Bowes, Major Edward

Host of radio’s 1934-52 original “Amateur Hour”, introduced “Wheel of Fortune” & the gong

Price: $10.00

Description:
(1874-1946) San Francisco-born radio personality of the 1930s & 40s whose “Major Bowes' Amateur Hour” was the best-known amateur talent show in radio during its 18-year run (1934-1952) on NBC Radio & CBS Radio. Bowes’ 1st business success was in real estate, until the 1906 San Francisco earthquake wiped out his fortune. He went to New York City and worked as a musical conductor, composer, arranger, and producer of Broadway shows. He became managing director of New York's Capitol Theatre, which he ran with military efficiency and bearing. He insisted on being addressed as "Major Bowes", the nickname from his earlier military rank. In 1934, he brought his best-known creation to New York radio station WHN. He had hosted scattered amateur nights on smaller stations while manager of the Capitol. Within a year of its premiere, “The Original Amateur Hour” (original name, “Major Bowes and His Capitol Family”) began earning him as much as $1M/year. Some of his discoveries became stars, inc. opera stars Lily Pons, Robert Merrill, and Beverly Sills; comedian Jack Carter; pop singer Teresa Brewer; and Frank Sinatra, fronting a quartet called the Hoboken Four when they appeared on the show in 1937. The show consistently ranked among radio's top 10 programs throughout its entire run. Bowes's familiar catchphrase was "around and around she goes and where she stops nobody knows", spoken in the familiar tones for which he was so renowned whenever it was time to spin its "wheel of fortune," the device by which some contestants were called to perform. In the show’s early days, whenever a performer was too terrible to continue, Bowes would stop the act by striking a gong (a device revived in the 1970s by Chuck Barris's infamous “The Gong Show”). Bowes heard from thousands of listeners who objected to his terminating these acts prematurely, so he abandoned the gong in 1936. He went out of his way to make contestants feel at ease, habitually taking them out to dinner before their appearances. Bowes featured more Black entertainers than many network shows of the time. When Major Bowes died, talent coordinator Ted Mack took over as host until Mack ended the series on Sept. 27,1970. The show was called “Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour” until the 1950-51 season, when it became simply “Original Amateur Hour” and in 1955, “Ted Mack and The Original Amateur Hour.” TLS “Major” on 11 x 8 ½ “Major Edward Bowes” letterhead, New York City, January 5 1939, to Archie Stevenot, Hotel Tioga, Merced, California. Bowes appreciates Stevenot’s letter and “Rad’s Ramblings” newspaper column concerning a famous local tree and answering Bowes’ inquiry as to its (slow) growth over 37 years.

Condition: Very good, mild mount remnants verso & very light wrinkling
Type:Letter






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