Burl Ives: American actor, writer and folk music singer (1909 - 1995) | Biography, Bibliography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Burl Ives
American actor, writer and folk music singer

Burl Ives

Burl Ives
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor, writer and folk music singer
Was Artist Actor Musician Street artist Banjoist Singer Autobiographer Writer Stage actor Film actor Songwriter
From United States of America
Field Arts Creativity Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature Music
Gender male
Birth 14 June 1909, Jasper County, Illinois, U.S.A.
Death 14 April 1995, Anacortes, Skagit County, Washington, U.S.A. (aged 85 years)
Children: Steven Paul
The details (from wikipedia)


Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives (June 14, 1909 – April 14, 1995) was an American singer and actor of stage, screen, radio and television.

He began as an itinerant singer and banjoist, and launched his own radio show, The Wayfaring Stranger, which popularized traditional folk songs. In 1942, he appeared in Irving Berlin's This Is the Army, and then became a major star of CBS radio. In the 1960s, he successfully crossed over into country music, recording hits such as "A Little Bitty Tear" and "Funny Way of Laughing". A popular film actor through the late 1940s and 1950s, Ives's best-known roles in that medium included parts in So Dear to My Heart and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, as well as Rufus Hannassey in The Big Country, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Ives is often remembered for his starring role in the 1964 Christmas stop-motion television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which continues to air on CBS every Christmas season, as the voice of "Sam the Snowman", the special's host and narrator.

Life and career

Early life

Ives was born near Hunt City, an unincorporated town in Jasper County, Illinois, near Newton, to Levi "Frank" Ives (1880–1947) and Cordelia "Dellie" (née White) (1882–1954). He had six siblings: Audry, Artie, Clarence, Argola, Lillburn, and Norma. His father was first a farmer and then a contractor for the county and others. One day, Ives was singing in the garden with his mother, and his uncle overheard them. He invited his nephew to sing at the old soldiers' reunion in Hunt City. The boy performed a rendition of the folk ballad "Barbara Allen" and impressed both his uncle and the audience.

From 1927 to 1929, Ives attended Eastern Illinois State Teachers College (now Eastern Illinois University) in Charleston, Illinois, where he played football. During his junior year, he was sitting in English class, listening to a lecture on Beowulf, when he suddenly realized he was wasting his time. As he walked out of the door, the professor made a snide remark, and Ives slammed the door behind him, shattering the window in the door. Sixty years later, the school named a building after its most famous dropout. Ives was also involved in Freemasonry from 1927 onward.

On July 23, 1929, in Richmond, Indiana, Ives made a trial recording of "Behind the Clouds" for the Starr Piano Company's Gennett label, but the recording was rejected and destroyed a few weeks later. In later years, Ives did not recall having made the record.


Ives traveled about the U.S. as an itinerant singer during the early 1930s, earning his way by doing odd jobs and playing his banjo. He was jailed in Mona, Utah, for vagrancy and for singing "Foggy Dew", which the authorities decided was a bawdy song. Around 1931, he began performing on WBOW radio in Terre Haute, Indiana. He also went back to school, attending classes at Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana State University). In 1933, Ives also attended the Juilliard School in New York. He made his Broadway debut in 1938 with a small role in Rodgers and Hart's hit musical, The Boys from Syracuse. In 1937, he met and befriended actor Eddie Albert. The two lived together for a while in Hollywood.

In 1940, Ives began his own radio show, titled The Wayfaring Stranger after one of his ballads. Over the next decade, he popularized several traditional folk songs, such as "Foggy Dew" (an English folk song), "The Blue Tail Fly" (an old minstrel tune now better known as "Jimmy Crack Corn"), and "Big Rock Candy Mountain" (an old hobo song). He was also associated with the Almanac Singers (Almanacs), a folk-singing group which at different times included Woody Guthrie, Will Geer, Millard Lampell, and Pete Seeger. The Almanacs were active in the American Peace Mobilization (APM), an antiwar group opposed to American entry into World War II and Franklin Roosevelt's pro-Allied policies. They recorded such songs as "Get Out and Stay Out of War" and "Franklin, Oh Franklin".

