The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show

In 1962, after winning an open audition over 1000 other professionals, Hank & Dean were signed as regulars on the ABC-TV "Tennessee Ernie Ford Show." The cast included (back row, left to right) announcer Jim Lange, vocalist Anita Gordon, musical director Jack Fascinato, Dean Kay, (front row, left to right) vocalist Dick Noel (now producer/arranger of Hank's new CDs on Epitomé Records), the old pea-picker Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Hank Jones. Besides singing their own songs every day on the program, Hank & Dean often did numbers with "Old Ern." They also recorded with Ernie on his Capitol hymn album "I Love To Tell The Story," which featured his classic version of "How Great Thou Art!"

Working with all the guest stars on the Ford Show was a real learning experience for Hank & Dean. From Helen Hayes to Andy Devine to Peter Lorre to Patsy Cline to Minnie Pearl to Jimmy Dean to Bobby Rydell to Charlie Weaver - it was never dull! Here are Hank, Dean, and Anita Gordon with Ernie and Bob Hope in 1963 on the show.

Hank & Dean often promoted ABC daytime shows on various press junkets. Here they are in Hollywood with Nick Adams, Dean Jones (with whom Hank was later to work at Disney), and Stephanie Hill.

On the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show one day, Hank was asked, "of all the great people in history, who would you like to spend an hour with?" Other cast members said people like Lincoln and Beethoven, but Hank said "Stan Laurel," his comedy idol. Stan saw the show and, after a series of warm letters, invited Hank to visit him. Hank's friendship with Mr. Hardy's partner was one of the most happy and treasured experiences of his life!

 

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