Stan Kann (December 9, 1924 – September 29, 2008) received national recognition in the 1960s when he was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show and daytime television talk shows, showcasing his collection of vacuum cleaners. Kann also was known among theatre organ aficionados for his 22-year tenure as resident organist at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri.
Kann, a native of St. Louis, began playing the organ at age 4. He majored in classical organ at Washington University in St. Louis. In the late 40's, he convinced the management of the Fox Theatre in St Louis to allow him to refurbish the 4-36 Fox Special Wurlitzer which had lain idle for twenty years and became official house organist in 1952. Kann served as the theater's resident organist until 1974, four years before the Fox closed. In 1956, Kann installed a Wurlitzer in the famous St. Louis restaurant "Ruggeri's On The Hill" later owned by Stan Musial and played there regularly until 1974. His Saturday evening performances at Ruggeri's were broadcast on the NBC Network from 1964 to 1974.
Talk show guest
Kann's first appearance on The Tonight Show was June 8, 1966. He had been booked to discuss some of the prized carpet sweepers from his 150-item collection."I planned on showing the vacuums as a kind of historical demonstration. I had no idea what it would turn into," Kann told a reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Once Kann began demonstrating the sweepers on air, parts began to fall off the vacuum cleaners at inopportune moments. Tonight Show host Johnny Carson saved the situation with humorous ad libs, and Kann was invited to make 76 additional appearances on The Tonight Show. Kann had been introduced to Carson through Phyllis Diller. He met Diller when she made a guest appearance on The Charlotte Peters Show, a local St. Louis television program. Kann served as musical director and co-host on the show, and Diller was impressed by Kann's wit. "When she saw my vacuum (collection) she said, 'I'm going to call the Carson show, cause you're nuts,'" Kann said in an Associated Press interview.
Kann became interested in vacuum cleaners at age 8. His interest primarily stemmed from the fact that his parents couldn't afford to buy one. Kann developed the ability to distinguish different models of vacuum cleaners by sound. If, while walking down the street, he heard a cleaner he didn't recognize, he had no qualms about knocking on the door and asking to see the sweeper. "Sometimes they'd say yes, and sometimes they'd say no," Kann told the Post-Dispatch interviewer. He briefly worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman in high school. Kann moved from Missouri to Los Angeles in 1975, but returned to St. Louis in 1998 for hip replacement surgery.
- The Pipes Of Stan – Norman Records – LP catalog # NS 213 – 1966
- Stan Kann In St Louis – Malar Productions – LP catalog # MAS 2018 – 1972
- Anything Goes – Piping Hot Productions – CD catalog # 1001 – 1996
- Pipe Organ Extravaganza 2 – Rialto Square Theatre – CD catalog # N/A – 1997
- Stan Kann At Dickenson – Dickenson Theatre Organ Society – CD catalog # 121 – 2001
- Meet Me At The Fox – Kann Productions – CD catalog # N/A – 2003
- Pipes And Power – Kann Productions – CD catalog # N/A
- Christmas With Stan Kann – Kann Productions – cassette catalog # N/A
- Thurber, Jon (2008-10-04). "Stan Kann dies at 83; organist got swept up in a vacuum cleaner fixation". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
- Bickel, Vernon P. (2000, July/August). The Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis: Celebrating Over 70 Glorious Years. Theatre Organ Magazine 
- Stan Kann's web site
- on YouTube Video of the Fox Theater organ and Stan Kann assembled by local PBS station KETC
- on YouTube Video of Stan Kann & His Vacuum Collection