Lanson circa 1940s
March 27, 1914
|Died||July 2, 1990
New York City
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Lanson was a band singer with Francis Craig's dance band in the late 1930s. He became a singing star when major bandleader Ray Noble hired him as his orchestra's "boy singer"; Noble and Lanson appear together in three Soundies musical films produced in 1941. Lanson made additional Soundies as a solo artist in 1944.
NBC's popular Your Hit Parade radio programs featured Frank Sinatra, who left the series in 1950. Snooky Lanson was chosen to replace him, and Lanson became one of America's first TV stars when Your Hit Parade came to television in July 1950. Lanson remained with the series through 1957. Floor manager Fred Rogers said that Lanson often played craps behind the set with the stagehands until it was his turn to perform.
After Hit Parade ended, he performed in nightclubs and on local television shows in Atlanta and Shreveport. He guest-starred in 1958 on The Gisele MacKenzie Show, MacKenzie having been a co-star with Lanson on Hit Parade. In 1961, he was one of five rotating hosts on the NBC-TV program Five Star Jubilee.
In January 1960, Crossroads TV Productions videotaped a pilot in Springfield, Missouri for a proposed pop music-variety series called Snooky Lanson Time. Guests were Brenda Lee, the Anita Kerr Singers, Betty Ann Grove and Paul Mitchell's instrumental combo. From 1967 on he lived in Nashville, where he sang at tea dances and similar functions, had a syndicated radio show that played big-band music, and sold cars and outdoor advertising. He reunited with his Your Hit Parade co-stars for five episodes of the Family Feud game show.
- "Plan New TV Series for Lanson" (January 25, 1960), The Billboard, p. 12
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