Kay Kyser facts for kids

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Kay Kyser
Kay Kyser in the film Stage Door Canteen (1943).
Background information
Origin Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Genres big band, swing
Occupations vocalist and bandleader
Years active 1938 – 1950

James Kern (“Kay”) Kyser (June 18, 1905, Rocky Mount, North CarolinaJuly 24, 1985) was a famous bandleader and one of the first to become a radio celebrity.

He was the son of pharmacists Paul and Emily Royster Howell Kyser, and a cousin of Vermont C. Royster. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, his campus popularity and enthusiasm as a cheerleader caused him to be invited to join a commercial band being formed by other students. Although he started clarinet lessons, he was better as an entertaining announcer for the band than as a musician. He adopted the initial of his middle name as part of his stage name, for its alliterative effect.

Kyser came up with an act that was part musical, quiz and singing. This was brought to Mutual Radio in 1938 then to NBC Radio in 1939. The show was called Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge and was a great hit. He starred as “The Ol’ Perfessor,” with his catchphrases “That’s right—you’re wrong,” “Evenin’ folks, how y’all?” and “Yess-dance! Yess-dance!” “Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge” ran on radio until 1949.

Kyser died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina from a heart attack at the age of 80.

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