Sunday, June 30, 2013

June, 30: Happy Birthday, Lena Horne

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born June 30, 1917. This versatile lady would grown to become an inspiring actress, singer, dancer and involved in civil rights. This descendant of notable early American colonists, John C Calhoun; Lena Horne spent a very uninspired childhood shuffling from grandparents to mother to an uncle growing up. Her mother was involved in a roving black troupe and that had an early impact on Horne’s desire to entertain.

By 1933, Ms Horne became a part of the Cotton Club in NYC. She later became a part of Noble Sissle’s Orchestra, with whom she made her first recording with Decca Records. She then became the main vocalist for the The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street with NBC. during the 30’s and into the 40’s she made a few low-budget films. In 1944, Lena was featured in the radio mystery program Suspense, which featured her singing and acting as a nightclub performer. Also during the period of WWII, Lena Horne could be heard singing on radio programs like, Command Performance, Mail Call and G.I. Journal.

These on-air programs were major hits with the servicemen overseas. By the 1950’s and into the early 90’s, Ms. Horne would be seen on television programs with the likes of Bill Cosby and Frank Sinatra. She was very involved with civil rights issues that affected African-Americans. Lena Horne was married twice and had a son (passed away of kidney disease) and a daughter, Gail, that became a noted author. Lena Horne left this earth in 2010 after a heart attack. The Grammy award winning singer and actress had finally gone home.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June, 29: Happy Birthday, Joan Davis

When Joan Davis was born on June 29, 1907, America was blessed with talent that would encompass all avenues of entertainment. This young comedian was going to make her mark on television, radio, vaudeville and in the movies...not in necessarily in that order. he first arena for performing was in vaudeville with her comedian husband Si Willis.

One of her enterprising talents was that of a physical comedian; her size and lanky build was suited for the making the slapstick variety of visual humor. In 1941, Joan Davis entered the radio arena by appearing on the Rudy Vallee Show, where she would become a regular a few months later.

When Vallee left to serve during WWII in 1943, Davis and Jack Haley became co-hosts of the program, The Sealtest Village Store. In 1945 she moved over to CBS and did a radio program centered around owning a tea room. In 1947, the show changed placing her name on the title still with the focus of the tea room and the happenings in Smallville, running until 1948. By July of that same year, Leave it to Joan ran in place of Lux Radio Theatre for the summer.

In August 1949 the program became a yearly diet for america with its run until March of 1950. Her physical comedy was played up on the radio and developed her prowess for that type of comedy. it worked for when NBC took her on television opposite of Jim Backus with I Married Joan. It ran until 1955. In 1961, MS Davis passed away at the age of 53 in Palm Springs, California. Comediennes like Lucille Ball and Eve Arden owe much of their success to the talents pioneered by Joan Davis.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26, 1933: The Kraft Music First Broadcast

 
June 26, 1933: Famous variety program The Kraft Music Hall went on air for first time.

The Kraft Music Hall was a musical-variety program featuring orchestra leader Paul Whiteman and sponsored by  Kraft products. The show changed the name several times, until it finally settled on Kraft Music Hall in 1934. Paul Whiteman remained as the host until December 6, 1935. Paul Whiteman also popular as  "The King of Jazz". He was the pioneer jazz musician at that time.