Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Charles Icle Ivanhoe Ives, 14 June '09, Jaspar County IL; d 14 April '95, Anacortes WA) Folksinger, actor; played guitar, banjo. Tried teachers' college, quit and went on the road during the Depression; arrived in NYC '33, fell in with Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly etc. By WWII a Renaissance man: singer, broadcaster, actor, researcher, author of several books incl. song collections: as radio's 'Wayfaring Stranger' he arr. and popularized 'Blue Tail Fly', 'Foggy Foggy Dew', 'Big Rock Candy Mountain' etc. Recorded with Josh White, Pete Seeger and others as the Union Boys '44. Made acting debut in Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! '38; appeared in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Boys From Syracuse '38, Irving Berlin's This Is The Army '42, Sing Out Sweet Land '44, revival of Showboat '54. Singing 'I Gave My Love A Cherry' he got in a fight with a heckler; the next day he met Elia Kazan, who liked his battered look and cast him in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof '55. Made cinema debut in Smoky '46; played in family westerns, emerging as a serious actor in an unforgettable cameo as a small-town sheriff in East Of Eden '55, then took the role of Big Daddy into the film version of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof '57. Four big pictures '58 incl. Desire Under The Elms (O'Neill again), The Day Of The Outlaw, Wind Across The Everglades and an Oscar-winning role in The Big Country; also Our Man In Havana '59 etc; he was later much seen on TV.
He published autobiography Wayfaring Stranger '48. Records on Columbia post-WWII incl. 'The Doughnut Song': 'As you go through life make this your goal:/Watch the doughnut, not the hole'. He had a no. 21 pop hit '49 with one of several recordings of '(Ghost) Riders In The Sky' (from Gene Autry film); during this period he was, along with the Weavers, almost the only nationally-known performer keeping the flame of folk music burning. He testified to the House Unamerican Activities Committee on the American Communist Party's use of folk music to its own ends. Switched to Decca and had nine Hot 100 hits '57--64, seven in C&W chart '52--72; biggest hits: 'Wild Side Of Life' '52, 'A Little Bitty Tear', 'Funny Way Of Laughin'', 'Call Me Mr In Between' all '62. LPs on Columbia incl. collection The Wayfaring Stranger c'55, then The Times They Are A'Changin' late '60s. Always a hit with children: Junior Choice (on EMI/UK '79) incl. 'Aunt Rhody', 'I Know An Old Lady', 'Ballad Of Davy Crockett', etc. He recorded songs by Roger Miller, Shel Silverstein, Tom T. Hall as well as Bob Dylan; inspirational albums on Word: Stepping In The Light, Bright And Beautiful, How Great Thou Art; country LP Payin' My Dues Again c'76; last album The Magic Balladeer '93 on Cornerstone. Bear Family's five-CD set Little Bitty Tear -- The Nashville Years collects '61--5 tracks.