Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Kate Smith was born May 1, 1907, in Greenville, Virginia. It was a poduck town then as it is now. She went from there to being called “The First Lady of Radio. By the New York times. Just to get a hint of her massive appeal, remember during WWII, her on-air appeals for war bonds topped $600 million. [$7,984,257,195 in todays dollars.] Kanye west couldn't get that much even when he sang "George Bush don't like black people" in a Katrina victims fund raiser...

She began in vaudeville as many radio people did in that era. But unlike the others, she moved on to Broadway. It was there she got the attention of Columbia Records vice president Ted Collins who decided to put her on the radio. “The Songbird of the South” made her broadcast debut in 1931.

During the 1930s, she became radio’s number one attraction, due not only to her evening show, but also to her appearances on Kate Smith Speaks, a popular weekday show where she offered homespun advice on current topics. It proved so popular that NBC gave her a prime-time show on Wednesday evenings, The Kate Smith Evening Hour.

In 1938, she introduced Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” in the film This is the Army. It became so popular it was followed by another 2,000 recordings. among her biggest hits were River, Stay 'Way From My Door (1931), The Woodpecker Song (1940), The White Cliffs of Dover (1941), I Don't Want to Walk Without You (1942), There Goes That Song Again (1944), Seems Like Old Times (1946), and Now Is the Hour (1947). About 20 of those managed to sell a million copies EACH! She switched to LPs in the sixties and released five between 1963 and 1967.

Her popularity ran so deep, that even at the age of 65 while television was entering it's golden era she got her own show. Her last TV series was CBS's The Kate Smith Show, a weekly half-hour musical series in 1960. Her guest appearances put Oprah to shame. She made appearances on top TV shows, such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The Jack Paar Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Smith’s final radio program aired on the Mutual Network in 1958. She died in Raleigh, NC, June 17, 1986.