, Brown won the individual 400 m, anchored the British 4 × 400 m relay team to a second place and won the bronze at 4 × 100 m relay.
Brown was educated at Warwick School, where he was Head Boy from 1933 – 1934. In 1935 he went to study English and History at Peterhouse, Cambridge University and worked after graduation as a history master at Bedford School. Because his sight was poor he was not mobilized in the Army, staying as school master at Cheltenham College from 1943 to 1950. From 1950 till 1978, Brown was the headmaster of Worcester Royal Grammar School. He died in Sussex, aged 79.
His sister Audrey and brother Ralph were also notable athletes, Audrey winning a silver in 4 × 100 m relay at the 1936 Olympics and Ralph won the British AAA championships title in 440 yd (400 m) hurdles in 1934.Gone Fishin' (song)
Gone Fishin' is a song written by Nick and Charles Kenny and recorded by Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong in 1951. The song had been published in 1950 and was recorded by Arthur Godfrey, The Three Suns with Texas Jim Robertson, and by the Johnny Guarnieri Quintet in 1950. None of these recordings charted.
The Crosby recording came about when the singer had Armstrong as a guest on his radio show which was being taped on April 19, 1951 for broadcast on April 25 that year. As was customary, the songs to be used in the broadcast were taped in advance as a back-up in case the live broadcast versions did not go well. The song was so well received that Decca Records decided to issue the pre-recording commercially and it charted briefly in June 1951 with a peak position of #19. Crosby used the song in his concert performances in 1976 singing it with comedian Ted Rogers. The duet with Louis Armstrong is still heard frequently on radio.
The song was later recorded by Pat Boone, Gene Autry and The Manhattan Transfer.Interstate 195 (Florida)
Interstate 195 (I-195) is a 4.4-mile-long (7.1 km) spur freeway connecting I-95 (its parent route) in the west with Miami Beach in the east. It crosses Biscayne Bay by traveling over the Julia Tuttle Causeway, named after Miami founder Julia Tuttle.
It is part of the longer State Road 112 (SR 112), which continues to the west as the Airport Expressway and to the east as Arthur Godfrey Road (41st Street).
As part of a pilot program, the Florida Department of Transportation has painted the shoulders as bike lanes east of US 1. Pedestrians are still prohibited.List of Billboard 200 number-one albums of 1953
These are the Billboard magazine number-one albums of 1953, per the Billboard 200.Schmitt Brothers
Schmitt Brothers was a Barbershop quartet from Two Rivers, Wisconsin that won the 1951 SPEBSQSA international competition. The quartet consisted of four brothers: Joe, Paul, Francis and Jim Schmitt. They participated in 110 performances during their championship year, including appearances on the Ed Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey television programs.After becoming active as teachers in district and international schools, the brothers received a reward for outstanding service to school music at the Wisconsin Music Educators Association Conference in 1980. The Schmitt Brothers Quartet performed together for 34 years, traveling more than three million miles and appearing in nearly 3,000 shows.Tag Taylor
Sir (Arthur) Godfrey Taylor DL (usually known as Tag Taylor) (August 3, 1925 - 31 May 2014) was a British local government leader best known for his work as Chairman of the London Residuary Body which disposed of the assets of the Greater London Council after its abolition.
Taylor was educated at Stockport Secondary School. He was first elected as a Conservative councillor to Sutton and Cheam Borough Council in 1951. In 1962 he was elected an Alderman, and he was elected for Cheam South ward to Sutton Borough Council from the creation of the council in 1964 until 1968. He was an Alderman of Sutton from 1968 until the abolition of the Aldermanic system in 1978. He then returned to his old ward for a final term from 1978 to 1982. Having previously served as Leader of Sutton Borough Council and Chairman of the London Boroughs Association (1968-1971), from 1978 to 1980 Taylor was Chairman of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, ending his term with a knighthood.The Conservative government appointed Taylor as Chairman of the Southern Water Authority in 1981 for a four-year term. As this term was coming to an end, he was picked to head up the London Residuary Body. His close connections with the Conservative Party were regarded with cynicism by opponents of the abolition of the GLC, which had been controlled by a left-wing Labour administration in its last five years. However, the LRB had very few powers beyond selling off and dismantling the GLC, and when he took charge he was not a prominent figure. The most controversial decision of the LRB, to sell off the GLC's offices at County Hall to a Japanese corporation rather than the London School of Economics, was taken when Taylor was very little known to the public.
