/Amateur Talent Show (1945 - 72)
Arthur Godfrey selling Asprin
We all can agree that things are better said straight
than garbling up the truth. Arthur Godfrey felt the same
way. Arthur grew up in the early parts of the 20th century,
where radio waves were the staging grounds for advertising
companies to wage their "wars." It was probably
Arthur's youth that help him look beyond the "war"
and talk directly to people that these advertising companies
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Arthur Godfrey was born in the "School of Hard-Knocks,"
in New York City, in 1903. Not a very bright child, even
all the way up to his death in 1983, Arthur learned all
his "skills" on the hard streets of the Big
Apple. In 1921, Godfrey joined the Navy and worked as
a radio operator when on sea duty. It was at sea where
he learned how to play his famous instruments that identified
him throughout his career, the Ukulele and the Banjo.
After his duty was up in the Navy, Arthur went off to
live in Detroit, where he got a job selling cemetery lots.
It was here that Arthur noticed that he was good at selling
things (he must have been really good at selling lots
if he could sell to a bunch of sad family members who
were looking to bury their loved ones)!
|Photo of first broadcast, 1941:
Mr. Godfrey is center foreground, the band and singers
are in the background. The lead singer, Patty Clayton,
is at right.
After a brief stint as a cab driver, Arthur joined the
service, AGAIN, but this time, in the Coast Guard. One
day, when he and his fellow guardsmen were listening to
a Radio amateur hour show on WFBR, Arthur said, 'I can
do that!" After showing up at the radio station with
his buddies, the manager of the show squeezed them into
a time slot on the show. After their performance, the
manager decided to keep them on for future shows. This
served as a launching pad for Arthur's career.
In the 1930s, Arthur's popularity was growing exponentially.
This method other announcers sold their sponsors' products,
which was to appeal to a larger group instead of one singular
"person," fueled his popularity. Godfrey was
once quoted saying, "If there are more than two people
in a room, they've got better things to do than listen
to the radio." In doing so, Godfrey was viewed as
the "guy next door." Coupled with his natural
humor and informality, Godfrey landed his own show, "Arthur
he would have regular talents, "non-stars" he
would call them, come on to the show and showcase their
talent for the audience. At the end of the show, the audience
and Arthur would serve as the judges. If they liked any
of the talents, they would ask them to come back to the
next show and compete against the next influx of talent.
If that same talent kept on winning, then they were invited
to join the show's band, nicknamed the "Little Godfreys."
It was from here that the McGuire Sisters and the Chordettes
After many successful seasons, the Network decided to
build a mini-studio inside Arthur's 800-acre farm in upstate
Virginia, mainly to convey a sense of reality to the audience.
From here, Arthur would do his shows, while Arthur chatted
with the rest of his cast who were stationed all over
the country, usually doing so while eating his breakfast
and reading the daily newspaper. This was the format of
the show until its run was ended in 1972, by Arthur Godfrey
For more talent scount excitement, see also: Major Bowes.