In June 1941, promptly after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the APM reorganized itself into the prowar American People's Mobilization. Ives and the Almanacs rerecorded several of their songs to reflect the group's new stance in favor of US entry into the war. Among them were "Dear Mr. President" and "Reuben James" (the name of a US destroyer sunk by the Germans before US entry into the war).

In early 1942, Ives was drafted into the U.S. Army. He spent time first at Camp Dix, then at Camp Upton, where he joined the cast of Irving Berlin's This Is the Army. He attained the rank of corporal. When the show went to Hollywood, he was transferred to the Army Air Force. He was discharged honorably, apparently for medical reasons, in September 1943. Between September and December 1943, Ives lived in California with actor Harry Morgan (who would later go on to play Officer Bill Gannon in the 1960s version of Jack Webb's TV show Dragnet, and Colonel Sherman T. Potter on M*A*S*H). In December 1943, Ives went to New York to work for CBS radio for $100 a week. In 1944, he recorded The Lonesome Train, a ballad about the life and death of Abraham Lincoln, written by Earl Robinson (music) and Lampell (lyrics).

On December 6, 1945, Ives married 29-year-old script writer Helen Peck Ehrlich. Their son Alexander was born in 1949.

In 1946, Ives was cast as a singing cowboy in the film Smoky.

In 1947, Ives recorded one of many versions of "The Blue Tail Fly", but paired this time with the popular Andrews Sisters (Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne). The flip side of the record was a fast-paced "I'm Goin' Down the Road". Ives hoped the trio's success would help the record sell well, and indeed it did, becoming both a best-selling disc and a Billboard hit.

His version of the 17th-century English song "Lavender Blue" became his first hit and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for its use in the 1949 film So Dear to My Heart.

Music critic John Rockwell said, "Ives' voice ... had the sheen and finesse of opera without its latter-day Puccinian vulgarities and without the pretensions of operatic ritual. It was genteel in expressive impact without being genteel in social conformity. And it moved people."


Ives (left) with Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Ives was identified in the 1950 pamphlet Red Channels and blacklisted as an entertainer with supposed Communist ties. In 1952, he cooperated with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and agreed to testify. Ives' statement to the HUAC ended his blacklisting, allowing him to continue acting in movies, but it also led to a bitter rift between Ives and many folk singers, including Pete Seeger, who accused Ives of naming names and betraying the cause of cultural and political freedom to save his own career. Forty-one years later, Ives, by then confined to a wheelchair, reunited with Seeger during a benefit concert in New York City. They sang "Blue Tail Fly" together.

Ives expanded his appearances in films during this decade. His movie credits include the role of Sam the Sheriff of Salinas, California, in East of Eden, Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, roles in Desire Under the Elms, Wind Across the Everglades, The Big Country, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Ensign Pulver, the sequel to Mister Roberts, and Our Man in Havana, based on the Graham Greene novel.


In the 1960s, Ives began singing country music with greater frequency. In 1962, he released three songs that were popular with both country music and popular music fans: "A Little Bitty Tear", "Call Me Mister In-Between", and "Funny Way of Laughing."

Ives had several film and television roles during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1962, he starred with Rock Hudson in The Spiral Road, which was based on a novel of the same name by Jan de Hartog. He also starred in Disney's Summer Magic with Hayley Mills, Dorothy McGuire, and Eddie Hodges, and a score by Robert and Richard Sherman. In 1964, he played the genie in the movie The Brass Bottle with Tony Randall and Barbara Eden.

Ives' "A Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Silver and Gold" became Christmas standards after they were first featured in the 1964 NBC-TV presentation of the Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated family special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Johnny Marks had composed the title song (originally an enormous hit for singing cowboy Gene Autry) in 1949, and producers Rankin and Bass retained him to compose the TV special's soundtrack. Ives voiced Sam the Snowman, the banjo-playing "host" and narrator of the story, explaining how Rudolph used his "nonconformity", as Sam refers to it, to save Christmas from being cancelled due to an impassable blizzard. The following year, Ives rerecorded all three of the Johnny Marks hits which he had sung in the TV special, but with a more "pop" feel. He released them all as singles for the 1965 holiday season, capitalizing on their previous success.

