Arthur Godfrey
American television actor
Arthur Godfrey
Arthur Morton Godfrey was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead.
Arthur Godfrey's personal information overview.
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Bob Merrill: The Music That Made Him -
Google News - over 5 years
Eileen Barton ("If I Knew You Were Comin', I'd've Baked a Cake"), Arthur Godfrey ("Candy and Cake"), Jimmie Rodgers ("Honeycomb"), Sarah Vaughan ("Make Yourself Comfortable"), Guy Mitchell ("My Truly, Truly Fair," "She Wears Red Feathers and a Huly
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In Another Time > Local concern for oil pollution came early - Shore News Today
Google News - over 5 years
Wildwood Crest got into the act, too, and one of its colorful guards was Warren Malkin who was nicknamed “Arthur Godfrey of the Patrol” and accompanied singing lifeguards on the ukulele as they entertained on rainy days. Some of the Wildwood guards
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Pittsburgh Soaring Club finds thrill in challenge of maneuvering gliders - Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Google News - over 5 years
He sponsored his children's flights and encouraged their radio and TV appearances like the cameo on Arthur Godfrey's show. As he grew up, Mr. Bennett went on flying in one way or another, never quite making a career of it. In 1972, he learned to fly
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Whisenhunt Center to Host Legendary Blackwood Quartet - Longview News-Journal
Google News - over 5 years
In 1954, they appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts on CBS. They won first place and received a recording contract with RCA. They became the first gospel group to sell a million records. On June 30, 1954, the quartet loss two of it's own as RW
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Bill Jacobson, Comedy Writer From TV's Golden Era, Dies at 91 - Hollywood Reporter
Google News - over 5 years
Bill Jacobson, a comedy writer who worked for such performers as Ed Wynn, Eddie Cantor, Pat Boone, Patti Page, Red Buttons, Maurice Chevalier, Victor Borge and Arthur Godfrey, died July 19 in Encinitas, Calif., after a long illness. He was 91
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Most online penny auctions just don't make any sense -
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Arthur Godfrey of Kissimmee, Fla., was on Facebook recently when he spotted an ad offering “10 Free Bids” on, a new penny auction site based in Orlando. As part of the registration process, he needed to provide a credit card number
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Aviation Club Secures a Home on Park Avenue, in a Space With Significance
NYTimes - over 5 years
In the 1950s, when commercial aviation was growing and space travel captured the American imagination, the Wings Club of New York settled into a first-class home. Over the next several decades, it was a congenial gathering spot for aviators, celebrities and even presidents. Candles glowed on birthday cakes sometimes delivered by beautiful flight
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Patsy Cline's Home In Virginia Restored -
Google News - over 5 years
Patsy lived in the home from 1948-1957, during which time she signed her first record deal, won Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television competition and made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry. In previous years, fans have visited the drug store where
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A Songwriter's Legacy: Baseball Ditties, From Mickey to the Mets
NYTimes - over 5 years
Ruth Roberts's songs were recorded by Arthur Godfrey, Dean Martin, Patti Page, Debbie Reynolds, Jimmy Dean and the Beatles. But even if Mets fans do not remember her as they do Marv Throneberry, they know the song she wrote (with Bill Katz): ''Meet the Mets,'' the team's bouncy theme ditty since 1963. Roberts, who died June 30, wrote a trilogy of
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Incredible success and the end of an era - News Chief
Google News - over 5 years
Arthur Godfrey, a morning show host of WWII fame was one of the first television programs to originate from Cypress Gardens. The park's exposure continued to grow through such network exposure as Ed Sullivan, Mike Douglas, Garry Moore and late night
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Jake Shimabukuro at The Egg, 7/8/11 - Albany Times Union (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
But if this conjures up images of Don Ho, Arthur Godfrey or Tiny Tim, think again. These days pop-star hitmakers like Paul McCartney, Train and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder are plunking away on the tiny little four-stringed instrument, and the uke is
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On This Day in History: July 8 Better'n Elvis? The US Army Thought So - Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Google News - over 5 years
After failing two auditions for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts on TV, Steve not only managed to appear on the program but won top honors with his singing of the hit song “Domino.” The prize consisted of a week's appearances on Arthur Godfrey's morning
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Chatting with local TV legend Virginia Atter Keys is like hanging out with ... - Florida Times-Union
Google News - over 5 years
"That was the song I sang on 'The Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts,'" she told me when she had finished singing. "And I won." How could she have lost? Even though she retired in the '80s, her voice was as pure as ever, and as I listened to her,
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The Jumping Flea Blues -
Google News - over 5 years
As technology advanced, it was popular entertainer Arthur Godfrey, with his many television and radio programs, who led the mid-century boom in the ukulele's popularity. As Lyle Ritz, the “father of ukulele jazz,” said in a 2007 interview with NPR,
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The Eulogizer: Pop song composer Ruth Roberts - Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Google News - over 5 years
Other artists of that era who recorded Roberts' songs were Arthur Godfrey and the McGuire Sisters. But her songwriting even reached into the rock era. Buddy Holly included her song "Mailman Bring Me No More Blues" as the B side of his record "Words of
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Arthur Godfrey
  • 1983
    Age 79
    He died of the condition at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on March 16, 1983 at the age of 79.
