Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney
I Said a Prayer for Santa Claus
Total Time: 5:11
Jimmy Boyd (January 9, 1939 – March 7, 2009) was an American singer, musician, and actor. He was best known for his recording of the novelty song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.
James Boyd was born near McComb, Mississippi to Leslie and Winnie Boyd. His father was a farmer and picked cotton to help support his own family of 21 brothers and sisters. When Jimmy Boyd was 2 years old, his father put his wife and their two sons on a train to Riverside, California. With not enough money to buy tickets for himself, Leslie Boyd hitchhiked on freight trains to join his family.
Jimmy Boyd’s grandfather, William Boyd (“Fiddler Bill”) played at dances and family gatherings in Mississippi. Fiddler Bill’s children inherited his talent and they all sang or played musical instruments. Leslie played guitar and harmonica and began teaching Jimmy to play the guitar at 9 years old. Leslie had been a farmer when a drought hit and there were no more crops, so he picked cotton. He could pick over 600 pounds of cotton a day himself, and was paid 25 cents. Although there was no cotton in California to pick, this time they were determined to stay. Leslie got a menial job cleaning up construction sites, quickly becoming an accomplished finish carpenter.
Leslie and Winnie Boyd occasionally took the children to a country and western dance, held in a barn in Colton, California, a few miles from Riverside. Jimmy’s older brother Kenneth, about 9 years old at the time, went up to the bandstand and told the band leader, Texas Jim Lewis, that he should hear his little brother sing and play the guitar. Lewis called little seven-year-old Jimmy up to the stage to sing and play. After the dance was over, Lewis and the manager of a local radio station approached Boyd’s parents to ask if he could be a part of the hour-long radio show they planned to broadcast from the dance every Saturday night, offering to pay Boyd $50 for every appearance.
Leslie Boyd had cataracts in both eyes and required cataract surgery, a serious operation in the 1950s. The operation was performed in Los Angeles. While in L.A., they were told about auditions being held for the Al Jarvis Talent Show on KLAC-TV (now KCOP-TV). Boyd auditioned for Jarvis and appeared on the show that night. He won the contest, and the next day Jarvis and KLAC received numerous telegrams and telephone calls from viewers.
Al Jarvis had a five-hour talk show every day on KLAC-TV with a few regulars on it, including Betty White, called Hollywood On Television. Jarvis immediately announced that Boyd would be a regular on the show. Several appearances singing and doing comedy skits with Frank Sinatra on CBS-TV’s The Frank Sinatra Show soon followed.