Is Being A Good Musician Enough? The Horace Heidt Story. Phantom Dancer Radio Show 5 Dec 17

On this week’s Phantom Dancer, the first all-vinyl set (top of the second hour) is dedicated to band leader, Horace Heidt and his Trianon Ballroom.

Horace Heidt and the Musical Knights produced some of the best-known tunes of the Big Band Era including the 1941 international hit, The Hut-Sut Song.

The Phantom Dancer, presented every week by authentic 1920s-30s singer and band leader, Greg Poppleton, is your non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV. It’s broadcast from 107.3 2SER Sydney to 22 radio stations across Australia and online.

Listen to the past four Phantom Dancers at radio



Horace Heidt was a showman. He hit the big time after fifteen years of running a band by producing and presenting a radio show the US broadcasting regulator, the Federal Communications Commission, called ‘a thinly disguised lottery’ and then forced off air.

“Pot of Gold” featured Horace Heidt and his Musical Knights with singing quartet, The King Sisters, playing popular songs while operators during the broadcast placed three calls to random phone numbers across the U.S.

When someone answered, announcer Ben Grauer shouted “Hold it, Horace, stop the music.” The phone answerer would automatically win $1000 – a huge amount in the late 1930s – whether they had been listening to the show or not.

The show was so popular that cinema operators complained of low movie attendances while Pot of Gold was on air. Some offered $1,000 to anyone who was called while attending their films. How you proved you got the call would have been time consuming and difficult.
Horace Heidt - sheet music



Heidt’s fame as a band leader came through his promotions. Before “Pot of Gold” he produced “Answers by the Dancers,” in which dancers at the Hotel Drake in Chicago were interviewed between rumbas and fox trots.

On his “Treasure Chest” show, married couples celebrating anniversaries would compete for prizes.

In the late 1940 and early 50s, as the big band era wound down and other bands couldn’t book gigs, Heidt’s band continued touring the U.S with his “Youth Opportunity” radio show.

Talented violinist and later Nation of Islam bigwig Louis Farrakhan (formerly Eugene Walcott) was a successful contestant.
Horace Heidt with Louis Farrakhan



Famed Jazz musicians Alvino Rey, Bobby Hackett and Jess Stacy played in the Heidt band at various times.

The band even accompanied a trained dog. “We would play ‘The Bells of St. Mary’s’ and the dog would ring the bells,” Heidt recalled at a 1982 party celebrating seven decades in show business.

Heidt’s smart showbiz sense meant his big band were still playing ballrooms while other bands were shutting down as the Swing Era came to a close after WW2.



Heidt bought the popular Trianon Ballroom in South Gate Ca in the early 40s as a base for his band. On today’s Phantom Dancer you’ll hear air checks by Benny Carter and Lionel Hampton broadcasting from this now long demolished ballroom.

He started a trend for big band leaders to own their own ballrooms after Billboard reported, 10 Jan 1942, that not only had Heidt recouped his $100,000 investment, but he made $40,000 profit through the ballroom in only its first year.

Billboard 3 Feb 1945 reported that Heidt had ‘expanded his outside business holdings’ by buying an exclusive Beverley Hills steak house and renaming it “Horace Heidt’s”, though he didn’t book any live music in the room.

He later went into housing development.
Horace Heidt - developer


Billboard 3 Feb 1945 also reported that Heidt had set up a school in Los Angeles for stammerers. Horace used to stammer himself and he announced that he had developed a foolproof way to stop stammering. He put Leo Neibaur, trombonist and vocal instructor with Heidt’s band, in charge of the school.



By 1946, having bands broadcasting from Horace Heidt’s Trianon, and other ‘danceries’ was getting ‘exsy’, as Billboard, 24 Aug 1946, reported. Another reason Heidt moved from big bands to real estate.
Horace Heidt - Billboard magazine 1946


Now enjoy Horace Heidt’s 1939 version of “Over The Rainbow”. You’ve heard this commercial version on an earlier Phantom Dancer mix, spun by Arthur Godfrey as WJSV Washington DC breakfast announcer on 21 September 1939.
It’s your Phantom Dancer Video of the Week –

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney, Live Stream, Digital Radio
Community Radio Network Show CRN #291

107.3 2SER Tuesday 5 December 2017
After the 2SER 12 noon news, 12:04 – 2:00pm (+11 hours GMT)
National Program:
ArtSoundFM Canberra Sunday 7 – 8pm
and early morning on 22 other stations.

