Ken Murray’s Bill and Coo.
Featuring George Burton’s Real Birds.
And Curly Twiford’s Jimmy the Crow.
Narration by Elizabeth Walters.
Ken Murray (July 14, 1903 – October 12, 1988) was an American entertainer and author.
Murray was born Kenneth Doncourt in New York City to a family of vaudeville performers. According to Murray’s autobiography (Life on a Pogo Stick), he changed his name because he did not want to ride the coattails of his father’s success; he wanted to make a name for himself. Many sources inaccurately list Murray’s birth name as “Don Court.”
He became famous for his “Blackouts,” a stage variety show at the El Capitan Theatre on Vine Street in Hollywood. The Blackouts played to “standing room only” audiences for almost nine years. He was also known for his home movies of celebrities, which he showcased on several TV specials and variety shows.
During World War II, he was one of the many celebrities to volunteer at the Hollywood Canteen. He later was the original host (1945-57) of Queen for a Day, on the Mutual Broadcasting System radio broadcast, which was simulcast on KTSL (now KCBS-TV), Channel 2 in Los Angeles. In 1947, he produced Bill and Coo, a feature film cleverly using trained birds and other animals as actors. He was also the host of The Ken Murray Show, a weekly music and comedy show on CBS Television that ran between 1950 and 1953.
Murray filmed Hollywood celebrities and collected them in compilation films such as Hollywood Without Make-Up (1963). In the early 1960s, his short films were used to fill time when network movies ran short of the hour.