    More Details Hide Details Godfrey was buried at Union Cemetery in Leesburg, Virginia, not far from his farm in Waterford, Virginia.
  • 1981
    Age 77
    A 1981 attempt to reconcile him with LaRosa for a Godfrey show reunion record album, bringing together Godfrey and a number of the "Little Godfreys," collapsed.
    More Details Hide Details At an initially amicable meeting, Godfrey reasserted that LaRosa wanted out of his contract and asked why he had not explained that instead of insisting he was fired without warning. When LaRosa began reminding him of the dance lesson controversy, Godfrey, then in his late seventies, exploded and the meeting ended in shambles. Toward the end of his life, Godfrey became a major supporter of public broadcasting, and left his large personal archive of papers and programs to public station WNET/Thirteen in New York. Godfrey biographer Art Singer helped to arrange a permanent home for the Godfrey material at the Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland in early 1998. The collection contains hundreds of kinescopes of Godfrey television programs, more than 4,000 audiotapes and wire recordings of his various radio shows, videotapes, and transcription discs. The collection also contains Godfrey's voluminous personal papers and business records, which cover his spectacular rise and precipitous fall in the industry over a period of more than 50 years.
  • 1979
    Age 75
    He also made a cameo appearance in the 1979 B-movie Angels Revenge.
    More Details Hide Details In retirement, Godfrey wanted to find ways back onto a regular TV schedule. He appeared in a 1920s-pop-style performance on the rock band Moby Grape's second album. Godfrey's political outlook was complex, and to some, contradictory—his lifelong admiration for Franklin Roosevelt combined with a powerful libertarian streak in his views and his open support for Dwight D. Eisenhower as president. During his later years he became a powerful voice for the environmentalist movement who identified with the youth culture that irreverently opposed the "establishment," as he felt he had done during his peak years. He renounced a lucrative endorsement deal with Colgate-Palmolive when it became clear to him that it clashed with his environmental principles. He had made commercials for Colgate toothpaste and the detergent Axion, only to repudiate the latter product when he found out that Axion contained phosphates, implicated in water pollution. He did far fewer commercials after that incident.
  • 1972
    Age 68
    The Godfrey show was the last daily longform entertainment program on American network radio when Godfrey and CBS agreed to end it in April 1972, when his 20-year contract with the network expired.
    More Details Hide Details Godfrey by then was a colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve and still an active pilot. He appeared in the movies 4 for Texas (1963), The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows (1968). He briefly co-hosted Candid Camera with creator Allen Funt, but that relationship, like so many others, ended acrimoniously; Godfrey hosted at least one broadcast without Funt. Godfrey also made various guest appearances, and he and Lucille Ball co-hosted the CBS special 50 Years of Television (1978).
  • 1959
    Age 55
    In 1959, Godfrey began suffering chest pains.
    More Details Hide Details Examination by physicians revealed a mass in his chest that could have been lung cancer. Later that same year, Godfrey ended Arthur Godfrey Time and The Arthur Godfrey Show (as the prime-time series was known after the fall of 1956) after revealing his illness. Surgeons discovered cancer in one lung that spread to his aorta. One lung was removed. Yet, despite the disease's discouragingly high mortality in that era, it became clear after radiation treatments that Godfrey had beaten the substantial odds against him. He returned to the air on a prime-time TV special but resumed the daily morning show on radio only, reverting to a format featuring guest stars such as ragtime pianist Max Morath and Irish vocalist Carmel Quinn, maintaining a live combo of first-rate Manhattan musicians (under the direction of Sy Mann) as he had done since the beginning. Godfrey also became a persuasive spokesman advocating regular medical checkups to detect cancer early, noting his cancer was cured only because it was discovered when still treatable.