Set 1
Bop Influenced Swing on live 1940s Radio
Open + Nola (theme) + Two Hearts
Vincent Lopez Orchestra
’One Night Stand’
Grill Room
Hotel Taft NYC
AFRTS Re-broadcast
Dorsey Brothers’ Orchestra (voc) Johnny Amoroso
’All-Star Parade of Bands’
Magnolia Room
Hotel Claridge
WMC NBC Memphis
Boo Hoo
Woody Herman’s Third Herd
Starlite Roof
Edgewater Hotel
CBS Madison WI
12 Jul 1950
Set 2
Vocal Groups on the Air
Three Minutes of Music
Allanovy Sestry
Comm Rec
I’m Lucky I Have You
The Inkspots
’Guest Star’
Radio Transcription
New York City
Say Si, Si
Andrew Sisters (voc) Glenn Miller Orchestra
’Chesterfield Show’
3 Jan 1940
Set 3
Glenn Miller Radio 1938-39
Moonlight Serenade (theme) + I Never Knew
Glenn Miller Orchestra
Paradise Restaurant
30 Dec 1938
Moon Love
Glenn Miller Orchestra (voc) Ray Eberle
Glen Island Casino
New Rochelle NY
20 Jun 1939
We Can Live On Love
Glenn Miller Orchestra (voc) Marion Hutton
Glen Island Casino
New Rochelle NY
20 Jun 1939
Set 4
Chamber Music Society on NBC 1940-41
Intro + Beale Street Blues
Henry Levine Dixieland Octet
’Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue New York City
16 Jun 1940
Monday Night Special
Eddie Condon
’Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue New York City
5 Jan 1941
Honeysuckle Rose + Farewell Blues + Basin Street Blues(theme)
Benny Carter (as) + Paul Lavalle’s Woodwinds
’Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue New York City
5 May 1940
Set 5
Horace Heidt and the Trianon Ballroom
History of Music
Horace Heidt and his Musical Knights
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
Melancholy Lullaby (theme) + Old Man River
Benny Carter Orchestra
Trianon Ballroom
South Gate Ca
Moonglow + Swanee River
Lionel Hampton Orchestra
’One Night Stand’
Trianon Ballroom
South Gate Ca
AFRS Re-broadcast
16 Jun 1944
Now is the Hour
Horace Heidt and his Musical Knights
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
Set 6
Drummer Gene Krupa on Radio
Intro + Murdy Purdy
Gene Krupa Orchestra
26 Nov 1938
Wire Brush Stomp
Gene Krupa Trio
’Spotlight Bands’
Newport RI
Blue Network
2 Oct 1944
Gene Krupa Quartet
London House
WBBM CBS Chicago
13 Mar 1959
Gene Krupa Quartet
’Guard Sessions’
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
Set 7
Guy Lombardo 1935-36
Open + Isn’t Love The Grandest Thing?
Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians (voc) Trio
’Esso Boulevard’
7 Oct 1935
When My Dreamboat Comes Home
Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians (voc) Lebert Lombardo
Comm Rec
New York City
17 Sep 1936
Isn’t This a Lovely Day?
Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians (voc) Carmen Lombardo
’Esso Boulevard’
26 Aug 1935
Sweethearts on Parade
Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians (voc) Carmen Lombardo
Comm Rec
New York City
4 Dec 1936
Set 8
Jazz Goes Mod on Radio
I’ve Got Plenty o’ Nothin’
Art Tatum
I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You
Lester Young
’Symphony Sid Show’
27 Nov 1948
Serenade in Vout
Slim Gaillard
’Symphony Sid Show’
29 Sep 1951

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