The King's Men

The King's Men

From the bottom up:

Ken Darby

Born: May 13, 1909; Hebron Nebraska

Died: January 24, 1992 in Sherman Oaks, California of a heart attack

Rad Robinson

Born: November 11, 1909; Bountiful, Utah

Died: September 20, 1988 in Las Vegas, Nevada of a heart attack

Jon Dobson

Born: March 28, 1904; Richland, Missouri

Died: November 28, 1963 in Los Angeles, California

Bud Linn

Born: April 30, 1909; Indianapolis, Indiana

Died: July 31, 1968 in Thousand Oaks, California of coronary occlusion


THE KING'S MEN

NBC, JUNE 7, 1949 - SEPTEMBER 6, 1949 as a summer replacement for Fibber McGee and Molly

The King's Men quartet was comprised of Ken Darby, arranger & bass; Rad Robinson baritone; Jon Dodson, lead tenor; Bud Linn, top tenor. Formed in Hollywood in 1929, they took their name from a radio sponsor named King. Their first engagement was as a singing foursome in the Paramount film "Sweetie." This led to other films and radio contracts. When the Boswell Sisters left Los Angeles station KFWB in 1932, the King's Men replaced them for two years.

They achieved national prominence on radio and records as a feature of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. They sang with Paul Whiteman's Orchestra from 1934 until 1937. Whiteman also acted as their agent, and encouraged their musical activities outside his organization. They subsequently appeared on other broadcasts, including the Rudy Vallee program. They were heard, and sometimes seen, in many feature films, including "Sweetie" (My Sweeter than Sweet), "Hollywood Party" (Feelin' High) "Let's Go Native" (title song), "Belle of the Nineties" (Troubled Waters), "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (I Can Always Find a Little Sunshine in the Y.M.C.A.) and "Murder at the Vanities" (Lovely One).

After leaving the Whiteman band in 1937, Ken Darby was hired by conductor/composer Herbert Stothart at MGM. Darby's first screen credit was as vocal arranger and supervisor for "The Wizard of Oz," in which the King's Men are the off screen voices for specific Munchkins. Darby was the voice of the Mayor of Munchkin Land, while Robinson's voice was heard as Coroner. Dodson and Linn represented the two boys in the Lollipop Guild. Darby's other MGM films included three MacDonald/Eddy pictures. On screen, the King's Men were best remembered as the singing cowboys in sixteen Hopalong Cassidy films. In the film "Honolulu," the King's Men play the Marx Brothers on ice skates. Darby was subsequently associated with the Music Department at Disney Studios (Dumbo, Song of the South, Make Mine Music, Pinocchio, So Dear to My Heart, Bambi).

For fifteen years the King's Men were regulars on the "Fibber McGee and Molly" broadcasts, and made records with Marian and Jim Jordan. The King's Men quartet was the basis for the Ken Darby Singers, featured on John Charles Thomas' "Westinghouse Broadcasts" and on many Decca phonograph records, such as Bing Crosby's original recording of "White Christmas." Darby went on to win three Academy Awards (The King and I, Porgy and Bess, Camelot) as Associate Musical Supervisor with Alfred Newman and Andre Previn. The King's Men and their families remained lifelong friends.

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