    One of the medium's early master commercial pitchmen, he was strongly identified with many of his sponsors, especially Chesterfield cigarettes and Lipton Tea. Having advertised Chesterfield for many years, during which time he devised the slogan "Buy 'em by the carton", Godfrey terminated his relationship with the company after he quit smoking, five years before he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1959.
    More Details Hide Details Subsequently, he became a prominent spokesman for anti-smoking education.
  • 1953
    Age 49
    Occasionally, Godfrey snapped at cast members on the air. A significant number of other "Little Godfreys," including the Mariners and Haleloke, were dismissed from 1953 to 1959 without explanation.
    More Details Hide Details Other performers, most notably Pat Boone and, briefly, Patsy Cline, stepped in as "Little Godfreys." Cline, who had won top place for her appearance on "Talent Scouts," decided against becoming a regular, confining her appearances to a few guest spots. Godfrey's problems with the media and public feuds with newspaper columnists such as Jack O'Brian and newspaperman turned CBS variety show host Ed Sullivan were duly documented by the media, which began running critical exposé articles linking him to several female "Little Godfreys." Godfrey's anger at Sullivan stemmed from the variety show impresario's featuring of fired "Little Godfreys" on his Sunday night show, including LaRosa. Godfrey later dismissed longtime vocalist Frank Parker, an Italian-American known for his Irish tenor. Parker had joked about Godfrey during a Las Vegas appearance. As the media turned on Godfrey, two films, The Great Man (1956) starring José Ferrer, who also directed and produced, and Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd (1957) starring Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal, were inspired in part by Godfrey's increasingly controversial career:
    He had concluded after his 1953 hospitalization broke his smoking habit, that smoking was not beneficial and very likely harmful, a total reverse from his earlier commercials.
    More Details Hide Details His once-friendly rapport with the company began to fade as he spoke out against smoking on the air. Godfrey fired others among his regulars, including bandleader Archie Bleyer, within days of LaRosa's public "execution." Bleyer had both formed his own label, Cadence Records, which recorded LaRosa, and married one of The Chordettes, and that group also broke away from Godfrey, who replaced them with The McGuire Sisters. Godfrey was also angered when Bleyer produced a spoken-word record by Godfrey's Chicago counterpart Don McNeill. McNeill hosted The Breakfast Club, which had been Godfrey's direct competition on the NBC Blue Network (later ABC) since Godfrey's days at WJSV. Despite the McNeill show's far more modest following, Godfrey was unduly offended, even paranoid, at what he felt was disloyalty on Bleyer's part. Bleyer simply shrugged off the dismissal and focused on developing Cadence, which later released hits by the Everly Brothers and Andy Williams.
    On October 19, 1953, near the end of his morning radio show — deliberately waiting until after the television portion had ended — after lavishing praise on LaRosa in introducing the singer's performance of "Manhattan," Godfrey thanked him and then announced that this was LaRosa's "swan song" with the show, adding, "He goes now, out on his own — as his own star — soon to be seen on his own programs, and I know you'll wish him godspeed as much as I do".
    More Details Hide Details Godfrey then signed off for the day saying, "This is the CBS Radio Network". LaRosa, who had to be told what the phrase "swan song" meant, was dumbfounded, since he had not been informed beforehand of his departure and contract renegotiations had yet to happen. In perhaps a further illumination of the ego that Godfrey had formerly kept hidden, radio historian Gerald Nachman, in Raised on Radio, claims that what really miffed Godfrey about his now-former protege was that LaRosa's fan mail had come to outnumber Godfrey's. It is likely that a combination of these factors led to Godfrey's decision to discharge LaRosa. It is not likely Godfrey expected the public outcry that ensued, a result of the incident running directly counter to Godfrey's avuncular image. The LaRosa incident opened an era of controversy that swirled around Godfrey and gradually destroyed his folksy image. LaRosa was beloved enough by Godfrey's fans that they saved their harshest criticism for Godfrey himself. After the firing, a press conference was held by LaRosa and his agent. Shortly afterward, Godfrey further complicated the matter at a press conference of his own where he responded that LaRosa had lost his "humility". The charge, given Godfrey's sudden baring of his own ego beneath the facade of warmth, brought mockery from the public and press. Almost instantly, Godfrey and the phrase "no humility" became the butt of many comedians' jokes.