Ives performed in other television productions, including Pinocchio and Roots. He starred in two television series: O.K. Crackerby! (1965–66), which costarred Hal Buckley, Joel Davison, and Brooke Adams, and The Bold Ones: The Lawyers (1969–72). O.K. Crackerby!, which was about the presumed richest man in the world, replaced Walter Brennan's somewhat similar The Tycoon on the ABC schedule from the preceding year. Ives occasionally starred in macabre-themed productions. In 1970, for example, he played the title role in The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever, in which his character attempts to harvest human organs from unwilling donors. In 1972, he appeared as old man Doubleday in the episode "The Other Way Out" of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, in which his character seeks a gruesome revenge for the murder of his granddaughter.

Ives and Helen Peck Ehrlich were divorced in February 1971. Ives then married Dorothy Koster Paul in London two months later. In their later years, Ives and Dorothy lived in a waterfront home in Anacortes, Washington, in the Puget Sound area, and in Galisteo, New Mexico, on the Turquoise Trail. In the 1960s, he had another home just south of Hope Town on Elbow Cay, a barrier island of the Abacos in the Bahamas.

In honor of Ives' influence on American vocal music, on October 25, 1975, he was awarded the University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit. This award, initiated in 1964, was "established to bring a declaration of appreciation to an individual each year who has made a significant contribution to the world of music and helped to create a climate in which our talents may find valid expression."

When America Sings opened at Disneyland in 1974, Ives voiced the main host, Sam Eagle, an Audio-Animatronic.

Ives lent his name and image to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's "This Land Is Your Land – Keep It Clean" campaign in the 1970s. He was portrayed with the program's fictional spokesman, Johnny Horizon.

Burl Ives was seen regularly in television commercials for Luzianne tea for several years during the 1970s and 1980s, when he was the company's commercial spokesman.

In 1989, Ives officially announced his retirement from show business on his 80th birthday. However, he continued to do occasional benefit concert performances on his own accord until 1993.


Ives was a pipe smoker. (The cover of his first album showed a pipe and a fishing hat with the words "Burl Ives" in between.) He also smoked cigars. In the summer of 1994, he was diagnosed with oral cancer. After several unsuccessful operations, he decided against further surgery. He fell into a coma and died from the disease on April 14, 1995, at the age of 85, at his home in Anacortes, Washington. He was buried in Mound Cemetery in Hunt City Township, Jasper County, Illinois.

Broadway roles

Ives' Broadway career included appearances in The Boys from Syracuse (1938–39), Heavenly Express (1940), This Is the Army (1942), Sing Out, Sweet Land (1944), Paint Your Wagon (1951–52), and Dr. Cook's Garden (1967). His most notable Broadway performance (later reprised in a 1958 movie) was as "Big Daddy" Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955–56).


Ives' autobiography, The Wayfaring Stranger, was published in 1948. He also wrote or compiled several other books, including Burl Ives' Songbook (1953), Tales of America (1954), Sea Songs of Sailing, Whaling, and Fishing (1956), and The Wayfaring Stranger's Notebook (1962).

Boy Scouts

Ives had a long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. He was a Lone Scout before that group merged with the Boy Scouts of America in 1924. The organization "inducted" Ives in 1966. He received the Boy Scouts' Silver Buffalo Award, its highest honor. The certificate for the award is on display at the Scouting Museum in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Ives often performed at the quadrennial Boy Scouts of America jamboree, including the 1981 jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, where he shared the stage with the Oak Ridge Boys. There is a 1977 sound recording of Ives being interviewed by Boy Scouts at the National Jamboree at Moraine State Park, Pennsylvania. Ives was also the narrator of a 28-minute film about the 1977 National Jamboree. In the film, which was produced by the Boy Scouts of America, Ives "shows the many ways in which Scouting provides opportunities for young people to develop character and expand their horizons."

Civic awards

Burl Ives was inducted as a laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the state’s highest honor) by the governor of Illinois in 1976 in the area of the performing arts.



