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Whatever Happened To Burl Ives?

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It’s funny how some memories from childhood seem to stay with you.  I’m not talking about the ‘spectacular’ things that happened.  I’m talking about just little things that, for some reason, hang right there in the warm corner of your little boy (or girl) memories.

I recall as a little boy being at my Uncle Henry and Aunt Martha’s farm near Hardwick, Minnesota.  The adults were somewhere (in the kitchen having coffee?) and I was in the living room looking at an album that they had.

It was Burl Ives.  I had the album cover in my hands and the album was playing on their console stereo.  Apparently they were big Burl Ives fan’s.  And so, at a very young age, I became one too.

I especially think of Burl Ives right around Christmas time because I love the song he did in the video here.


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‘Have A Holly Jolly Christmas’ is, in my humble opinion, best sung by the man Johnny Cash called ‘The Great American Balladeer’.  He had many other great songs of course, perhaps my favorite being ‘A Little Bitty Tear’.

So whatever happened to Burl Ives?

Born in 1909 in a small Illinois town, Burl Ives went on to have a career that spanned so many areas…singing, acting, story telling and more.

He began recording in 1929 and went on to become one of America’s most beloved folk singers.  His acting career began in the 1940’s and continued for decades.  Was he a decent actor?  Nope.  He was way more than decent, in fact winning an Academy Award for his role in ‘The Big Country’.

It was in 1964 that Burl Ives narrated the animated ‘Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer’, a holiday must-see that airs every year to this day.  That was also when we were introduced to ‘Have A Holly Jolly Christmas’.

A renowned pipe smoker, Burl Ives was diagnosed with oral cancer and passed away in 1995 at the age of 85.

And now for a real treat.  Here’s the great Burl Ives on the Johnny Cash TV Show singing ‘A Little Bitty Tear’, along with a duet medley with the Man In Black.

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