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Tennessee Ernie Ford

Mostly Credited As: Tennessee Ernie Ford
Sometimes Credited As: Tennessee Ernie

Birth Name: Ernest Jennings Ford
Date Of Birth: February 13, 1919 (Age 72)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Bristol, Tennessee
Date Of Death: October 17, 1991
Cause Of Death: Liver Disease (Reston, Virginia)

Tennessee Ernie Ford


Born Ernest Jennings Ford on February 13th, 1919 in Bristol, Tennessee, Tennessee Ernie Ford has made an indelible impact on America and the world through his unparalleled accomplishments in radio, records and television...

Throughout his legendary career spanning over 50 years, Ernie Ford's early successes as a radio personality led to his signing with Capitol Records in 1949. Through 1976, he released a total of eighty-three albums on the label--and literally scores of single records, including his classic version of Merle Travis' timeless anthem to the working man, "Sixteen Tons"...at the time of it's release, the fastest selling single in Capitol's history.

Over the years, Ford has sold more than 60 million records worldwide--an astonishing number, even by today's standards. Even more astonishing...to date, more than 40 million of that number represent the body of work he became best known for...gospel, hymns and spirituals. His first album of inspirational music, entitled simply, "Hymns" -released in 1956- remained on Billboard magazine's Top Album chart an unbelievable 277 consecutive weeks, and in November of 1963 was recognized as the largest-selling LP ever recorded by a Capitol artist.

From 1956 to 1965, Ford's top-rated television series' for both NBC and ABC brought not only his voice, but Ernie himself in to the living rooms of homes across the country every week. Through his natural, unaffected charm, friendliness and honesty, Ernie became much more than just a host for his own prime-time variety shows...he became a cherished member of millions of American families...families from every corner of the country, from every walk of life.

Consistently among the highest rated, NBC's, The Ford Show featured all the ingredients of the top variety shows of the day; Hollywood's greatest guest stars, top-of-the-line production, and terrific music. But one simple element separated it from all others...Ford closed virtually every show with a hymn, a spiritual or a song of faith. For the time, it was a bold and powerful statement for a popular entertainer of Ford's stature to be making on live television, especially in the face of the initial objections from Madison Avenue and the network. But it was a statement that would become the trademark of his career, and in many ways, the mark of his life. It would earn him the distinction of almost single-handedly bringing inspirational music into the mainstream of American entertainment...an enduring legacy of the lasting impact that one man's expression of faith can have on millions of people.

In September of 1991, Ernie taped an extended television interview in Los Angeles with his long-time friend, Dinah Shore. Sadly, it was to be his last television appearance. In October, after attending a State Dinner at the White House with then-President and Mrs. Bush, he fell ill while en route to Dulles International Airport. His condition was grave, and though he rallied for a brief time, with his sons at his side, Ernest Jennings Ford passed away October 17th, 1991; thirty-six years to the day after the release of Sixteen Tons.

Tennessee Ernie Ford's half-century legacy is staggering. His unprecedented achievements earned him three stars in The Hollywood Walk of Fame--for Radio, Records and Television. His "Great Gospel Songs" LP with The Jordanaires was 1964's Grammy winner for Best Inspirational Recording. He was the third recipient of The Minnie Pearl Award, for his lifetime of contributions to both Country and Popular music. On October 18th, 1990, he was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, and on March 26th, 1984, President Ronald Reagan presented Ernie with The Presidential Medal of Freedom; the highest honor a sitting President can bestow upon a civilian on behalf of his country...a simple, but eloquent Citation on a single page which perhaps best describes this simple man from Tennessee and the enduring legacy he left to America and the world...

