Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7, 1948: The Big Band Star-Maker

 December 7, 1948: Horace Heidt Youth Opportunity Program was launched on NBC. Dick Contino, an accordionist, became the first winner of the $5,000 prize on the talent show. The program proved to be a launching pad for many famous actors, including Art Carney, Al Hirt, Frankie Carle, Alvino Rey, Gordon MacRae, the King Sisters, Ken Berry, Dick Contino, Fred Lowrey, Ronnie Kemper, Frank DeVol, Larry Cotton, Donna and her Don Juans, Ollie O'Toole, and many more.

Known as one of the first reality talent searches, this youth opportunity program was hosted by the most celebrated master of ceremonies in his time - the master showman, Horace Heidt.

According to Heidt, the show was intended not only to showcase talents, but to also level the door of opportunity to any person who wanted to try and explore their talents and improve their skills.

Other than this televised talent search, Heidt was also able to search for aspiring musicians by building Musical Knights.

Such achievements garnered Heidt not one but two star awards: the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, and also the title of being the big-band star maker.

The said legacy was passed to his son, Horace Heidt Jr.

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