    He made a television movie in 1953, taking the controls of an Eastern Airlines Lockheed Constellation airliner and flying to Miami, thus showing how safe airline travel had become.
    More Details Hide Details As a reserve officer, he used his public position to cajole the Navy into qualifying him as a Naval Aviator, and played that against the United States Air Force, who later successfully recruited him into the Air Force Reserve. At one time during the 1950s, Godfrey had flown every active aircraft in the military inventory. His continued unpaid promotion of Eastern Airlines earned him the undying gratitude of good friend Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War I flying ace who was the president of the airline. He was such a good friend of the airline that Rickenbacker took a retiring Douglas DC-3, fitted it out with an executive interior and DC-4 engines, and presented it to Godfrey, who then used it to commute to the studios in New York City from his huge Leesburg, Virginia, farm every Sunday night. When the Godfrey show began appearing on television, some Southern CBS affiliates objected to the barbershop quartet The Mariners. This group of four US Coast Guard veterans included two whites and two blacks. Godfrey not only resisted criticism from network affiliates in Southern states: he struck back. During the Korean War, he noted black and white troops were serving together in the conflict and attacked critics of the group's presence including Georgia Governor Herman Talmadge.
    In 1953, he underwent pioneering hip replacement surgery in Boston using an early plastic artificial hip joint.
    More Details Hide Details The operation was successful and he returned to the show to the delight of his vast audience. During his recovery, CBS was so concerned about losing Godfrey's audience that they encouraged him to broadcast live from his Beacon Hill estate (near Leesburg, Virginia), with the signal carried by microwave towers built on the property. Godfrey's immense popularity and the trust placed in him by audiences was noticed by not just advertisers but also his friend U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, who asked him to record a number of public service announcements to be played on American television in the case of nuclear war. It was thought that viewers would be reassured by Godfrey's grandfatherly tone and folksy manner. The existence of the PSA tapes was confirmed in 2004 by former CBS president Dr. Frank Stanton in an exchange with a writer with the Web site CONELRAD.
    On a memorable evening in 1953, up and coming New York TV personality Steve Allen was a last-minute replacement for Godfrey on Talent Scouts.
    More Details Hide Details When it came time to deliver the live commercial for Lipton tea and soups, Allen impulsively prepared the soup and tea on camera, and poured both into a ukulele. Shaking the mixture well, he played a few damp notes while reciting the rest of the commercial. Allen became a national celebrity and within the year he would become the first host of NBC's Tonight Show. Godfrey had been in pain since the 1931 car crash that damaged his hip.
  • 1951
    Age 47
    In 1951 Godfrey also narrated a nostalgic movie documentary, Fifty Years Before Your Eyes, produced for Warner Brothers by silent-film anthologist Robert Youngson.
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    LaRosa joined the cast in 1951 and became a favorite with Godfrey's immense audience, who also saw him on the prime-time weekly show Arthur Godfrey and his Friends.
    More Details Hide Details Godfrey also had a regular announcer-foil on the show, Tony Marvin. Godfrey preferred his performers not to use personal managers or agents, but often had his staff represent the artists if they were doing personal appearances, which allowed him considerable control over their careers and incomes. In 1953, after LaRosa hired an agent, Godfrey was so angry that he fired him on the air. Godfrey was one of the busiest men in the entertainment industry, often presiding over several daytime and evening radio and TV shows simultaneously. (Even busier was Robert Q. Lewis, who hosted Arthur Godfrey Time whenever Godfrey was absent, adding to his own crowded schedule.) Both Godfrey and Lewis made commercial recordings for Columbia Records, often featuring the "Little Godfreys" in various combinations. In addition to the "Too Fat Polka" mentioned above, these included "Candy and Cake"; "Dance Me Loose". "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover"; "Slap 'Er Down Again, Paw"; "Slow Poke"; and "The Thing".
  • 1949
    Age 45
    In 1949, Arthur Godfrey and His Friends, a weekly informal variety show, began on CBS-TV in prime time.