"...America is a nation richer in spirit because of Tennessee Ernie Ford"

TV Appearances

Main cast 
Country Music Association Awards (1967)As: Himself (Host 1969-1971)
The Ford Show (1956)As: Himself (Host 1958 - 1960)
Episode Cast Credits 

Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters (1980) 
  Season 1, Episode 7 01x07: (Jan/17/1981) As Himself 

The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (1971) 
  Show 57 04x14: (Jan/02/1974) As Himself 
  Show 42 03x23: (Mar/14/1973) As Himself 

The Jim Nabors Hour (1969) 
  Season 2, Episode 23 02x23: (Feb/25/1971) As Himself 
  Season 1, Episode 15 01x15: (Jan/08/1970) As Himself 

The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969) 
  Tennessee Ernie Ford, Phil Silvers, Susan Raye 03x17: (Jan/17/1971) As Himself 

The Johnny Cash Show (1969) 
  Season 2, Episode 6 02x06: (Oct/28/1970) As Himself 

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1968) 
  Episode #59 03x19: (Jan/26/1970) As Himself 
  Episode #51 03x11: (Nov/24/1969) As Himself 

Here's Lucy (1968) 
  Lucy and Tennessee Ernie's Fun Farm 01x23: (Mar/10/1969) As Himself 

The Red Skelton Show (1951) 
  Tennessee Ernie Ford 16x30: (Apr/04/1967) As Himself 

The Lucy Show (1962) 
  Lucy and Tennessee Ernie Ford 05x21: (Feb/27/1967) As Homer Higgins 

The Hollywood Palace (1964) 
  Host: Tennessee Ernie Ford 02x33: (May/22/1965) As Himself, [Guest Hosts]

The Jack Benny Program (1950) 
  Tennessee Ernie Ford Show 12x05: (Nov/19/1961) As Himself, [Special Guest Stars]

Make Room for Daddy (1953) 
  Tennessee Ernie Stays for Dinner 06x16: (Jan/19/1959) As Himself 

The Steve Allen Show (1956) 
  NBC Fall Preview 03x01: (Sep/22/1957) As Himself 
  Season 2, Episode 24 02x24: (Mar/31/1957) As Himself 

American Bandstand (1957) 
  AB-34: Patsy Cline / Tennessee Ernie Ford 01x34: (Sep/19/1957) As Himself 

This Is Your Life (1952) (1952) 
  Tommy Sands 05x05: (Apr/10/1957) As Himself 
  Tennessee Ernie Ford 04x07: (Dec/12/1956) As Himself 

The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950) 
  Phil Harris 05x22: (Apr/03/1955) As Himself 

I Love Lucy (1951) 
  Tennessee Bound 04x15: (Jan/24/1955) As Himself 
  Tennesse Ernie Hangs On 03x28: (May/10/1954) As Himself 
  Tennessee Ernie Visits 03x27: (May/03/1954) As Himself 
Featured Songs

Chuck Songs:
Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible + 16 Tons 
Homefront Songs:
If You Want it Done Right . . . + Born to Lose 
American Bandstand Songs:
AB-34: Patsy Cline / Tennessee Ernie Ford + In the Middle of an Island 
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Trivia

On March 26th, 1984, President Ronald Reagan presented Ernie with The Presidential Medal of Freedom; the highest honor a sitting President can bestow upon a civilian on behalf of his country.

Ernie's Great Gospel Songs LP with The Jordanaires was 1964's Grammy winner for Best Inspirational Recording.

Ernie passed away October 17th, 1991; thirty-six years to the day after the release of Sixteen Tons.

In September of 1991, Ernie taped an extended television interview in Los Angeles with his long-time friend, Dinah Shore. Sadly, it was to be his last television appearance.

Over the years, Ernie has sold more than 60 million records worldwide. Most notably more than 40 million of that number represent the body of work he became best known for...gospel, hymns and spirituals.

Ernie Ford's early successes as a radio personality led to his signing with Capitol Records in 1949.

Ernie owned a cattle ranch in California.

Ernie was educated at the Cincinnati Conservatory.

Ernie's Star on the Walk of Fame for his contribution to Television is located at 6311 Hollywood Blvd..

In 1955, Ernie was nominated for an Emmy for Most Outstanding New Personality.

More Trivia
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