|Yogi Yorgesson |
October 21, 1908
|Died||May 20, 1956
|Occupation||comedian, singer, songwriter|
Harry Stewart was born in Tacoma, Washington to Hans Skarbo, an immigrant from Norway, and his wife Elise. After the death of his mother he was adopted by the Stewart family. Growing up in the Proctor District, he attended Washington Grade School and Stadium High School in Tacoma.
In 1927 Stewart worked as an announcer, weather reporter, newsman and banjo player on KVI, a radio station that had recently started in Tacoma. Stewart developed the character of Yogi Yorgesson while appearing on the Al Pearce radio show from 1934 to 1937. He then began performing a comedy routine as Yogi in nightclubs. Yogi was originally a Hindu mystic from Stockholm, but in time his crystal ball act was abandoned in favor of more homespun humor.
Stewart debuted as a singer in 1948 when he released two songs as Yogi Yorgesson. These proved to be so successful that Capitol Records purchased the rights to his recordings. He continued on that label for the rest of his career. From 1948 through 1956 Stewart recorded over forty songs as Yogi Yorgesson. Beginning in 1953 he adopted other comic personas for some of his releases: Japanese (Harry Kari), country bumpkin (Claude Hopper) and German (Klaus Hammerschmidt).
Harry Stewart was killed in an automobile accident in 1956 while returning to Los Angeles from an appearance in Ely, Nevada. He was survived by his wife Gretchen, son Steven and stepdaughter Eleanor.
In 1949 Capitol Records released "I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas" and "Yingle Bells," a single by Yogi Yorgesson with the Johnny Duffy Trio. This record was the most popular of Stewart’s career, selling over one million copies and earning a gold disc. The two songs have for many years been holiday favorites on the Dr. Demento show.
Stan Boreson and Doug Setterberg recorded eighteen songs written by Harry Stewart and thereby introduced Yogi Yorgesson to a new generation of fans. Five of his songs appeared on their album Honey / Little Green Apples (1969) and another five on Yust Go Nuts At Christmas (1971). Boreson also recorded the 1980 tribute album Yust Tinkin' Of Yogi with eleven more songs by Stewart.
More than a half century after his death, Stewart's recordings are still sold by vintage music stores and online retailers. They can also be found at video-sharing websites and other digital archives.
- 1952 Yogi Yorgesson's Family Album LP
- 1953 The Trials and Tribulations of Yogi Yorgesson EP
- 1954 Yingle Bells EP
- 1957 Comedy Caravan LP
- 1961 The Great Comedy Hits of Harry Stewart LP
- 1991 Have Yourself A Crazy Little Christmas CD
- 2009 Comedy Caravan (iTunes)
- Harry Stewart biography digitaldeliftp.com. Retrieved: November 14, 2013.
- Minneapolis Tribune, “After Last Night” by Will Jones, April 18, 1950.
- The Capitol Label Discography by Michel Ruppli; William R Daniels; Ed Novitsky, (Almere, The Netherlands: Names & Numbers, 2007).
- Minneapolis Star May 21, 1956.
- The Book of Golden Discs by Joseph Murrells, (London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd., 1978), p.49, ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Stan Boreson stanboreson.com. Retrieved: November 14, 2013.
- Yogi Yorgesson youtube.com. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
Streaming audio at the Internet Archive
- Slim Jim sings Harry Stewart songs
- Vintage Scandinavian-American humor
- Yogi Yorgesson, Harry Kari and Klaus Hammerschmidt