ken curtis singing with tommy dorsey
The producers took full advantage of his experiences and had Festus sing at some pretty powerful moments. “One day Hunter and I got to kidding,” said Curtis, “and I started talking in my dry land dialect.” (He explained that’s the way people talk in the area around Curtis’ hometown of Lamar, Colorado. And there's photos and info on the memorial statue of Ken/Festus in Clovis, California which was crafted by local artist Sam Hutchings: http://www.eviltwin.velvetsofa.com/Curtis/main.html. Some of his songs included ″Love Sends a Little Gift of Roses,″ ″This Is Worth Fighting For″ and ″Breathless.″, After serving in the Army during World War II, Curtis resumed a singing career on Johnny Mercer’s radio show and recorded the popular ″Tumbling Tumbleweeds.″. He spent much of his childhood on a ranch on Muddy Creek, Colorado. Curtis also campaigned for Ronald Reagan in 1976, during the future President's attempt to secure the Republican nomination from incumbent Gerald Ford. Curtis brief time with Dorsey was mentioned in the November 26, 1941 issue of Variety: "Ken Curtis, singer, who recently made couple sides with Tommy Dorsey in place of Frank Sinatra, replaces Pat Foy with Shep Fields' band." Now I’m used to it. He voiced Nutsy the vulture in Disney's 1973 animated film Robin Hood. Curtis married Torrie Connelly in 1966. Roberts″ and ″Cheyenne Autumn.″ He also had roles in TV’s ″Rawhide,″ ″Perry Mason″ and ″Have Gun, Will Travel.″. Through his second marriage, Curtis was a son-in-law of film director John Ford. “Sometimes I think I got the role because I’ve got the mangiest beard in Hollywood. In 1964, Curtis appeared as muleskinner Graydon in the episode "Graydon's Charge" of the syndicated Western television series, Death Valley Days, also guest-starring Denver Pyle and Cathy Lewis. [2], He attended Colorado College to study medicine, but left after a short time to pursue his musical career.[3]. The official website for James Arness of movie and GUNSMOKE fame is at: http://www.jamesarness.com/, R. J. This comes from Curtis’s own experience as a singer. Curtis guest-starred five times on the Western television series Have Gun – Will Travel with Richard Boone. So he went to Hollywood where he tried to sell his songs. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Learn how and when to remove this template message, "Ken Curtis, actor, 74, Festus on 'Gunsmoke, "Ken Curtis appeared in a number of cheesy movies,", Michael Breid shares memories of being part of Ken Curtis' backup band for his stage show during the 1970s, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ken_Curtis&oldid=985789914, High school football players in the United States, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles needing additional references from April 2015, All articles needing additional references, Wikipedia articles with BIBSYS identifiers, Wikipedia articles with MusicBrainz identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 27 October 2020, at 23:39. There, he actually succeeded Frank Sinatra himself until Dick Haymes came along on official grounds. This man had bet that Festus Haggen was really comedian Howard Morris. Curtis replaced Frank Sinatra on Tommy Dorsey’s band after Sinatra left to become a solo artist. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. ), “Director John Ford overheard me and asked me to talk that way in the movie. Curtis, whose real name was Curtis Gates, was born in Lamar, Colo. He was the son of a sheriff and worked on a jail farm as a boy. I was reminded of this recently when I re-read a story about my phone interview with actor Ken Curtis in 1964. [3][6], A statue of Ken Curtis as Festus can be found at 430 Pollasky Avenue in Clovis, California, in Fresno County in front of the Educational Employees Credit Union. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Curtis was a singer before moving into acting, and combined both careers once he entered films. Although I usually include just one video with each post, a while back I featured one with several videos because I wanted to show the arc of a performer’s career. In 1981, Curtis was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The BMI Music site has a listing of BMI licensed songs composed by Curtis. Curtis also remained with Dorsey,, but only for three months during which he sang with Dorsey’s Hawaiian jazz group. [4] Curtis was with the Tommy Dorsey band in 1941, and succeeded Frank Sinatra as vocalist until Dick Haymes contractually replaced Sinatra in 1942. November 1, 2020, 9:00 pm. ( Log Out /  His first job was as a staff vocalist for NBC radio. The only drawback, said Curtis, is that he has to keep his beard. He made his Hollywood debut in 1938 as a singer with swing bands. He then went on to Shep Field’s Orchestra. But I really got interested in sky diving and if I were younger (he’s 48), I’d take it up as a hobby.”. Now using the name Ken Curtis, he didn’t last long — Dick Haymes eventually replaced Sinatra for good — but the exposure was important, and Curtis soon latched on to a regular job with bandleader Shep Fields. Go the BMI homepage at: http://repertoire.bmi.com/StartPage.aspx. Curtis died on April 28, 1991, in his sleep of a heart attack in Fresno, California. In two episodes of Gunsmoke, Carroll O'Connor was a guest-star; years later, Curtis guest-starred as a retired police detective on O'Connor's NBC program In the Heat of the Night. “Larry and I did some skydiving before we started the series just so we’d be able to understand what it was all about. Now using the name Ken Curtis, he didn’t last long — Dick Haymes eventually replaced Sinatra for good — but the exposure was important, and Curtis soon latched on to a regular job with bandleader Shep Fields. “None of our jumps was ever filmed, of course. Curtis was with the Tommy Dorsey band in 1941, and succeeded Frank Sinatra as vocalist until … With the Sons of Pioneers, Curtis got to be the lead singer. Turned out Stone was a special favorite of her parents, which made the actor one of her idols, and she was reduced to tears. At first I felt grubby. YouTube has a video of Curtis singing with the Shep Fields band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzVj6crkpl4. This proved rather fruitful for Curtis when, in 1941, he joined the Tommy Dorsey band. Columbia Pictures signed Curtis to a contract in 1945. Of course, I said yes ... and that brought about another telephone call, this one from the two-faced Curtis. His version of “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” attracted the attention of Columbia Studios and soon Curtis began an acting career. Later, he appeared in Ripcord, a first-run syndicated action/adventure show about a company providing skydiving services, along with its leading star Larry Pennell. 