Prentiss Davis was his name, but viewers of WFBC-TV in the 1950s knew
him as Lonesome Luke. It was written that his background and experience
to that time included radio, television and Broadway.
He had a Saturday afternoon show that ran from 12:15pm to 2:45pm known
as "Looking with Luke" that was quite popular with children of all ages
(and probably a few adults as well).
As testament to that popularity, over 4,000 photos were sent to viewers
based on their written requests to the station.
One of the popular features of his show, based in Piedmont, South Carolina,
was giving the spotlight to a local animal shelter each week, letting listeners
show which animals were available for adoption. Listeners from as far away
as Georgia would make the trip to get one of these pets.
In an October 1948 newspaper article from an unknown newspaper, Prentiss
was to provide music to provide 'atmospheric continuity' between scenes
of a play called "On Borrowed Time" that was being put on at the Greenville (SC)
Little Theatre on Lowndes Hill Road.
That same article mentioned he worked as a folk musician for NBC for two
years in New York appearing on the Red and Blue networks.
He appeared on Broadway for eight months in a musical called "Red Hot and Blue"
that starred Jimmy Durante. Also in the play that was at the Alvin Theater in 1937 were
other entertainment legends such as Bob Hope and Ethel Merman.
While in New York, he shared the bill with the legendary Roy Rogers when
he made his New York debut at the Criterion Theatre in 1938.
In 1948, he was enrolled at Furman where he was majoring in speech and doing
special study in folk music. That study was not just the discovery of old
forgotten ballads, but included the background of the tunes and the locality
where they originated and when they were first found or composed. He is quoted
in the article as stating, "My ambition is to educate the educated people
to an appreciation of the beauty of real mountain music."
The cast in that local play in Greenville included Rufus Dunn, Mrs. Andrea Patterson,
Fletcher Barker, Elizabeth Reed, Walter Adams, Patrick C. Fant, Jayne Baker, T. J. Mims,
Franklin Mims, T. Cotesworth Pinckney and Mac Wells.
The lone article we found noted that he would be remembered for keeping "...the
traditional music of the people alive."
Credits & Sources
- Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its appreciation to Randall
Wells, nephew of Prentiss Davis for contacting us and providing articles and photos
related to the career of Prentiss.
- Country Song Roundup; No. 41; November 1955; American Folk
Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
- Newspaper article; October 14, 1948; Publication Unknown;
Copy provided by Randy Wells, nephew of Prentiss Davis