  • Okeh Presents the Wayfaring Stranger (1941, Okeh K-3, 4 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm)
  • The Wayfaring Stranger (1944, Asch 345, 3 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm, reissued in 1947 as Stinson 345 [same catalog number], 10 inch, 78 rpm)
  • The Wayfaring Stranger (1944, Columbia C-103, 4 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm)
  • BBC Presents The Martins and the Coys (1944, BBC World, 6 records, 12 inch, 78 rpm)
  • Lonesome Train: A Musical Legend (1944, Decca A-375, 3 records, 12 inch, 78 rpm, reissued in 1950 as Decca DL 5054, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Sing Out, Sweet Land! (1945, Decca A-404, 6 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm)
  • A Collection of Ballads and Folk Songs (1945, Decca A-407, 4 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm, reissued in 1950 as A Collection of Ballads and Folk Songs, Volume 1, Decca DL 5080, 10 inch 3313 rpm)
  • Ballads and Folk Songs, Volume 2 (1946, Decca A-431, 4 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm, reissued in 1949 as Decca DL 5013, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • A Collection of Ballads, Folk and Country Songs, Volume 3 (1949, Decca A-711, 3 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm, reissued in 1950 as Decca DL 5093, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • The Wayfaring Stranger (1949, Stinson SLP 1, 10 inch, 78 rpm, reissued circa 1954 as Blue Tail Fly and Other Favorites, Stinson SL 1 [same catalog number], 12 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Animal Fair: Songs for Children (1949, Columbia MJV 59, 2 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm)
  • Mother Goose Songs (1949, Columbia MJV 61, 10 inch, 78 rpm)
  • The Return of the Wayfaring Stranger (1949, C-186, 4 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm, also released as Columbia CL 6058, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • The Wayfaring Stranger (1950, Columbia CL 6109, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Hymns Sung by Burl Ives (1950, Columbia C-203, 4 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm; Columbia CL 6115, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • More Folksongs (1950, Columbia C-213, 4 records, 10 inch, 78 rpm; Columbia CL 6144, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Burl Ives Sings The Lollipop Tree, The Little Turtle, And The Moon Is The North Wind's Cookie (1950, Columbia MJV 110, 10 inch, 78 rpm)
  • Tubby The Tuba (Victor Jory)/Animal Fair: Songs for Children (1950, Columbia JL 8013, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Sing Out, Sweet Land! (1950, Decca DL 8023, 12 inch, 3313 rpm, reissued in 1962 as Decca DL 4304/74304 [simulated stereo])
  • Historical America in Song (1950, Encyclopædia Britannica Films, 6 albums in 30 records, 12 inch, 78 rpm)
  • Christmas Day in the Morning (1952, Decca DL 5428, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Folk Songs Dramatic And Humorous (1953, Decca DL 5467, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Women: Songs About The Fair Sex (1953, Decca DL 5490, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Coronation Concert (1954, Decca DL 8080, 12 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • The Wayfaring Stranger (1955, Columbia CL 628, 12 inch, 3313 rpm, reissued in 1964 as Columbia CS 9041 [simulated stereo])
  • The Wild Side Of Life (album) (1955, Decca DL 8107, 12 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Men: Songs For And About Men (1955, Decca DL 8125, 12 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Down to the Sea in Ships (1956, Decca DL 8245, 12 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Women: Folk Songs About The Fair Sex (1956, Decca DL 8245, 12 inch, 3313 rpm, with 4 additional songs)
  • Burl Ives Sings In The Quiet Of The Night (1956, Decca DL 8247)
  • Burl Ives Sings... For Fun (1956, Decca DL 8248)
  • Children's Favorites (1956, Columbia CL 2570, 10 inch, 3313 rpm)
  • Burl Ives Sings Songs For All Ages (1957, Columbia CL 980)
  • Christmas Eve With Burl Ives (1957, Decca DL 8391)
  • Songs Of Ireland (1958, Decca DL 8444)
  • Captain Burl Ives' Ark (1958, Decca DL 8587)
  • Old Time Varieties (1958, Decca DL 8637)
  • Australian Folk Songs (1958, Decca DL 8749)
  • A Lincoln Treasury (contains Lonesome Train: A Musical Legend) (1959, Decca DL 9065)