    More Details Hide Details His affable personality combined warmth, heart, and occasional bits of double entendre repartee, such as his remark when the show went on location: "Well, here we are in Miami Bitch. Hehheh." Godfrey received adulation from fans who felt that despite his considerable wealth, he was really "one of them," his personality that of a friendly next-door-neighbor. His ability to sell products, insisting he would not promote any in which he did not personally believe, gave him a level of trust from his audience, a belief that "if Godfrey said it, it must be so." When he quit smoking after his 1953 hip surgery, he began speaking out against smoking on the air, to the displeasure of longtime sponsor Chesterfield. When he stood his ground, the company withdrew as a sponsor. Godfrey shrugged off their departure since he knew other sponsors would easily fill the vacancy.
  • 1948
    Age 44
    In 1948, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts began to be simultaneously broadcast on radio and television, and by 1952, Arthur Godfrey Time also appeared on both media.
    More Details Hide Details The radio version ran an hour and a half; the TV version an hour, later expanded to an hour and a half. The Friday shows were heard on radio only, because at the end of the week, Godfrey traditionally broadcast his portion from a studio at his Virginia farm outside of Washington, D.C., and TV cameras were unable to transmit live pictures of him and his New York cast at the same time. Godfrey's skills as a commercial pitchman brought him a large number of loyal sponsors, including Lipton Tea, Frigidaire, Pillsbury cake mixes and Liggett & Myers's Chesterfield cigarettes. He found that one way to enhance his pitches was to extemporize his commercials, poking fun at the sponsors (while never showing disrespect for the products themselves), the sponsors' company executives, and advertising agency types who wrote the scripted commercials that he regularly ignored. (If he read them at all, he ridiculed them or even threw aside the scripts in front of the cameras.) To the surprise of the advertising agencies and sponsors, Godfrey's kidding of the commercials and products frequently enhanced the sales of those products. His popularity and ability to sell brought a windfall to CBS, accounting for a significant percentage of their corporate profits.
  • 1947
    Age 43
    In 1947, Godfrey had a surprise hit record with the novelty "Too Fat Polka (She's Too Fat For Me)" written by Ross MacLean and Arthur Richardson.
    More Details Hide Details The song's popularity led to the Andrews Sisters recording a version adapted to the women's point-of-view. Godfrey's morning show was supplemented by a primetime variety show, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, broadcasting from the CBS Studio Building at 49 East 52nd Street where he had his main office. This variety show, a showcase for rising young performers, was a slight variation of CBS's successful Original Amateur Hour. Some of the performers had made public appearances in their home towns and were recommended to Godfrey by friends or colleagues. These "sponsors" would accompany the performers to the broadcast and introduce them to Godfrey on the air. Two acts from the same 1948 broadcast were Wally Cox and The Chordettes. Both were big hits that night, and both were signed to recording contracts. Godfrey took special interest in The Chordettes, who sang his kind of barbershop-quartet harmony, and he soon made them part of his broadcasting and recording "family." Godfrey was also known for extemporizing music on the show, grabbing his ukulele and launching into songs the band may not have rehearsed. He had insisted on employing musicians in his small orchestra who would be able to accompany him quickly and "follow" him as he sang. This resulted in impromptu jam sessions on some broadcasts, rarely heard on mainstream variety programs.
  • 1945
    Age 41
    Godfrey became nationally known in April 1945 when, as CBS's morning-radio man in Washington, he took the microphone for a live, firsthand account of President Roosevelt's funeral procession.
    More Details Hide Details The entire CBS network picked up the broadcast, later preserved in the Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly record series, I Can Hear it Now. Unlike the tight-lipped news reporters and commentators of the day, who delivered news in an earnest, businesslike manner, Godfrey's tone was sympathetic and neighborly, lending immediacy and intimacy to his words. When describing new President Harry S. Truman's car in the procession, Godfrey fervently said, in a choked voice, "God bless him, President Truman." Godfrey broke down in tears and cued the listeners back to the studio. The entire nation was moved by his emotional outburst. Godfrey made such an impression on the air that CBS gave him his own morning time slot on the nationwide network. Arthur Godfrey Time was a Monday-Friday show that featured his monologues, interviews with various stars, music from his own in-house combo and regular vocalists. Godfrey's monologues and discussions were usually unscripted, and went wherever he chose. Arthur Godfrey Time remained a late morning staple on the CBS Radio Network schedule until 1972.
