Ken Murray’s Blackouts with Co-Headliner, Gene Austin. This photo was taken from a souvenir program that Cliffie had framed when he played bass (Kandy) for Gene Austin. In an interview, Cliffie said: “Another one of my gigs was at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. I was Kandy, the bass player with Gene Austin, who Co-Headlined with Ken Murray and his “Blackouts.” Whenever Ken Murray performed, I wrote down every joke he told. I observed his attitude, how he dressed and what he did with his cigar which was part of his act.” Background info: (1) Gene Austin: This singer, songwriter & pianist had an incredible career! In the 1920s, he was one of the most successful crooner singers on records in the U.S. The total sales from his mega list of hit records (includes “Bye, Bye Blackbird,” “Ramona,” “Carolina Moon” and “My Blue Heaven”) is estimated at 86 million copies. He wrote all the songs in Mae West’s movie, “Klondike Annie.” In the 1930s he formed a successful act with “Candy” Candido & guitarist, Otto “Coco” Heimel; they toured for years and developed a unique sense of comedy that audiences loved. Eventually, there was a wage dispute and other musicians were hired as Kandy and Koko. Gene co-headlined with vaudevillian showman, Ken Murray, at the Earle Theatre in Washington, D.C.; and the two of them developed the concept for a show to be entitled "Blackouts." Ken Murray left for Hollywood to secure financial backing. In the 1940s, they co-headlined “Blackouts” until Austin felt the urge to take on new challenges. In 1957, “The Gene Austin Story” was broadcast on NBC-TV’s “The Goodyear Television Playhouse.” (2) “Ken Murray’s Blackouts”: A vaudeville-type variety revue show comprised of eclectic novelty acts, singers, comedians, musicians, dancers, actors, starlets, acrobatic acts, animal acts, etc. It featured Marie Wilson, a gorgeous comedienne; Rennie Renfro & Daisy (the Wonder Dog); and Gene Austin (singer-pianist) who Co-Headlined with him for awhile. It opened at the El Capitan Theater on June 24, 1942 and ran for 7+ years (3,844 performances) and it became one of the longest running stage shows in the history of the Los Angeles Theater. Ken Murray received a special Academy Award in 1947 for "novel and entertaining use of the medium.”

Previous     Next