  • Cheers (Burl Ives album) (1959, Decca DL 8886/78886)
  • Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck and Other Children's Favorites (1959, Harmony HL 9507, reissued circa 1963 as Harmony HS 14507 [simulated stereo], reissued again in 1974 as Columbia C 33183 [simulated stereo])
  • Ballads (Burl Ives album) (1959, United Artists UAL 3030/UAS 6030)
  • Return Of The Wayfaring Stranger (1960, Columbia CL 1459, 12 inch, 33/13 rpm)
  • Burl Ives Sings Irving Berlin (1960, United Artists UAL 3117/UAS 6117)
  • Manhattan Troubadour (1961, United Artists Records UAL 3145/UAS 6145, reissued with two fewer songs as Burl Ives Favorites, 1970, Sunset SUS 5280)
  • The Best Of Burl Ives (1961, Decca DX 167/DXS 7167 [simulated stereo], 2 records, reissued in 1973 as MCA 4034 [simulated stereo], 2 records)
  • The Versatile Burl Ives! (1961, Decca DL 4152/74152)
  • Songs Of The West (1961, Decca DL 4179/74179, reissued as MCA 196)
  • It's Just My Funny Way Of Laughin' (1962, Decca DL 4279/74279)
  • Burl Country Style (1962, Decca DL 4361/74361)
  • Spotlight On Burl Ives And The Folk Singers Three (1962, Design DLP/SDLP 156)
  • Sunshine In My Soul (1962, Decca DL 4329/74329)
  • Songs I Sang In Sunday School (1963, Word W-3229-LP/ WST-8130-LP)
  • Burl Ives (1963, Camay CA 3005)
  • Burl Ives and the Korean Orphan Choir Sing of Faith and Joy (1963, Word W-3259-LP/WST-8140-LP)
  • Singin' Easy (1963, Decca DL 4433/74433)
  • The Best Of Burl's For Boys And Girls (1963, Decca DL 4390/74390 [simulated stereo], reissued in 1980 as MCA 98 [simulated stereo])
  • Walt Disney Presents Summer Magic (1963, Buena Vista BV 3309/STER 4025)
  • Burl Ives Presents America's Musical Heritage (1963, Longines Symphonette Society LW 194-LW 199, 6 records)
  • Walt Disney Presents Burl Ives' Animal Folk (1963, Disneyland ST 3920)
  • Walt Disney Presents Burl Ives' Folk Lullabies (1964, Disneyland ST 3924)
  • Scouting Along with Burl Ives (1964, Columbia CSP 347)
  • True Love (Burl Ives album) (1964, Decca DL 4533/74533)
  • Burl Ives Sings Pearly Shells and Other Favorites (1964, Decca DL 4578/74578, reissued as MCA 102)
  • Chim Chim Cher-ee And Other Children's Choices (1964, Disneyland ST 3927)
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (album) (1964, Decca DL 34327/4815/74815)
  • My Gal Sal And Other Favorites (1965, Decca DL 4606/74606)
  • On The Beach At Waikiki (1965, Decca DL 4668/74668)
  • Have a Holly Jolly Christmas (1965, Decca DL 4689/74689, reissued as MCA 237)
  • Shall We Gather At The River? (album) (1965, Word W-3339-LP/WST-8339-LP)
  • The Lollipop Tree (1965, Harmony HL 9551/HS 14551)
  • The Daydreamer (album) (1966, Columbia OL 6540/OS 2940)
  • Burl's Choice (1966, Decca DL 4734/74734)
  • Something Special (Burl Ives album) (1966, Decca DL 4789/74789)
  • I Do Believe (album)|I Do Believe (1967, Word W-3391-LP/WST-8391-LP)
  • Burl Ives Sings (1967, Coronet CXS 271)
  • Greatest Hits (Burl Ives album) (1967, Decca DL 4850/74850)
  • Burl's Broadway (1967, Decca DL 4876/74876)
  • The Big Country Hits (1968, Decca DL 4972/74972)
  • Sweet, Sad And Salty (1968, Decca DL 5028/75028)
  • The Times They Are A-Changin' (1968, Columbia CS 9675)
  • Christmas Album (Burl Ives album) (1968, Columbia CS 9728)
  • Burl Ives Sings Softly And Tenderly Hymns & Spirituals (1969, Columbia CS 9925)
  • Got The World By The Tail (1969, Harmony HS 11275)
  • Burl Ives Folk Songs And Stories (1969, Columbia CR 21526)
  • Time (Burl Ives album) (1970, Bell 6055, reissued as The Talented Man, 1978, Bulldog 1027)
  • How Great Thou Art (Burl Ives album) (1971, Word WST-8537-LP)
  • A Day At The Zoo With Burl Ives (1972 Disneyland Records 1347)
  • Christmas at the White House (1972, Caedmon TC 1415)
  • Payin' My Dues Again (1973, MCA 318)
  • Song Book (Burl Ives album) (1973, MCA Coral CB 20029)
  • Little Red Caboose And Other Children's Hits (1974, Disneyland 1359)
  • The Best Of Burl Ives, Vol. 2 (1975, MCA 4089, 2 records)
  • Hugo The Hippo (album) (1976, United Artists LA-637-G)
  • Christmas by the Bay (1977, United States Navy Band)
  • We Americans: A Musical Journey With Burl Ives (1978, National Geographic Society NGS 07806)
  • Live In Europe (Burl Ives album) (1979, Polydor 2382094)
  • The Special Magic Of Burl Ives (1981, MCA MSM 35043)
  • Burl Ives Twelve Days Of Christmas (19??, Pickwick Records SPC 1018)