  • 1942
    Age 38
    In the autumn of 1942, he also became the announcer for Fred Allen's Texaco Star Theater show on the CBS network, but a personality conflict between Allen and Godfrey led to his early release from the show after only six weeks.
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  • 1939
    Age 35
    One surviving broadcast from 1939 has Godfrey unexpectedly turning on his microphone to harmonize with The Foursome's recording of "There'll Be Some Changes Made."
    More Details Hide Details He knew President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who listened to his Washington program, and through Roosevelt's intercession, he received a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve before World War II. Godfrey eventually moved his base to the CBS station in New York City, then known as WABC (now WCBS), and was heard on both WJSV and WABC for a time.
  • 1938
    Age 34
    Godfrey was married twice. He and his first wife, Catherine, had one child. He was then married to the former Mary Bourke from 1938 until their divorce in 1982, a year before his death.
    More Details Hide Details They had three children. His granddaughter is Mary Schmidt Amons, a cast member on The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C..
  • 1937
    Age 33
    In 1937, he was a host on Professor Quiz, radio's first successful quiz program.
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  • 1934
    Age 30
    In 1934 he became a freelance entertainer, but eventually based himself on a daily show titled Sundial on CBS-owned station WJSV (now WFED) in Washington.
    More Details Hide Details Godfrey was the station's morning disc jockey, playing records, delivering commercials (often with tongue in cheek; a classic example had him referring to Bayer Aspirin as "bare ass prin"), interviewing guests, and even reading news reports during his three-hour shift. Godfrey loved to sing, and would frequently sing random verses during the "talk" portions of his program.
  • 1931
    Age 27
    Recovering from a near-fatal automobile accident en route to a flying lesson in 1931 (he was already an avid flyer), he decided to listen closely to the radio and realized that the stiff, formal style then used by announcers could not connect with the average radio listener.
    More Details Hide Details The announcers spoke in stentorian tones, as if giving a formal speech to a crowd and not communicating on a personal level. Godfrey vowed that when he returned to the airwaves, he would affect a relaxed, informal style as if he were talking to just one person. He also used that style to do his own commercials and became a regional star. In addition to announcing, Godfrey sang and played the ukulele.
  • 1929
    Age 25
    He passed a stringent qualifying examination and was admitted to the prestigious Radio Materiel School at the Naval Research Laboratory, graduating in 1929.
    More Details Hide Details It was during a Coast Guard stint in Baltimore that on October 5 of that year he appeared on a local talent show and became popular enough to land his own brief weekly program. On leaving the Coast Guard, Godfrey became a radio announcer for the Baltimore station WFBR (now WJZ (AM)) and moved to Washington, D.C. to become a staff announcer for NBC-owned station WRC the same year and remained there until 1934.
  • 1927
    Age 23
    Additional radio training came during Godfrey's service in the Coast Guard from 1927 to 1930.
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  • 1920
    Age 16
    Godfrey served in the United States Navy from 1920 to 1924 as a radio operator on naval destroyers, but returned home to care for the family after his father's death.
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  • 1903
    Godfrey was born in Manhattan in 1903.
    More Details Hide Details His mother, Kathryn Morton Godfrey, was from a well-to-do Oswego, New York, family which disapproved of her marriage to an older Englishman, Arthur's father Arthur Hanbury Godfrey. The senior Godfrey was a sportswriter and considered an expert on surrey and hackney horses, but the advent of the automobile devastated the family's finances. By 1915, when Arthur was 12, the family had moved to Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Arthur, the eldest of five children, tried to help them survive by working before and after school, but at age 14 left home to ease the financial burden on the family. By 15 he was a civilian typist at Camp Merritt, New Jersey, and enlisted in the Navy (by lying about his age) two years later. Godfrey's father was something of a "free thinker" by the standards of the era. He did not disdain organized religion but insisted that his children explore all faiths before deciding for themselves which to embrace. Their childhood friends included Catholic, Jewish and every kind of Protestant playmates. The senior Godfrey was friends with the Vanderbilts, but was as likely to spend his time talking with the shoeshine man or the hotdog vendor about issues of the day. In the book, Genius in the Family (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1962), written about their mother by Godfrey's youngest sister, Dorothy Gene (who preferred to be called "Jean"), with the help of their sister, Kathy, it was reported that the angriest they ever saw their father was when a man on the ferry declared the Ku Klux Klan a civic organization vital to the good of the community.
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