Spade Cooley’s 100th Birthday

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Dustin Stinett » 12/17/10 12:25 PM

Who the H-E-double-hockey-sticks is Spade Cooley and why do we care?

Spade Cooley was a musician (violin), big band leaderhe popularized Western Swingactor, television pioneer, and (ultimately) murderer.

In the early days of television, Cooley had a very popular show on a local Los Angeles station called The Hoffman Hayride. It became so popular during its near 10-year run (1948 to 56) that Paramount syndicated it as The Spade Cooley Show. It was a variety show and besides big stars like Frank Sinatra, he presented all manner of magicians, jugglers, ventriloquists, and other novelty acts. He gave Milo and Roger their name: it was Milo and Company before their appearance on his show, which was broadcast live from the Santa Monica Pier. Cooleys mistaken introduction stuck.

In 1961, Cooley was convicted of murdering his wife in a drunken rage. Sentenced to life in prison (and scheduled for release on parole in 1970some things never change), he died of a massive heart attack while out on a 72-hour furlough to play in a benefit show three months prior to his scheduled release.

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Postby Don Knox » 12/17/10 01:28 PM

Wow Dustin,

You are certainly calling up the Ancient Ones with that one. My Dad used to watch "The Spade Cooley Show" and I can remember the big headlines in the old "Los Angeles Herald Examiner" when Cooley was on trial. It was a big deal then.

I was only ten, but you have dislodged the memory.
Thanks for reminding me I have to take my Geritol. :sleep:

Whoops, too late - g'nite!
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Postby Bill McFadden » 12/17/10 03:59 PM

I've always enjoyed how James Ellroy weaves Spade Cooley into more than one of his novels. (i.e. American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand).

I've always enjoyed how Dustin brings the arcane to our attention.
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Postby Bill Palmer » 12/17/10 05:38 PM

Spade Cooley was a legend among Texas musicians. There were a lot of musicians in the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Some, like Spade Cooley, were serving time for murder or assault. Others were serving time for drug possession.

There was a fellow who was a news announcer for one of the local television stations who would book the Texas Prison Band into all sorts of charity events and even have them come into town to record commercials. None of the commercials ever got played, but it gave the fellows a few days to sleep in a reasonably civilized hotel and enjoy some of the creature comforts that they missed by being in prison.
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