Hit singles

Year Single Chart positions
US Country UK AU
1948 "Blue Tail Fly" (With The Andrews Sisters And Vic Schoen's Orchestra) 24 -
1949 "Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly)" (With Captain Stubby And The Buccaneers) 16 13 1
"Riders In The Sky (A Cowboy Legend)" 21 -
1951 "On Top Of Old Smoky" (With Percy Faith And His Orchestra) 10
"The Little White Duck" - - 15
1952 "The Wild Side of Life" (With Grady Martin And The Slewfoot Five) 30 6
1954 "The Parting Song" - 17
"True Love Goes On And On" (With Gordon Jenkins And His Orchestra And Chorus) 23
1957 "Marianne" (With The Trinidaddies) 84
1961 "A Little Bitty Tear" (With The Anita Kerr Singers And Owen Bradley's Orchestra) 9 1 2 9 3
1962 "Funny Way Of Laughin'" (With Owen Bradley's Orchestra) 10 3 9 29 7
"Call Me Mr. In-Between" (With Owen Bradley's Orchestra) 19 6 3 18
"Mary Ann Regrets" (With Owen Bradley's Orchestra And Chorus) 39 13 12 15
1963 "The Same Old Hurt" (With Owen Bradley's Orchestra and Chorus) 91
"Baby Come Home To Me" 131
"I'm The Boss" (With Owen Bradley's Orchestra And Chorus) 111 86
"This Is All I Ask" 67
"It Comes And Goes" 124 94
"True Love Goes On And On" (second entry) 66
1964 "Pearly Shells (Popo O Ewa)" (With Owen Bradley's Orchestra) 60 12 22
1965 "My Gal Sal" (with Owen Bradley's Orchestra) 122
"Chim Chim Cher-ee" 120
1965 "A Holly Jolly Christmas" 46 30
1966 "Evil Off My Mind" 47
1967 "Lonesome 7-7203" 72
1968 "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" (with Robert Mersey's Orchestra) 133 35 28

Singles (selected)