Taylor was reappointed chairman several times. As the LRB progressively sold off assets, its work reduced and from December 1, 1992 his time commitment reduced from 5 days a week to one. He continued until the LRB had completed its work and was wound up in 1996. An academic study of its work, "The Dismantlers", gave general praise for the work it had done, but members of the old GLC regarded its purpose as being fundamentally destructive. Taylor became a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London in 1988, and was Chairman of the Shrievalty Association from 1995 to 1998.The Glass Bottom Boat
The Glass Bottom Boat is a 1966 American romantic comedy film directed by Frank Tashlin, starring Doris Day and Rod Taylor, with Arthur Godfrey, Dick Martin, Dom DeLuise and Paul Lynde. It is also known as The Spy in Lace Panties.The Great Man
The Great Man is a 1956 drama film directed by and starring José Ferrer. The screenplay was written by Ferrer and Al Morgan, Morgan's novel of the same name the source material. It was loosely based on the controversial career of Arthur Godfrey, a beloved TV and radio host whose image had been tarnished by a number of cast firings and Godfrey's contentious battles with the press.The Mariners (vocal group)
The Mariners were a pop and gospel vocal group of the mid 20th century, particularly noted for their work with Arthur Godfrey.
The Mariners were a four-piece all-male racially integrated group (two white and two African American members). They formed during World War II, in 1942, at Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn; the four members (Tom Lockard, Jim Lewis, Nat Dickerson and Martin Karl) were serving in the United States Coast Guard there. They toured Pacific military bases in 1945.Arthur Godfrey hired them, and they were regulars on his radio show and later his television shows for several years. The presence of the integrated Mariners brought complaints from Southern politicians and Southern CBS affiliates, which Godfrey publicly and scathingly rebuffed. Godfrey summarily fired The Mariners in 1955 (a fairly common modus for Godfrey during these years).
The Mariners then guested on other shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show and continued to record (on the Cadence Records label founded by Godfrey's musical director Archie Bleyer) and appear on New York radio, but with diminishing popularity.The Thing (song)
"The Thing" is a hit novelty song by Charles Randolph Grean which received much airplay in 1950. It is probably derived from the traditional Irish bawdy tavern song "The Chandler's Wife."
The song was recorded by Phil Harris on October 13, 1950, and released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-3968. The record first reached the Billboard charts on November 17, 1950. It lasted 14 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 1. The words were set to the English folk tune "The Lincolnshire Poacher".Other versions were recorded by Arthur Godfrey, Danny Kaye, Kidsongs, Ray Charles, Teresa Brewer, Adam West, and Australian orchestra leader Les Welch. The Arthur Godfrey recording was made in November 1950 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number 39068. The Danny Kaye recording was made on December 1, 1950, and released by Decca Records as catalog number 27350. The Ray Charles recording was made on July 13, 1963, and released by ABC-Paramount Records on the album Have a Smile with Me, as catalog number ABC 495 (mono) / ABCS 495 (stereo). The Teresa Brewer recording was made in October 1950, and released by London Records as catalog number 873. The Les Welch recording was made in January 1951 and released by Pacific Records, an Australian company, as catalog number 10-0051.WYRE (AM)
WYRE (810 AM) is a radio station that last broadcast Top 40 music. Licensed to Annapolis, Maryland, United States, it serves Annapolis and portions of the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC areas.
The station started out as WASL, then several years later switched call letters to WIPA as it programmed a steady diet of uninterrupted Arthur Godfrey-style ukulele music. Under Jacob Einstein's management tenure, the station switched calls again, to WABW (signalling their coverage of Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington). Still an also-ran in the market, it received somewhat of a bump when it debuted Tony Donald, formerly from cross-town rival WNAV. Donald later surfaced on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, Maryland, at WCEM.
In the sixties the station assumed its present call sign (WYRE) as a Top 40 station featuring air personalities Barry Richards (later to move to progressive music WHMC, Gaithersburg), Kirby Scott (in between stints at WSBA, York, PA and WCAO, Baltimore) and Jack Alix (previously of WEAM and WPGC).
On March 15, 2010, the station became part of the Top-40 KHZTV network with stations throughout Maryland including WAMD in Harford County and WKHZ in Easton.
On September 20, 2017, WYRE left the air due to a dispute with its landlord. The station filed for remain silent authority on January 11, 2018, which allows for up to six additional months of silence at the Federal Communications Commission's discretion. Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, WYRE's license will be deleted if it does not broadcast again by September 19, 2018.WYRE resumed broadcasting September 19th, 2018 relaying WRNR-FM.