Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tribute To Kate Smith

In my younger days we would be over at George and Bliss' boat landing on the south end of Lake Placid Lake and Kate would pull up in this very large Buick and would need her groceries carried from her car to her boat and pay us 25 cents per bag to put them in her boat. She was a kind and frugal lady who never seemed or let on as to what a star she really was. Down to earth all the way and humble to a fault. I remember I once saw her later one day all made up for an appearance on television and hardly recognized her yet she said hello as she passed by.

No other celebrity even came close when it came to selling war bonds during world war II. In a one hour stint on CBS radio network she sold $107 million worth of war bonds, which were issued by the U.S. Government to finance the war effort. Her total for a series of broadcasts was over six million. President Roosevelt introduced her to King George VI of England and stated "This is Kate Smith. Miss Smith is America.

" Kate Smith had become a national singing star from the onset of her broadcasting career in 1931. Her identification with patriotism and patriotic theme's began on the night of November 11, 1938, when on her regular radio program she sang "Go

"God Bless America". A song originally written by Irving Berlin for his 1918 musical "Yip, Yip, Yaphank". For a time Kate Smith had exclusive rights to perform "God Bless America" in public. When it became apparent that this song was not just another pop tune, Mr. Berlin and Kate Smith waived all royalties from performances of "God Bless America". There was a time when the song "God Bless America" supplanted the "Star Spangled Banner" as the most popular patriotic song in America. The royalties continue to be turned over to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.

"Kate and the Babe," KATE SMITH, radio star, and BABE RUTH, baseball idol. The Babe will appear as guest of Miss Smith when she inaugurates her new weekly series of "Bandwagon" broadcasts to be heard over the WABC-COLUMBIA network every Thursday from 8:00 to 9:00 EDST, This program will Air on : Thursday Sept 17. The genial stars will be heard in a comedy sketch of domestic life.

Because of a long and close partnership Miss smith and Ted Collins were thought to be married. They were not, because of all the inquires that were made they sent a form letter to all the people that had written them. It read "Miss Smith is not married. Mr. Collins is and has one daughter and two grandchildren.

In 1949 the Daily Worker, which was the newspaper of the American Communist Party, wrote an article on Kate Smith and called her the red-baiter, Kate the distorter of Communist policy and the apologist for interventionists in Eastern Europe, It never had a noticeable effect on her.

In 1950 she branched into TV. with the Kate Smith Variety Hour. The show only lasted four years. It was dropped in June 1954 , the network received 400,000 letters of protest. Kate later that year returned as a guest on the Ed Sullivan show, which led to five more appearances. In 1960 she had her own variety show, It received high critical acclaim but low ratings. It was dropped after six months.

In 1962 her mother died, followed by the passing of Ted Collins two years later. Miss Smith went in to a period of depression that ended in July 1965, when she announced that she would return to TV in the fall. For the next decade she appeared on shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, and Andy Williams, and many others.

During her long career, Kate Smith rented a number of apartments in New York, she also had a home in Arlington, VA. For forty years she kept a summer home on an island in Lake Placid. She lived modestly and was estimated to have amassed 35 million during her working life.

In 1960 over a period of four years she lost 90 pounds, bleached her hair and shed the dignified dark dress that she wore, she was uncomfortable that way.
When I was a kid Kate would give us a quarter a bag to carry her groceries from Shea's Market from her Buick to her boat in her slip in George and Bliss' landing on the southern end of Lake Placid lake. She had a beautiful camp {home} in the 1st straight about a mile up the lake. She was a gracious and very polite woman, often asking questions about our lives and always showed an interest in us.

see more pictures of her life here http://katesmith.org/katebio.html

In 1965 after attending Catholic services for 25 years, Miss Smith was baptized at the local church in Lake Placid, by the same priest that gave last rites to Ted Collins.

Kate Smith had been in poor health since 1976, on June 17, 1986 she died, she was 79 years old. She was buried in ST. Agnes Cemetery in Lake, Placid, N.Y. At the time of her death she was living in Raleigh, N.C. Death was attributed to a diabetic related illness. Kate Smith who's voice made "God Bless America" an unofficial national anthem was one of the most popular singers of the century.

Kate Smith 1937 CBS press release

Kate was the Godmother to the Great Grand-Daughter of Indian Chief "Two Young Men". This photo shows Kate saying goodbye to the papoose and her mother in Canada just completing her vacation. Kate will then be back performing on the WABC-Columbia radio network.

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