  • Foggy, Foggy Dew / Rodger Young (1945, 10 in., 78 rpm, Decca 23405)
  • Grandfather Kringle / The Twelve Days of Christmas (1951, 10 in., 78 rpm, Columbia MJV-124)
  • Great White Bird / Brighten The Corner Where You Are (1953, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 28849)
  • That's My Heart Strings / The Bus Stop Song (1956, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 30046)
  • We Loves Ye Jimmy / I Never See Maggie Alone (1959, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 30855)
  • A Little Bitty Tear / Shanghied (1961, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31330)
  • Funny Way Of Laughing / Mother Wouldn't Do That (1962, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31371)
  • Call Me Mr. In-Between / What You Gonna Do, Leroy? (1962, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31405)
  • Mary Ann Regrets / How Do You Fall Out Of Love? (1962, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31433)
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas / Indian Christmas Carol (1962, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 25585)
  • I'm The Boss / The Moon Is High (1963, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31504)
  • True Love Goes On And On / I Wonder What's Become Of Sally (1963, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31571)
  • On The Front Porch / Ugly Bug Ball (1963, 7 in., 45 rpm, Buena Vista 419)
  • Four Initials On A Tree /This Is Your Day (1964, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31610)
  • Pearly Shells / What Little Tears are Made of (1964, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31659)
  • Salt Water Guitar / The Story of Bobby Lee Trent (1964, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31811)
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas / Snow for Johnny (1965, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31695)
  • Evil Off My Mind / Taste of Heaven (c. 1967, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 31997)
  • Lonesome 7-7203 / Hollow Words (1967, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 32078)
  • That's Where My Baby Used To Be / Bury The Bottle With Me (1968, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 32282)
  • I'll Be Your Baby Tonight / Maria, If I Could (1968, 7 in., 45 rpm, Columbia 4-44508)
  • Santa Mouse / Oh, What A Lucky Boy I Am (1968, 7 in., 45 rpm, Columbia 4-44711)
  • Gingerbread House / Tumbleweed Snowman (c. 1970, 7 in. 45 rpm, Big Tree BT-130)
  • The Best Is Yet To Come & Stayin' Song / Blue Tail Fly (1972, 7 in., 45 rpm, MCA 1921)
  • Mrs. Johnson's Happiness Emporium / Anytime You Say (1973, 7 in., 45 rpm, Decca 33049)
  • The Tail Of The Comet Kohoutek / A Very Fine Lady (1974, 7 in., 45 rpm, MCA 40175)
  • It's Gonna Be A Mixed Up Christmas / The Christmas Legend Of Monkey Joe (1978, 7 in., 45 & 3313 rpm, Monkey Joe MJ1)
  • The Night Before Christmas / Instrumental (1986, 7 in., 45 rpm, Stillman/Teague STP-1013)

Radio work (selected)

  • Back Where I Came From, CBS (September 30, 1940 – February 28, 1941)
  • The Wayfarin' Stranger, CBS & WOR (1941–1942, 1946–1948)
  • Burl Ives Coffee Club, CBS (July 5, 1941 – January 24, 1942)
  • The Columbia Workshop, CBS
    • "Roadside" (March 2, 1941)
    • "The Log Of The R-77," second installment Of Twenty-Six By Corwin (May 11, 1941)
    • "The People, Yes," third installment of Twenty-Six By Corwin (May 18, 1941)
    • "A Child's History Of Hot Music" (March 15, 1942)
  • GI Jive, military radio (c. 1943)
  • Columbia Presents Corwin, CBS
    • "The Lonesome Train" (March 21, 1944)
    • "El Capitan And The Corporal" (July 25, 1944)
  • The Theatre Guild On The Air, ABC
    • "Sing Out, Sweet Land" (October 21, 1945)
  • Hollywood Star Time, CBS
    • "The Return Of Frank James" (March 10, 1946)
  • The Burl Ives Show, Syndication (1946–1948)
  • Hollywood Fights Back, ABC (November 2, 1947)
  • The Kaiser Traveler, ABC (July 24 – September 4, 1949)
  • Burl Ives Sings, Syndication (1950s)

Theater appearances (selected)

