Juliette Canova (1913 - 1983)

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Nicknames: "The Ozark Nightingale", "Queen of Corn", "Queen of the Air 1949", "Jenny Lind of the Ozarks"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Starke, Florida, USA
Death: Died in Hollywood, California, USA
Cause of death: cancer
Occupation: Comedienne, actress, singer and radio personality
Managed by: Tina
Last Updated:
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About Juliette Canova

Best remembered today as a comic actress, Judy Canova also cut her share of records from the early '30s and into the end of the '50s. As either actress or singer, however, she was a most unlikely success story. Canova was honored with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the film industry at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard and a second star for her radio career at 6777 Hollywood Boulevard.

She was born Juliette Canova in Starke, Florida on November 20, 1913 to Joseph Francis Canova, a businessman, and Henrietta Perry, a singer. Canova is a descendants of the Spanish Minorcan Island group.

Canova began her career as a child in her family's vaudeville act when she joined her sister Annie and brother Zeke, and their performances as the Three Georgia Crackers. She had adopted the stage name Judy and the trio, known as the Three Georgia Crackers, told jokes and sang songs on the radio in Jacksonville, which led to bookings for nightclub performances in New York. The trio was signed to the American Record Company in 1931, cutting hillbilly novelty songs, and later appeared in a Broadway revue entitled Calling All Stars.

Following Calling All Stars, she made her debut onscreen as a Warner Bros. contract player, specializing in comedic material. The most notable of these early appearances was in the film In Caliente, doing a comical rendition of the then-current hit "The Lady in Red" under the direction of Busby Berkeley. Then it was back to Broadway to the Ziegfeld Follies, and then more work with her brother and sister. The trio even made it onto television before the decade was out. They were likely the first country group to perform in the new medium, courtesy of NBC's experimental broadcasting in 1939.

Canova had played bit parts in movies like Thrill of a Lifetime (starring Betty Grable and Dorothy Lamour) and Artists and Models (with Jack Benny and Ida Lupino). These were walk-ons, however, and nothing better came along from the major studios. Then in 1940, she received an offer of a contract from Republic Pictures, the biggest of Hollywood's "B" movie studios. Republic specialized in producing high-quality serials and entertaining low-budget comedies, Westerns, and action films.

Her first film for Republic, Scatterbrain, gave Canova star billing, and this was her breakthrough. She proved a sympathetic figure on the screen, the kind of persona audiences loved to root for. Sis Hopkins followed and was the movie that cemented her image. Canova played an innocent good-natured country waif new to the big city, whose honesty and fortitude allowed her to triumph over the more sophisticated people around her. She made 13 movies for Republic in 15 years, never veering from the role of the corn-fed Cinderella. She often worked opposite the likes of such then-popular comedians as Jerry Colonna and Joe E. Brown, and her co-stars included up-and-coming players like Susan Hayward.

During the early '40s, she was signed to RCA/Victor and she later also cut sides for the Okeh, Mercury, and Varsity labels. She also got her own radio program, The Judy Canova Show on CBS, beginning in 1943, which proved even more successful than her movies. In 1945, the program moved to NBC and became one of the Top Ten most popular radio shows in the country, drawing 18 million listeners at the peak of her career. A mix of country comedy and music, Canova's program was the forerunner to television series such as The Beverly Hillbillies. There was a serious, patriotic side to her work during World War II, when one of her most popular numbers was her show-closer, a version of the Patsy Montana song "Good Night Soldier." She also sold a lot of War Bonds and entertained thousands of soldiers.

Canova's radio show ended in 1953 and she never made the jump to television. She preferred doing guest appearances in the new medium, in between engagements in Las Vegas and other personal appearances. Her last film performance was in the 1960 feature Huckleberry Finn and she was seldom seen after that, apart from rare guest spots on shows such as Pistols 'N Petticoats in the 1960s, in which she again exploited her hillbilly persona. Her daughter Diana, born in 1953, emerged as an actress in the late '70s with appearances on shows like Happy Days, before getting starring roles in Soap and I'm a Big Girl Now.

Judy Canova died on August 5, 1983 after a long battle with cancer. Her ashes were interred in the secluded Columbarium of Everlasting Light section, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California among those of her siblings Anne (1901–1994), and Zeke Canova (1898–1980).

Source: Wikipedia, CMT

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Judy Canova's Timeline

1913
November 20, 1913
Starke, Florida, USA
1936
1936
Age 22
1939
1939
Age 25
1941
1941
Age 27
1943
1943
Age 29
1950
1950
Age 36
1950
Age 36
1983
August 5, 1983
Age 69
Hollywood, California, USA
1983
Age 69
Glendale, California, USA