Mini Bio (1)
The King's Men quartet was comprised of Ken Darby, arranger & bass; Rad Robinson baritone; Jon Dodson, lead tenor; Bud Linn, top tenor. Formed in Hollywood in 1929, they took their name from a radio sponsor named King. Their first engagement was as a singing foursome in the Paramount film Sweetie (1929)." This led to other films and radio contracts. When the The Boswell Sisters left Los Angeles station KFWB in 1932, the The King's Men replaced them for two years.
They achieved national prominence on radio and records as a feature of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. They sang with Paul Whiteman's Orchestra from 1934 until 1937. Whiteman also acted as their agent, and encouraged their musical activities outside his organization. They subsequently appeared on other broadcasts, including the Rudy Vallee program. They were heard, and sometimes seen, in many feature films, including Sweetie (1929), (My Sweeter than Sweet), Hollywood Party (1934) (Feelin' High), Let's Go Native (1930) (title song), Belle of the Nineties (1934) (Troubled Waters), Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938), Murder at the Vanities (1934), (Lovely One) and notably The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which they are the off screen voices for the Lollipop Guild.
After leaving the Whiteman band in 1937, Ken Darby was hired by conductor/composer Herbert Stothart at MGM. Darby's first screen credit was as vocal arranger and supervisor for The Wizard of Oz (1939)" in which the The King's Men are the off screen voices for specific Munchkins. Darby was the voice of the Mayor of Munchkin Land, while Robinson's voice was heard as Coroner. Dodson and Linn represented the two boys in the Lollipop Guild. Darby's other MGM films included three MacDonald/Eddy pictures. On screen, The King's Men were best remembered as the singing cowboys in sixteen Hopalong Cassidy films. In the film Honolulu (1939), the The King's Men play the The Marx Brothers on ice skates. Darby was subsequently associated with the Music Department at Walt Disney Studios (Dumbo (1941), Song of the South (1946), Make Mine Music (1946), Pinocchio (1940), So Dear to My Heart (1948), Bambi (1942).
For fifteen years The King's Men were regulars on the "Fibber McGee and Molly" broadcasts, and made records with Marian and 'Jim Jordan (I)' qv. The King's Men quartet was the basis for the Ken Darby Singers, featured on John Charles Thomas "Westinghouse Broadcasts" and on many Decca phonograph records, such as Bing Crosby's original recording of "White Christmas." Darby went on to win three Academy Awards (The King and I (1956), Porgy and Bess (1959), Camelot (1967)) as Associate Musical Supervisor with Alfred Newman and André Previn. The The King's Men and their families remained lifelong friends.
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