  • Pocahontas Preferred (1935–1936)
  • I Married An Angel (1938)
  • The Boys From Syracuse (November 23, 1938 – June 10, 1939)
  • Heavenly Express (April 18 – May 4, 1940)
  • This Is The Army (July 4 – September 26, 1942)
  • Sing Out Sweet Land (December 27, 1944 – March 24, 1945)
  • She Stoops To Conquer (1950)
  • Knickerbocker Holiday (1950)
  • The Man Who Came To Dinner (1951)
  • Paint Your Wagon (November 12, 1951 – July 19, 1952)
  • Show Boat (1954)
  • Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (March 24, 1955 – November 17, 1956)
  • Dr. Cook's Garden (September 25–30, 1967)

Filmography (selected)


  • Playhouse 90: The Miracle Worker (1957) - Captain Keller
  • Zane Grey Theater "The Ox" (1960) - Jonathan J. Dwire
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) - Samuel The Snowman (voice)
  • O.K. Crackerby! (1965–1966) - O.K. Crackerby
  • Pinocchio (1968) - Geppetto
  • Daniel Boone "A Tall Tale Of Prater Beasely" (1969) - Prater Beaseley
  • The Bold Ones: The Lawyers (1969–1972) - Walter Nicholls
  • Alias Smith and Jones “The McCreedy Bust” (1971-1972) - Big Mac McCreedy
  • Night Gallery "The Other Way Out" (1972) - Old Man Doubleday
  • The First Easter Rabbit (1976) - Old Stuffy (G.B.) (voice)
  • Captains and the Kings (1976) - Old Syrup
  • Little House on the Prairie "The Hunters" (1976) - Samuel Shelby
  • Roots (1977)
  • The Bermuda Depths (1978) - Paulis
  • The New Adventures of Heidi (1978) - Grandfather
  • Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) - Narrator (voice)


  • Smoky (1946) - Willie
  • Green Grass of Wyoming (1948) - Gus
  • Station West (1948) - Hotel Clerk
  • So Dear to My Heart (1948) - Uncle Hiram Douglas
  • Sierra (1950) - Lonesome
  • East of Eden (1955) - Samuel The Sheriff
  • The Power and the Prize (1956) - George Salt
  • A Face in the Crowd (1957) - Himself (uncredited)
  • Desire Under the Elms (1958) - Ephraim Cabot
  • Wind Across The Everglades (1958) - Cottonmouth
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) - Big Daddy Pollitt
  • The Big Country (1958) - Rufus Hannassey
  • Day of the Outlaw (1959) - Jack Bruhn
  • Our Man in Havana (1959) - Dr. Hasselbacher
  • Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960) - Judge Bruce Mallory Sullivan
  • The Spiral Road (1962) - Dr. Brits Jansen
  • Summer Magic (1963) - Osh Popham
  • The Brass Bottle (1964) - Fakrash
  • Ensign Pulver (1964) - Captain Morton
  • The Daydreamer (1966) - Father Neptune (voice)
  • Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (1967) - Phineas T. Barnum
  • The Other Side of Bonnie and Clyde (1968) - Narrator (voice)
  • The McMasters (1970) - McMasters
  • The Heart Farm (1973)
  • Hugo the Hippo (1975) - Narrator (voice)
  • Baker's Hawk (1976) - Mr. McGraw
  • Just You and Me, Kid (1979) - Max
  • Earthbound (1981) - Ned Anderson
  • White Dog (1982) - Carruthers
  • Uphill All the Way (1986) - Sheriff John Catledge
  • Two Moon Junction (1988) - Sheriff Earl Hawkins
  • Alex Saves Christmas (2011) (songs)

Concerts (selected)

  • Royal Winsor, New York City, April 28, 1939
  • Town Hall, New York City, December 1, 1945
  • Opera House, San Francisco, February 9, 1949
  • Columbia University, New York City, October 19, 1950
  • Royal Festival Hall, London, May 10, 1952
  • Albert Hall, London, October 20, 1976
  • Reuben F. Scarf's house, Sydney, Australia, GROW Party, 1977.
  • Royal Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 1979, accompanying The Spinners
  • Chautauqua, New York, 1982 (VHS)
  • Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois, April 27, 1990
  • Brodniak Hall, Anacortes, Washington, 1991 (VHS)
  • Mt. Vernon, Washington, February 1993 (VHS)
  • Folksong U.S.A., 92nd Street Y, New York City, May 17, 1993
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