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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Arthur Godfrey born 31 August 1903

Arthur Morton Leo 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. He was strongly identified with one of his sponsors, Lipton Tea.

Running away from home at the age of 15, Arthur Godfrey held down scores of short-term jobs, sleeping on park benches whenever funds ran low. Despite his itinerant lifestyle, Godfrey was
extremely ambitious, gleaning his formal education from the International Correspondence School and twice attempting to launch a naval career. Along the way, he discovered that he had aninnate skill for self-promotion and salesmanship, a combination that enabled him to tour as a vaudeville musician despite a minimum of musical talent.

In 1929, "Red Godfrey, the Warbling Banjoist" went to work for a Baltimore radio station WFBR. This led to a better job at NBC's Washington, D.C. affiliate, thence to a disc jockey at CBS' Washington outlet. Eschewing the declamatory style prevalent among radio pitchmen, Godfrey adopted what he called the "one guy" approach, delivering commercials, introducing songs, and casually dispensing small talk as if talking to one person rather than thousands.

In the early '40s, he gained nationwide popularity as a staff
announcer at CBS, briefly serving as announcer for Fred Allen's show. His career turning point came with his emotional coverage of President Roosevelt's funeral in 1945, which attracted the attention of network bigwigs and resulted in his own coast-to-coast morning program. Immediately winning a huge audience with his calm, straightforward style, Godfrey used his program to introduce a whole slew of talented newcomers, which he dubbed "the Little Godfreys." At one time or another, his staff of regulars included Julius LaRosa, Marion Marlowe, the McGuire Sisters, Pat Boone, Anita Bryant, announcer Tony Marvin (who stayed with him the longest), and orchestra leader Archie Bleyer. In addition to his morning show, he also hosted Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts; and in 1949, he moved into television, gaining ever greater success. 


At one point, it was estimated that Godfrey's programs generated 12 percent of CBS' TV revenues, making him one of the most powerful men in show business. As his influence grew, so did his ego; he held court over his "Little Godfreys" like a banana republic dictator, and made grandiose, arbitrary demands upon his home

network. Publicly the soul of affability, the private Godfrey was a volatile, unpredictably temperamental man, forever reminding his minions, "I made you all and I can break you at any time."

On October 19, 1953, Godfrey's huge radio and TV audience received its first real evidence of their idol's despotism when he fired singer Julius LaRosa on the air. As other members of the Godfrey entourage got the ax over the next few years, his disillusioned audience began to dwindle. Further nails in his coffin came with two à clef films inspired by the Godfrey phenomenon, The Great Man (1956) and A Face in the Crowd, both of which centered around powerful media icons with
feet of clay. Godfrey's popularity enjoyed a short resurgence in 1959 when he survived a delicate operation for lung cancer, but public sympathy can sustain acareer only so long. By 1960 he was completely off television save for a hosting job on Allen Funt's Candid Camera. Making his screen debut with a guest spot in 1963's Four for Texas, he played his first full-fledged screen role in The Glass-Bottom Boat (1966), playing Doris Day's father.

On April 30, 1972, 27 years to the day after its debut, Godfrey's daily radio program was canceled by mutual agreement between the star and his network. He continued appearing on TV as a commercial spokesman, earning a short flurry of press coverage
when he broke his contract with the Axion company because he felt that the product was a pollutant. He made several attempts in the 1970s at a TV comeback, but was never able to achieve that goal, partly because he was incapable of compromising his own values, and partly because he'd made too many enemies over the years.

When Arthur Godfrey died in 1983, his obituary, which once upon a time might have been a headline story, was tucked away in the back pages -- an ignominious finale for a man who, for better or worse, was a true television giant. (Info ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide)

 N.B. I spotted a posting about Arthur Godfrey on one of my favourite blogs "A Trip Down memory Lane"

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For many mp3's of Arthur Godfrey & friends go here:

For Arthur's LP Christmas is For Children go here;

1. Christmas Is For Children
2. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
3. Frosty The Snow Man
4. A Holly Jolly Christmas
5. Medley: Jingle Bells; Jolly Old St. Nicolas; Up On The Housetop; We Wish You A Merry Christmas
6. All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)
7. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town*
8. Suzy Snowflake
9. The Twelve Days Of Christmas
10. 'Twas The Night Before Christmas