Hello Everybody....God Bless America

 

Singer Kate Smith introduced "God Bless America" during her radio broadcast on Armistice Day, 1938.  

 

Born May  1,  1907    -    Died June  17,  1986  

        

 

 

  Kathryn Elizabeth Smith  was born in Washington, DC. on May 1, 1907.She initially trained to be a nurse but began singing during the early 1920s, she relocated to New York to pursue roles in vaudeville. On Broadway her first musical comedy was "Honeymoon lane". She also appeared in " Flying High", where she sang in a pleasant untrained voice, she appeared in  the Broadway "Hit the Deck." At age 23 she was fed up with the theater. She wasn't especially sensitive about her size, but she knew she could sing and she hated being laughed at as a fat-girl comic stooge.       

 

 

 

In early September,  1930  she met Ted Collins and with a hand shake they formed a unique business  partnership, their immensely profitable equally-owned" Kated, Inc." For ten years Kate Smith had been on the air continuously as one of radios  most consistent and widely beloved institutions, with the exception of 13 weeks each summer.   Radio made Kate Smith's name a household word to millions of American  housewives  and was heard in homes nation wide . Columbia Broadcasting Co. told the sponsors of Kated, Inc. that they must sign up for 52 weeks or surrender the five day a week 15 minute noon time program. Kate and the Collins family had vacationed for several years at their Adirondack camp on an island in Lake Placid N.Y.   Kated , Inc. refused to surrender the three month  vacation period. Kated  sponsors pleaded, and a special cable was installed. Transmission wires were leased and through-out  the summer Kate Smith and Ted Collins continued their noontime broadcasts.  

 Kate Smith recorded three thousand songs,   She introduced over a thousand songs of which six hundred made the "hit parade". She made over 15,000 broadcasts over the years and received  over 25 million fan letters. During the height of her career she was named one of the three most popular women in America. 

 

Camp Sunshine, Lake Placid, Kate's  Summer  Hide- a- way pictured below. 

 

                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                    

 

Kate Smith  with her dog Freckles in Sunshine l l l Lake Placid

 

  No other celebrity even came near 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 "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. 

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.    

 

                                   Kate  as a youngster