'Gunsmoke' Star Ken Curtis Had a Prior Career in Country Music In the early 1950s his movie career got even better — possibly helped along by his new father-in-law, legendary director John Ford — but he seemed to still find lots of opportunities to sing in his various roles. Although his progress was interrupted by his wartime service, Curtis spent much of the 1940s building a career that included a number of activities, including radio work and lots of film appearances in singing cowboy roles. Vintage Writing Instruments – My Favorites, Dick Stabile's grandson visits. by Curtis teamed with Ford and John Wayne in Rio Grande. So, even outside the cast of Gunsmoke, he got to show off his melodious cords plenty of times. ( Log Out /  [7], Curtis was a Republican and supported Barry Goldwater in the 1964 United States presidential election.[8]. They also appeared in a few John Ford films, and in 1952 Curtis established a special relationship with the famous director when he married Ford’s daughter, Barbara. “Honestly,” he said, “I had never thought of acting until Columbia called me.”. “There’s too much sameness to a leading man. (“Gunsmoke” had been a radio series for many years. Although he appeared on Gunsmoke earlier in other roles, he was first cast as Festus in season 8 episode 13, December 8, 1962 "Us Haggens". Curtis' last acting role was as the aging cattle rancher "Seaborn Tay" in the television production Conagher (1991), by western author Louis L'Amour. Which Movie Did Elvis Presley Not Actually Sing In? Typically, that involved a wide range of acting and emotions, but with Curtis, Festus actually got to sing quite a bit – and he did a good job too. The jail is located for historical preservation purposes on the grounds of the Bent County Courthouse in Las Animas. She didn’t believe me at first, but I soon managed to convince her. Stone retired when "Gunsmoke" went off the air in 1975, and died five years later in San Diego. He was featured in all three of the only films produced by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney's C. V. Whitney Pictures: The Searchers (1956); The Missouri Traveler (1958) with Brandon deWilde and Lee Marvin; and The Young Land (1959) with Patrick Wayne and Dennis Hopper. Connect with the definitive source for global and local news. Curtis, who played deputy Festus Haggin from 1963-75, died in his sleep Sunday at his home here, family members said Monday. ). Ken Griffis' reference book on the Sons of the Pioneers, Hear My Song: The Story of the Celebrated Sons of the Pioneers, mentions: that Dorsey was the one who suggested the name change from Curtis Wain (not Wayne) Gates to Ken Curtis; and he joined the Sons of the Pioneers singing group in 1949 and was with them through 1953 (and he continued to record with the SOP through 1957). Curtis died in 1991, suffering a heart attack while he slept. While Marshal Matt Dillon had a total of five deputies over two decades, Festus held the role the longest (11 years), in 304 episodes. In total, he performed three songs that episode. He also sang with the Sons Of The Pioneers, a partnership he’d revisit through the years. Some actors, even those who had been in Hollywood for many years, found their best roles in television. For a while he was a recurring character (who sometimes sang) on Have Gun Will Travel, and he even had his own show, Ripcord, but his biggest fame came as the unforgettable Festus on Gunsmoke, and he sang in a surprising number of episodes. When a Gunsmoke viewer thinks about Festus, they may recall his ongoing banter with Dr. Galen Adams, or just Doc. She died in 1937. When Curtis quit he took a job with Shep Fields’ all-reed band. His next appearance was Season 9, episode 2, October 5, 1963 as Kyle Kelly, in "Lover Boy". A lady called the Beacon Journal a few weeks ago to ask if the man who plays bristly Festus Haggen on “Gunsmoke” is the father of the actor who plays good guy Jim Buckley on the syndicated “Ripcord” series. He and his family lived below a jail and cooked meals for prisoners. When his college years came, Ken Curtis fully intended on pursuing medicine, but actually stopped to pursue music and singing. He then went on to Shep Field’s Orchestra. Growing up in Colorado as the son of a sheriff probably meant that young Curtis Wain Gates was exposed to a lot of cowboys, but every member of his family was musically inclined and he fit right in. Curtis was the quarterback of his Bent County High School football team and played clarinet in the school band. They were married until his death in 1991 and he had two step-children. Dana Daly ( Log Out /  After scuffling for a few years, he managed to land a temporary job filling in for Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey’s band. The date of his birth: May 4, 1904.). We left that to the experts. Curtis starred in one 12-episode serial for Republic Pictures, as the title character in “Don Daredevil Rides Again.”). The campaign was successful, and Gates served from 1927 to 1931 as Bent County sheriff. Curtis may have served simply as insurance against Sinatra's likely defection, and it was Dorsey who suggested that Gates change his name to Ken Curtis.

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