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Arthur Godfrey

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Arthur Godfrey was an active entertainer for most of his life, at least a half a century of performing in radio, television and movies, of singing and playing ukulele and guitar, stepping up to microphones to give voice to his latest promotional scheme. Whether it was new talent he was promoting or bags of tea he did it with oodles of sincerity, convincing most of America that he was a person who could be trusted. His importance is considered paramount to the television medium, an innovative new technology during the most energetic period of Godfrey's career that needed its own celebrities and spokesman, all the better if the roles could be rolled into one. During the '50s it was literally impossible to escape from Godfrey if either a radio or television had been turned on. There are many aspects of the Godfrey mystique--his facial expressions, some say his hair--that seem best experienced in a visual medium, such as DVD reissues of classic television programs. His performances have also been included on audio recordings, some relating once more to reissues of vintage radio programs but others suggesting the range of environments friendly to Godfrey is indeed quite broad. He shows up on collections of novelty songs, on polka compilations, even on a classic bit of far-out psychedelic music when San Francisco's Moby Grapeinvited him to tune in and drop in on their sessions, jamming on ukulele and banjo. Unlike any members of that band, Godfrey could rightfully claim to have been one of the highest paid invididuals in America at one time. Godfrey's ticket to fame circa the late '40s was the idea for a talent show he had come up with; beyond that, all he had to deliver was his friendly microphone-side manner and a selection of the talented, struggling young performers lining the streets. The list of recording artists Godfrey boosted with these programs includes Pat Boone, Tony Bennett, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis and Patsy Cline. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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