Biography

Horace Heidt (May 21, 1901 - December 1, 1986) was an American pianist, Big Band leader, radio and television personality, and entertainer.

He was born in Alameda, California, and he attended Culver Academies. He is best known for his band “Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights” that were national celebrities who toured vaudeville and performed on radio and television for a number of years. Singer Matt Dennis got his start with Heidt’s band and for a time, actor Art Carney was the band’s singing comedian. The Heidt band musical recordings were highly successful, with “Gone with the Wind” going to No.1 in 1937, “Ti-Pi-Tin” No. 1 in 1938 and in 1939 “The Man with the Mandolin” reached No.2.

During this period, Heidt lived in the then-new “Brentwood” (Brentwood, California) neighborhood in West Los Angeles at what was the address of 1525 San Vicente Boulevard at the time. Heidt had bought the mansion from the widow of a retired dentist, and it offered stunning views of Santa Monica Canyon overlooking The Riviera Country Club and even out to Catalina Island on a clear day. The expansive hacienda-style residence, once featured on the cover of the then-popular magazine Pictorial California in Rotogravure in 1927, has long since been razed and the property subdivided.

His “Pot O’ Gold” radio show became the basis for a 1941 motion picture of the same title produced by James Roosevelt (son of the U.S. president) and directed by George Marshall. The film featured Heidt as himself with his band, and starred Jimmy Stewart and Paulette Goddard. Art Carney can be glimpsed in some of the film’s musical numbers. The movie gives a fairly accurate depiction of Heidt’s radio show, but features some blatantly staged sequences, such as a scene in which a Minnesota farmer (allegedly phoned at random by Heidt during his radio show) is played by well-known character actor John Qualen.

His “Original Youth Opportunity Program” on both radio and TV went directly from radio to TV in 1950. It was one of the first talent shows on TV. Among the winners of the show were Dick Contino (Accordion), Ralph Sigwald (Vocals) and Al Hirt (Trumpet). Richard Melari, a talented young vocal impressionist from Cleveland Ohio, was also on the show.

Horace Heidt died in 1986 and was interred in the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. For his contribution to radio, Horace Heidt has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1631 Vine Street and a second star for his contribution to television at 6628 Hollywood Blvd.

Edited by Cymon on 3 Aug 2008, 17:40

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