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Burl Ives

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Also Known As: Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives Died: April 14, 1995
Born: June 14, 1909 Cause of Death: mouth cancer
Birth Place: Hunt City Township, Illinois, USA Profession: actor, singer, writer, professional football player, itinerant worker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Described by one writer as "a character long before he became an actor," Burl Ives went from humble origins to become one of the world's most beloved folk singers as well as a widely respected film, stage, radio and television performer. Weighing in the neighbourhood of 300 pounds, "Big Daddy" Ives was larger than life in other ways, too, captivating audiences with his incredible voice, vast repertoire of traditional ballads - more than 3,400, according to the Library of Congress - and a gentlemanly, homespun persona. After establishing himself on radio as the "Wayfarin' Stranger" and on Broadway in hits like "Sing Out, Sweet Land" (1944-45), Ives became a much-in-demand character actor via such major movies as "East of Eden" (1955), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958) and "The Big Country" (1958), winning a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for the latter. In between ongoing film, stage, and radio work, Ives continued to rack up a truly impressive array of best-selling songs, including "Blue Tail Fly," "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "A Little Bitty Tear." He also garnered two more hits via his participation in Rankin-Bass' beloved "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" (NBC, 1964), which would become a part...

Described by one writer as "a character long before he became an actor," Burl Ives went from humble origins to become one of the world's most beloved folk singers as well as a widely respected film, stage, radio and television performer. Weighing in the neighbourhood of 300 pounds, "Big Daddy" Ives was larger than life in other ways, too, captivating audiences with his incredible voice, vast repertoire of traditional ballads - more than 3,400, according to the Library of Congress - and a gentlemanly, homespun persona. After establishing himself on radio as the "Wayfarin' Stranger" and on Broadway in hits like "Sing Out, Sweet Land" (1944-45), Ives became a much-in-demand character actor via such major movies as "East of Eden" (1955), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958) and "The Big Country" (1958), winning a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for the latter. In between ongoing film, stage, and radio work, Ives continued to rack up a truly impressive array of best-selling songs, including "Blue Tail Fly," "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "A Little Bitty Tear." He also garnered two more hits via his participation in Rankin-Bass' beloved "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" (NBC, 1964), which would become a part of the TV Yuletide lineup every year since its original airing. During a professional career lasting more than five decades, Ives entertained audiences all over the world, made several hundred recordings heard on over 90 records, and more than earned himself the oft cited title of America's greatest folk singer.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Two Moon Junction (1988) Sheriff Earl Hawkins
2.
 Uphill All The Way (1986) Sheriff
3.
 Ewok Adventure, The (1984) Narrator
4.
 White Dog (1982) Carruthers
5.
 Earthbound (1981) Ned Anderson
6.
 Just You And Me, Kid (1979) Max
7.
 Hugo The Hippo (1978) Voice
8.
 New Adventures of Heidi, The (1978) Grandfather
9.
 Bermuda Depths, The (1978) Paulis
10.
 Baker's Hawk (1976) Mr Mcgraw
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Performed as a child singing at church and community gatherings
1938:
Made his NYC stage debut in the Rodgers and Hart musical "I Married an Angel"
:
Appeared in several Broadway shows, including "The Boys From Syracuse" (1938, by Rodgers and Hart), "This Is the Army" (1942, Irving Berlin) and "Sing Out, Sweet Land" (1944)
1946:
Feature debut with a singing role in "Smoky"
1948:
First starring role in the children's feature "So Dear to My Heart"
1954:
Starred on Broadway in a revival of "Showboat"
1955:
Collaborated with Elia Kazan on "East of Eden" (as Sam, the town sheriff) and on the original Broadway stage production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", for which he created his signature role of Big Daddy Pollitt
1956:
TV debut with a guest spot on the Western series "Zane Grey Theater"
1957:
Appeared as a panelist on the game show "High Low Quiz"
1958:
Reprised his role as Big Daddy Pollitt in Richard Brooks' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
1958:
Won Supporting Actor Oscar for "The Big Country"
1959:
Hosted the first of many holiday televised specials, "Holiday U.S.A."
1964:
TV series debut as Prater Beasley on "Daniel Boone" (NBC)
1964:
Narrated English-language version of "Mediterranean Holiday"; also performed songs on the soundtrack
1964:
Credited as the host, narrator, voice and song performer for the animated classic, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
1965:
Portrayed title role of short-lived ABC series "O.K. Crackerby"
1968:
Played Gepitto in "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "Pinocchio" (NBC)
1968:
TV-movie debut, "The Sound of Anger" (NBC), portraying lawyer Walter Nichols
:
Reprised Nichols in "The Lawyers", seen as one-third of the rotating segments of "The Bold Ones" (NBC)
1976:
First TV miniseries, "Captains and the Kings" (NBC)
1977:
Acted in acclaimed ABC miniseries "Roots"
1978:
Final TV-movie, "The Bermuda Depths" (ABC)
1978:
Provided the voice of the Great Easter Bunny in CBS' "The First Easter Rabbit"
1987:
Final small screen appearance as F W Woolworth in the miniseries, "Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story" (NBC)
1988:
Last feature acting credit, "Two Moon Junction"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

The Juilliard School: New York , New York -
Eastern Illinois State Teachers College physical education: - 1927 - 1930

Notes

"I got into a brawl one night in a saloon in Greenwich Village. Elia Kazan, a great director, saw me put out a couple of hecklers and figures there was some Big Daddy in me, just lyin' dormant. And out it came. People still do call me Big Daddy, but to me, inside, I'm no Big Daddy at all." --Burl Ives, a 1978 quote reprinted in USA TODAY, April 17, 1995

Ives was the recipient of the Minnesota Heritage Award, the Carl Sandburg Award, the National Boy Scouts Award and the Crystal Humanitarian Award (given by the Crystal Cathedral), as well as being the Lincoln Laureate (State of Illinois). He also received an Honorary Doctor of Law from Farleigh Dickinson University, an Honorary Doctor of Music from Carl Sandburg College and the US Navy's "E" Award.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Helen Peck Erlich. Married in 1945; when they split up in 1960, she got custody of their son Alexander; had directed Ives on radio show.
wife:
Dorothy Ives. Co-wrote with Ives, "The Mystic Trumpeter-Walt Whitman at 70", a stage vehicle in which he performed the title role at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbera, California in 1988; married in 1970; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Frank Ives. Farmer.
mother:
Cordella Ives.
son:
Alexander Ives. Survived him; adopted with first wife Helen Peck Erlich.
step-son:
Kevin Ives. From wife Dorothy's previous marriage; survived him.
step-son:
Robbie Ives. From wife Dorothy's previous marriage; survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Wayfaring Stranger"

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