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Leon Weaver Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (2)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 12 August 1882Ozark, Missouri, USA
Date of Death 27 May 1950Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameLeon Abner Weaver

Mini Bio (1)

The senior member of the popular musical comedy hillbilly trio The Weaver Brothers and Elviry, the musical saw-playing Leon Weaver popularized this and other novelty instruments as part of their Okie-styled shows. The team would eventually move from the Grand Opry stage into Republic Studio films of the late 30s and early 40s.

Born on August 12, 1882, and raised on a farm in Ozark, Missouri, Leon Abner Weaver longed as a youngin' to trade in his heavy-duty farm chores for a life entertaining on the road. His parents, who were musically inclined, encouraged their children (including younger brother Frank Weaver) and soon the two brothers became virtuosos on several home-made instruments.

At age 19, Leon left home and struck out on his own when he earned a place bouncing from gig to gig in Doctor A.B. Christy's Traveling Medicine Shows. An inspired Frank eventually joined this company as well. They later met June Weaver via this circuit and eventually Leon and married. In these medicine shows, the actors were often utilized to sell "cure-all elixirs".

In 1921, Leon and Frank decided to team up together and worked up an act that was discovered by Alexander Pantages, who signed them up. Out on the vaudeville and town hall circuit, they gained themselves a name as "The Weaver Brother". Eventually the duo added Leon's wife June to the act, and renamed the trio "The Weaver Brothers and Elviry". The hayseed threesome gradually rose to the top at the Grand Ole Opry. They also found audiences abroad in Europe with tours that culminated in a command performance for the Queen of England.

Leon and June's marriage broke up after nine years and they divorced. Surprisingly, younger brother Frank and June fell in love and married each other in a marriage that lasted until Frank's death. The sensational type of tabloid news did not hurt the trio's reputation, however, and the group remained in tact and amicable. Vaudeville and radio show opportunities continued to come their way into the Depression-Era 1930s and the group invited new generations of the Weaver family into their popular "Home Folks Show" performances. At their peak, the Weavers and Elviry shared billing with such top comics as Al Jolson, Beatrice Lillie, Jack Benny, and George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Warner Brothers decided to capitalize on their Grand Ole Opry success by trying out the cornpone trio in one of their film, supporting none other than Humphrey Bogart, Penny Singleton and Louise Fazenda in their comedy Swing Your Lady (1938), which an uncomfortable-looking Bogie once call his "worst film". Republic Studios stepped in quickly, however, to feature the group in their own money-making song-and-dance comedy vehicles for the next several years. Such comedies as Down in 'Arkansaw' (1938) with Ralph Byrd, Jeepers Creepers (1939) with Roy Rogers, In Old Missouri (1940), Grand Ole Opry (1940), Tuxedo Junction (1941), Shepherd of the Ozarks (1942), The Old Homestead (1942) and Mountain Rhythm (1943) were not very popular with the critics by any stretch, but war-era film audiences enjoyed their musical talents and hokey, homespun escapism A niece, Loretta Weaver often appeared in their films as the ingénue, Violey. Due to the Weavers' movie success, Republic went on to star country star Judy Canova in her own raucous, hayseed vehicles.

Missing the live audience feel that films didn't provide, the Weaver Brothers and Elviry left Hollywood by 1943 and returned to their stage roots in the Mid-West (notably Missouri). At one point Leon managed a movie house that featured western films. In post-war years Leon returned West again to film two Gene Autry pictures, Loaded Pistols (1948) and Riders of the Whistling Pines (1949) for Columbia and inserted his "Abner Weaver" character and played the bass in the latter film. Leon died in Los Angeles of a heart attack a year later at age 67.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

June Weaver (1914 - 1923) (divorced)

Trade Mark (2)

Rumpled black hat, checkered shirt, overalls and black work shoes
Playing novelty musical instruments (handsaw, pipes, etc.)

Trivia (2)

Suffered a nervous breakdown in 1924 following a tour of Europe. In response, he bought a farm in Springfield, Missouri and worked it for a time as a cure. It worked and soon the Weavers went back to touring.
After WWI broke out, Leon married June Weaver, who was already divorced with two little girls. June was eventually brought into the Weaver Brothers act and the trio was renamed "The Weaver Brothers and Elviry". The marriage to June lasted nine years. After their divorce, June married Frank Weaver, Leon's younger brother and a part of the act.

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