Ken Murray (entertainer)
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July 14, 1903
New York City, U.S.
|Died||October 12, 1988
Burbank, California, U.S.
Betty Lou Murray
Ken Murray (July 14, 1903 – October 12, 1988) was an American entertainer and author.
Murray was born Kenneth Doncourt in New York City to a family of vaudeville performers. According to Murray's autobiography (Life on a Pogo Stick), he changed his name because he did not want to ride the coattails of his father's success; he wanted to make a name for himself. Many sources inaccurately list Murray's birth name as "Don Court."
He became famous for his "Blackouts" a stage variety show, featuring Marie Wilson and Darla Hood (among others) at the El Capitan Theatre on Vine Street in Hollywood. The Blackouts played to "standing room only" audiences for almost nine years. In 1949, the show moved to Broadway with Marie Windsor replacing Marie Wilson. It received devastating reviews and closed after six weeks. He was also known for his home movies of celebrities, which he showcased on several TV specials and variety shows.
During World War II, he was one of the many celebrities to volunteer at the Hollywood Canteen. He later was the original host (1945–57) of Queen for a Day, on the Mutual Broadcasting System radio broadcast, which was simulcast on KTSL (now KCBS-TV), Channel 2 in Los Angeles. In 1947, he produced Bill and Coo, a feature film cleverly using trained birds and other animals as actors. He was also the host of The Ken Murray Show, a weekly music and comedy show on CBS Television that ran between 1950 and 1953.
Murray filmed Hollywood celebrities and collected them in compilation films such as Hollywood Without Make-Up (1963). In the early 1960s, his short films were used to fill time when network movies ran short of the hour.
He was also the author of a number of books, including his own story published in 1960 and the only complete life story in print of Broadway theatre impresario Earl Carroll. On December 6, 1956, Murray guest starred on NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. He also appeared in an episode of the ABC sitcom The Bing Crosby Show (1964–1965) and in the Walt Disney film Follow Me, Boys! (1966).
- Leathernecking (1930)
- You're a Sweetheart (1937)
- Bill and Coo (1947)
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
- Hollywood Without Make-Up (1963)
- Hollywood, My Home Town (1965)
- Follow Me, Boys! (1966)
- Ken Murray's Shooting Stars (1979)
- The Body Merchant: The Story of Earl Carroll (1976)
- The Golden Days of San Simeon (1971)
- Life on a Pogo Stick: Autobiography of a Comedian (1960)
- Ken Murray's Giant Joke Book (1954)
- Hellions' Hole (1953)
- Hellion's Hole / Feud In Piney Flats (1953)
- Ken Murray's "Blackouts of 1947" (1947)
- Ken Murray's" Blackouts of 1943" (1943)
- Foolin' Around (1932)
- McQuiston, John, The New York Times. "Ken Murray, 85, Vaudeville Star Who Later Recorded Hollywood", 13/10/1988