This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jack Kirkwood (1894-1964)

Jack Kirkwood was born August 8, 1894, in Scotland and moved to the United States as an adult to become a vaudeville entertainer. A popular radio celebrity in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1920s and 1930s, he didn't receive wider acclaim until he moved from KFRC to KPO to star in Mirth and Madness, with his wife, Lillian Leigh. It was heard five days a week on the West Coast stations of the NBC network. In 1945, he moved to CBS with a similar program.

Eventually, Jack moved to Los Angeles and started performing a regional ABC series called At Home with the Kirkwoods. Jack was a performer who could do any kind of radio program from comedy to drama and everything in between.

It is comedy that made him famous, especially with comedians based on the West Coast. When he moved to L.A. he was warmly received by both his peers and his public.

One comedic element which Jack Kirkwood invented was the slow death. Used in Westerns, it worked like this... A man was shot and he fell to the ground. Someone would get up to ask if he had any last words. And the dying man would talk for 15 minutes before becoming completely dead.

Jack also appeared on other shows... Bob Hope, Alan Young, Fibber McGee and Molly, Ozzie and Harriet, and Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy. He also appeared in a few motion pictures.

He moved to Las Vegas in the early '60s and died there on August 2, 1964, six days shy of his seventieth birthday.

Jack Kirkwood was one of the funniest men on the radio who is all but forgotten today.


Katjo said...

Jack Kirkwood is my cousin's, Lindene, grandfather. She toold me that Jack Kirkwood was born in Ireland NOT Scotland.

njkirkwood said...

I think Jack Kirkwood may be my great uncle. Would love to talk to Lindene.

LoyalTubist said...

I couldn't find any record's of Kirkwood's death. I'm sure you're right that he was born in Ireland but I will update that when I get a copy of his death certificate. (But even that can be wrong...)


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