Brasfield c. 1950
|Born||Rodney Leon Brasfield
August 22, 1910
Smithville, Mississippi, U.S.
|Died||September 12, 1958
Martin, Tennessee, U.S.
Cause of death
|Known for||Grand Ole Opry Member|
Rodney Leon Brasfield (August 22, 1910 – September 12, 1958) was an American comedian who was prominently featured on the Grand Ole Opry from 1947 until his death in 1958. In 1987, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Life and career
Brasfield was born in Smithville, Mississippi. He began his career in the late 1920s with Bisbee’s Dramatic Shows, a touring tent repertory troupe, serving as a straight man for his older brother, actor and comedian Boob Brasfield. In 1931 he married a Hohenwald, Tennessee school teacher, Eleanor Humphrey.
In 1944, Brasfield was recruited by George D. Hay for the Grand Ole Opry. With his trademark baggy suit, battered hat and rubbery face, he could make audiences laugh before he spoke a word. He soon became the primary comic on The Prince Albert Show, the Opry’s NBC Radio broadcast, playing off the show’s host, Red Foley. Assuming the role of a hapless hayseed, he often poked fun at country life—always with good humor.
In 1948, he began teaming with Minnie Pearl, playing what she referred to as "double comedy" in which each of them delivered alternating punch lines and neither played the straight man. Some of these routines were broadcast on the Opry's live ABC television network show from 1955–56. He lived in Hohenwald, called himself the Hoenwald Flash, and often mentioned the local restaurant (which he once owned), the Snip-Snap-and-Bite, in his routines. Brasfield sometimes did ventriloquist routines with a dummy named Bocephus, after whom Hank Williams, Sr. nicknamed his then-infant son Hank Williams, Jr.; and also did comedy with June Carter.
In March 1956, Brasfield appeared with Elvis Presley at Atlanta's Fox Theatre. In 1957, he played Andy Griffith’s sidekick in A Face in the Crowd; and appeared in Country Music Holiday the same year. Heart failure combined with an ongoing problem with alcohol led to his death at age 48 in 1958 in Martin, Tennessee. He is buried in Smithville.