Burl Ives Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (25)  | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Hunt City, Illinois, USA
Died in Anacortes, Washington, USA  (complications from mouth cancer)
Birth NameBurl Icle Ivanhoe Ives
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Burl Ives was one of six children born to an Ulster-Scots farming family. He first sang in public for a soldiers' reunion when he was age 4. In high school, he learned the banjo and played fullback, intending to become a football coach when he enrolled at Eastern Illinois State Teacher's College in 1927. He dropped out in 1930 and wandered, hitching rides, doing odd jobs, street singing.

Summer stock in the late 1930s led to a job with CBS radio in 1940; through his "Wayfaring Stranger" he popularized many of the folk songs he had collected in his travels. By the 1960s, he had hits on both popular and country charts. He recorded over 30 albums for Decca and another dozen for Columbia. In 1964 he was singer-narrator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), an often-repeated Christmas television special. His Broadway debut was in 1938, though he is best remembered for creating the role of Big Daddy in the 1950s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) when it ran on Broadway through the early 1950s.

His four-decade, 30+ movie career began with Ives playing a singing cowboy in Smoky (1946) and reached its peak with (again) his role as Big Daddy role in the movie version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and winning an Oscar for best supporting actor in The Big Country (1958), both in 1958. Ives officially retired from show business on his 80th birthday in 1989 and settled in Anacortes, Washington, although he continued to do frequent benefit performances at his own request. Burl Ives died in 1995.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Family (3)

Spouse Dorothy Koster (16 April 1971 - 14 April 1995)  (his death)
Helen Payne Ehrlich (6 December 1945 - 17 February 1971)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Parents White, Cordelia
Ives, Levi "Frank"
Relatives Ives, Clarence (sibling)
Ives, Audry (sibling)
Ives, Lillburn (sibling)
Ives, Artie (sibling)
Ives, Norma (sibling)
Ives, Argola (sibling)
Samantha Vaughan (grandchild)

Trade Mark (3)

His singing voice
His goatee
His role as Sam the Snowman in Rankin/Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Trivia (25)

Frequent benefits for Indian reservations, peace academies, Boy Scouts, environmental groups, arts foundations, children's medicine
Interred at Mound Cemetery, Jasper County, Illinois, USA.
Burl Ives was the voice of Sam the Eagle, the narrator of the classic Disneyland attraction "American Sings" (1974-1988) in Tomorrowland.
Was inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on June 24th, 1994.
Received the DeMolay Legion of Honor in 1986.
Was initiated into DeMolay at the George N. Todd Chapter in Charleston Illinois, in 1927.
He was a 33rd Degree Mason.
Was a licensed amateur (ham) radio with the call sign KA6HVA. When he passed away, he became, in ham radio parlance, a "silent key."
During the first season The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991) episode "Stimpy's Invention" featured a record, "Happy Happy Joy Joy," which contained a variety of spoken-word segments meant to parody some of Ives' albums from the 1960s. When Ives saw the episode, he contacted Ren and Stimpy Show creator John Kricfalusi and said that he would have been willing to do the voice over work for it.
A string of Ives' hit records, mostly for American Decca and primarily under the supervision of the legendary Owen Bradley, included such songs as "The Blue-Tail Fly" (his all-time biggest hit), "A Little Bitty Tear," "(It's Just My) Funny Way of Laughin'," "Mr. In Between" , "A Holly Jolly Christmas," and, of course, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.".
He died from complications of mouth cancer at his home in Anacortes, WA. His wife and three step-children were with him when he died.
He adopted a son, Alexander, with his first wife, Helen. When they separated in 1960, she got the custody. He also had three stepchildren with his second wife, Dorothy Koster: Kevin Murphy, Rob Grossman, and Barbara Vaughn; and five grandchildren.
An activist liberal Democrat, in 1952 he named fellow folk singer Pete Seeger and others as possible Communists to the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) in order to avoid being blacklisted.
He strongly opposed the United States entering World War II until the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, after which he avidly campaigned for the US to declare war on Germany and Italy.
He was the visual inspiration for the original illustrations of DC Comics super-villain Hector Hammond (created in 1961), one of the Hal Jordan/Green Lantern's archenemies. Ives was 60 years old at the point. Eventually, Hammond was played by Peter Sarsgaard in Green Lantern (2011).
Son of Levi (1880-1947), born in Illinois, and Cordelia (née White) Ives (1882-1954), born in Indiana. Both died in Jasper County, Illinois.
Maternal grandson of Cyrus (1860-1938) and Sarah (née Flyn) White (1858-1928). Both were born in the state of Indiana and died in the state of Illinois.
His wife Dorothy Koster was an interior designer, and is not to be confused with the actress or the casting director of the same name.
Prior to Operation Barbarossa he was a major supporter of the American Peace Mobilization (APM), a far left group opposed to American entry into World War II and Lend-Lease. They recorded such songs as "Get Out and Stay Out of War" and "Franklin, Oh Franklin".
Pete Seeger later forgave Ives for naming names. However, others whose careers did not survive the blacklist were far less forgiving towards Ives.
Ives was identified in the 1950 pamphlet "Red Channels" and blacklisted as an entertainer with Communist ties.
Ives signed the petition of the Committee for the First Amendment, organized by William Wyler, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and John Huston, to protest the House Un-American Activities Committee's investigation of the Hollywood Ten. He supported the presidential candidacy of Progressive candidate Henry A. Wallace.
Pete Seeger publicly ridiculed Ives for attempting to distance himself from pro-Communist organizations he had supported during the 1930s and early 1940s.
After undergoing several operations in 1994 he declined to have further surgery for his oral cancer.
After the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Ives and the Almanacs rerecorded several of their songs to reflect the group's new stance in favor of US entry into World War II. Among them were "Dear Mr. President" and "Reuben James" (the name of a US destroyer sunk by the Germans in the Battle of the Atlantic before the official US entry into the war).

Personal Quotes (2)

I was fortunate to be born into a family of Masons. Indeed, my older sister Audrey was Grand Matron of the Order of Eastern Star in Illinois. My DeMolay experience came very naturally because of my father and brothers. Thus was my youth enhanced.
[on the Spanish Civil War] To me, the Republican elected government stood for freedom and the people, democratic ideals and just the common decencies I'd learned from my father years before. I felt that the Spanish war was a moral fight and I was part of it. Every man would feel its effects.

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