Ken Murray's Blackouts


In keeping with tradition of being the entertainment capital of the world, Hollywood has the distinction of being the home of Ken Murray's Blackouts, the longest running variety revue in the history of American theater. Ken Murray started theater goers laughing on June 24, 1942 when the Blackouts first opened at the El Capitan Theater on Vine Street. Murray spent months assembling a group of personalities and acts which included Marie Wilson, a shapely comedienne; the Nicholas Brothers, a negro dance team; Connie Russell, singer; Gene Austin, singer-pianist; Roy Davis, impersonator, and many others. The show was patterned after the old vaudeville performances, however, there was a certain sophistication added which made it appealing to everyone. The opening night audience, which included such entertainment celebrities as Mae West, Al Jolson and Rudy Valee loved the new show. It was only a few weeks before the show played to a packed audience each night. Ken Murray's Blackouts highlighted many remarkable acts, but his real star was Marie Wilson. Playing a dumb blond, she pitched the laughs with Murray, whose jokes were usually directed at her well endowed figure. Even though she was used in some provocative skits (at least for those times), they never went beyond the bounds of good taste. She performed in 3,126 consecutive performances without missing a single show. Other personalities and acts which appeared in Ken Murray's Blackouts were Jack Mulhall, actor; Rennie Renfro and Daisy (The Wonder Dog); The Liphams, an acrobatic act; Fred Sanborn, pantomimist; Mardie and Ray, trick ropers; Joyce Elaine, acrobatic dancer; Bonnie Baker, singer; Burton's Birds, trained bird act; Harold and Lola, exotic dancers; Harris and Shore, comic dancers; Owen McGiveney, quick-clothes change artist; Nick Lucas, singer and guitarist; Peg-Leg Bates, one-legged dancer; Elizabeth Walters, actress; and many and many others. In addition to the many variety acts, Murray opened his show with his "Glamour Lovelies", many of whom later became stars in their own right Rhonda Fleming, Cara Williams and Mary Ford. During the seven years, two months and three days that the show ran, it played 3,844 performances, entertained 4,693,524 patrons, employed 1,456 persons and helped to launch more that one hundred performers on their way to stardom. Today, the Capitol Records tower is across the street. Some of the Hollywood Walk of Fame is in the sidewalk in fron of the building.

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Ken Murray's Blackouts on Vine St.
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Marie Wilson at the Blackouts
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Ken Murray & Marie Wilson at the Blackouts
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Ken Murray's Blackouts on Vine St.
Ken Murray's BlackoutsKen Murray's Blackouts on Vine St.
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1943
Ken Murray's BlackoutsMarie Wilson at the Blackouts
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1943
Ken Murray's BlackoutsKen Murray & Marie Wilson at the Blackouts
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1945
Ken Murray's BlackoutsKen Murray's Blackouts on Vine St.
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1945
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Ken Murray's Blackouts on Vine St.
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Cover of Blackouts Magazine
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Ken Murray's Blackouts on Vine St.
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Ken Murray and the Babylovelies at the Blackouts
Ken Murray's BlackoutsKen Murray's Blackouts on Vine St.
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1945
Ken Murray's BlackoutsCover of Blackouts Magazine
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1946
Ken Murray's BlackoutsKen Murray's Blackouts on Vine St.
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Ken Murray's BlackoutsKen Murray and the Babylovelies at the Blackouts
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1946
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Ken Murray's Blackouts at the El Capitan Theater on Vine St.
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KEN MURRAY'S BLACKOUTS ON VINE ST.
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Ken Murray & Marie Wilson at the Blackouts
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Ken Murray & Marie Wilson at the Blackouts
Ken Murray's BlackoutsKen Murray's Blackouts at the El Capitan Theater on Vine St.
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1947
Ken Murray's BlackoutsKEN MURRAY'S BLACKOUTS ON VINE ST.
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Ken Murray's BlackoutsKen Murray & Marie Wilson at the Blackouts
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Ken Murray's BlackoutsKen Murray & Marie Wilson at the Blackouts
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