Judy Canova (November 20, 1913–August 5, 1983), born Juliette Canova, was an American comedienne, actress, singer and radio personality. She appeared on Broadway and in films. She hosted her own network radio program, a popular series broadcast from 1943 to 1955.
Born in Starke, Florida to Joseph Francis Canova, a businessman, and Henrietta Perry, a singer, Judy Canova's show-business career began with a family vaudeville routine. She joined her sister Annie and brother Zeke, and their performances as the Three Georgia Crackers took them from theaters in Florida to a club in Manhattan, the Village Barn. Canova sang, yodeled and played guitar and was typed as a wide-eyed likable country bumpkin, often barefoot, and wearing her hair in braids, sometimes topped with a straw hat. She was sometimes introduced as The Ozark Nightingale, though she had no connection to the region.
When bandleader Rudy Vallée offered her a guest spot on his radio show in 1931, The Fleischmann Hour, it opened the door to a career that spanned more than five decades. The popularity of the Canova family led to numerous performances on radio in the 1930s, and they made their Broadway theater debut in the revue Calling All Stars. An offer from Warner Bros. led to several bit parts before she signed with Republic Pictures. She recorded for the RCA Victor label and appeared in more than two dozen Hollywood films, including Scatterbrain (1940), Joan of Ozark (1942) and Lay That Rifle Down (1955).
In 1943, she began her own radio program, The Judy Canova Show, that ran for 12 years—first on CBS and then on NBC. Playing herself as a love-starved Ozark bumpkin dividing her time between home and Southern California, Canova was accompanied by a cast that included voice master Mel Blanc as Pedro (using the accented voice he later gave the cartoons' Speedy Gonzales) and Sylvester (using the voice that later became associated with the Looney Tunes character), Ruth Perrott as Aunt Aggie, Ruby Dandridge as Geranium, Joseph Kearns as Benchley Botsford and Sharon Douglas as Brenda—with Gale Gordon, Sheldon Leonard and Hans Conried also making periodic appearances. The Sportsmen Quartet joined the show in 1943 and backed Judy on most of her songs, and the Charles Dant Orchestra provided the rest, usually supporting Canova's country warble. Western singer and actor Eddie Dean also appeared with Canova on numerous occasions during the 1930s.
During World War II, she closed her show with the song "Goodnight, Soldier" ("Wherever you may be... my heart's lonely... without you") and used her free time to sell U.S. War Bonds. Canova made frequent appearances on other popular radio programs of the day, including and especially those hosted by Abbott and Costello and Fred Allen.
By the time her radio program ended in 1955, Canova easily made a smooth transition to television with appearances on The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Steve Allen Show, Matinee Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and other shows. In 1967, she portrayed Mammy Yokum in an unsold TV pilot adapted from Al Capp's Li'l Abner. She also worked on Broadway and in Vegas nightclubs through the early 1970s, touring with No, No Nanette in 1971.
In 1983, Judy Canova died from cancer at age 69, and her ashes were interred in the secluded Columbarium of Everlasting Light section, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. Her ashes are among those of her siblings Anne (1901–1994), and Zeke Canova (1898–1980).
Canova is honored with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the film industry (6821 Hollywood Boulevard) and a second star for her radio career (6777 Hollywood Boulevard). (Info edited from Wikipedia)