Ives, Burl

Ives, Burl (b. Burle Icle Ivanhoe)

(1909–  ) folksinger, songwriter, movie actor; born in Hunt Township, Ill. As a child he sang and played banjo in community shows, and after attending Eastern Illinois State Teacher's College, he briefly played professional football. He set out to travel across the U.S.A., working at odd jobs and singing with his guitar to support himself, adding to his repertoire of traditional American folksongs. In the 1940s he performed in several Broadway shows, including Irving Berlin's This Is the Army (1942). In the 1950s he made several best-selling recordings of folksongs; as "The Wayfaring Stranger" he had a popular radio program; he toured around the world and would go on to produce educational films and publish collections of folksongs—all foreshadowing the folksong revival of the 1960s. Meanwhile, he had been appearing in several movies as a singer, but with his role in East of Eden (1955), he began to show a talent for dramatic acting that culminated in his role as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). He would continue to appear in (or provide the voice for) numerous movies.