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Hoffman Hayride (KGO-TV)
San Franicsco, CA
Year Started:  1949
Date Started:  May 11, 1949
Year Ended:  1956

Hoffman Hayride (KGO-TV)

Hoffman Hayride Ad - May 18 1949

The Hoffman Hayride that debuted on KGO-TV (Channel 7) in San Francisco on May 11, 1949, was part of the development of television as an entertainment medium. The show that featured Dude Martin and His Round-Up Gang appears to have been one of the more successful versions of a live entertainment program that the Hoffman Radio Corporation sponsored to help promote the sales of televisions. Later, Dude Martin went to Los Angeles, but the Hoffman people rebooted the Hoffman Hayride over KPIX-TV with a new host - Cottonseed Clark. We will delve a bit into the early television history, but let's first read about the Hoffman Hayride program.

Television was a not a 24 hour a day seven day a week operation as it later became. KGO-TV went on the air on May 5, 1949. On May 11, KGO's broadcast day began at 7:00pm with a program emceed by Neil Hamilton called "Hollywood Screen Test". At 8:00pm, it was the Hoffman Hayride. At 8:30pm, it was "TV Jackpot". And to end the day, at 9:00pm it was a program called "On Trial: Should Congress Enact A Veteran's Pension?"

In the weeks prior to its on-air debut, KGO-TV ran an ad letting readers and owners of television sets in the Bay area what to expect when it went on the air. KGO would air its test pattern from 10:00am to 10:00pm daily so viewers could adjust their set to enable good reception of Channel 7. Its 508 foot tall antenna was atop Sutro Mountain. After its opening night on May 5, the station would be on the air from Tuesday through Saturday each week with a regular schedule of programs. The station billed itself as "...your new way to look at life."

The first instance of the show was hosted by popular San Francisco disc jockey Dude Martin. He owned an 1,100 acre ranch in the Pittsburgh, California area. He did his shows, held entertainment gigs on the ranch and did personal appearances around the area for his show's sponsors.

The show aired over local television station KCO-TV but did air at various facilities usually locations that sold Hoffman Televisions. On Wednesday, September 21, 1949, one such show was to be at the Jacksons television theatre. The store had only been in business one year and this show was to celebrate its first anniversary.

Hoffman Hayride Broadcast Ad - 1949 On November 16, 1949, the show was going to be broadcast from the Berkeley High School Little Theatre and sponsored by "The Electrical Living Shop" on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, California. They were advertising Hoffman's new 19 inch television model with a "direct view picture" for only $599.

In a report of the event, the local paper reported that the station had three $12,000 cameras to broadcast the live show hosted by Dude Martin. It was the first "live" broadcast originating in Berkeley other than local University of California football games.

A week later, the show was doing another broadcasting 'first' in the area. The show was to be broadcast on November 30, 1949 from the Hayward Union High School auditorium at 8pm. The sponsors of the show were the Hayward area Chamber of Commerce headed by Roger Anderson. Tickets were to be sold at Lustig's, Hauschildt's, Alcalde Radio, B-B Home Furnishing and Ashland furniture stores. Guesting on the show was comedian Hi Pockets. Also appearing were Clara and Clyde Sandoval who had won the Television Talent search contest in conjunction with Hayward's "first" Farm, Home and Industry show. And it should be of no surprise that one of the winners in the preliminary talent contests won a Hoffman radio.

In May 1950, Bob Franklin told readers that the Hoffman Hayride and Dude Martin were celebrating a first year anniversary. The show was broadcast from various venues around the bay area and won an Emmy for best local show.

Dude Martin Ad - 1949

Later in the month, Mr. Franklin reported that show number 55 on May 24, 1950 was to originate from the Scottish Rite auditorium in San Francisco as part of the World Trade Week and World Trade Fair going on. That show was to feature some new talent - Pat Shirley and Beverly Tobey along with "the fast man on the guitar" Rusty Draper.

We are not able to definitely determine when the show ended, but we read the obituary for Harry (Ted) Johnson who died in may 2011 that indicated the show was on for perhaps three years. Ted was Dude Martin's bandleader, accordion player and musical arranger.

But the show Hoffman Hayride returned in 1953 but would now be hosted by Cottonseed Clark and air over KPIX-TV. Bob Foster wrote a bit about the return of the show in an August 1953 article. The new version of the show was just a 30-minute show. Cottonseed was well known in the area and working at radio station KVSM in San Mateo. That first show included such well known names as Eddie Dean and Carolina Cotton from Hollywood way along with a talented actor-singer named Dusty Dale. And a young female by the name of Marilyn Orlando.

But while Mr. Foster said that Cottonseed had "...made the new Hoffman Hayride a must...", he also did not mince his criticisms. Mr. Foster pointed out some 'weak spots' in the show. One was Big Jim DeNoon, a talented singer who led the show's band. But he said the 'orchestra' was "...not the best group of western musicians..." and he questioned whether Big Jim could carry the show with its fast cues and split second changes. He noted that "...several of his instrumentalists put on good performances ... for dance halls ... but were sloppy on their solo renditions and obviously doing a great deal of faking (recorded music?) and quite noticeable to the musicians and audience. Mr. Foster also indicated that the producer of the show Charlotte Morris was "okeh" in the direction but was presented in an uninspired manner. Mr. Foster strongly hinted to Cottonseed that those weaknesses needed to be fix - quickly.

But Mr. Foster did mention that he was very impressed by the one of the performers. He said the star of the show was a ten-year old girl by the name of Marilyn Orlando. He said she "...just drips showmanship, has a fine voice and will go a long, long way in show business." He said her rendition of "Johnny Is The Boy For Me" reminded him of the early singing of Sue Thompson and wanted to see more of her on the show in the future.

Later in 1953, Mr. Foster wrote of his impressions of Patti Prichard who appeared on the show and did a rendition of "Riccochet" that said was the best he had heard of that tune which was done by Teresa Brewer at the time. Patti also did the tune on the local Les Malloy show. Mr. Foster noted that he had first noticed Patti four years previously on the "Jay Grill Show". About a month later, he complimented the show on the duet numbers that Eddie Dean and Patti Prichard were doing. Mr. Foster seemed to be trying to take credit for that duo by stating he had suggested the sing together.

Mr. Foster wrote in a feature article commemorating the first anniversary of the new version of the Hoffman Hayride that "...there is little question that appearing on the Hoffman Hayride has helped Patti Prichard become San Francisco's top female television star."

The show impacted a few careers as well. One was Dusty Dale. He won a local TV Emmy award for makeup and was doing stints at a night club in Oakland with a limited following. Appearing on the Hayride show made him a much sought after character actor and singer.

Mr. Foster indicates that Nat Sinclair was the producer and Forrester Mashbier the director. He also indicated that Cottonseed had signed a 104-week contract with Hoffman Television, meaning the show would be on television another two years.

In September 1954, a news item indicated a reporter took in the show at the Santa Clara County Fair and had more than 6,000 in the audience in the fairgrounds grandstand. The show was being aired over KOVR for a half-hour each week. Marilyn Orlando made a return to the scene where she won a talent context at the fair that got her entertainment career on the upswing. The reporter noted that Russ Petit made sure the young lady received a bouquet of flowers to mark her return, now as a featured star of the Hoffman Hayride.

But that same night was a perhaps sad occasion for one of the show's other female singers, Patti Prichard. She had her own show that aired on Friday nights at 6pm. Which made it impossible for her to do the show in Stockton with the rest of the Hayride gang. That night at the fair was her last appearance as a cast member of the Hoffman Hayride. Getting to the show itself proved to be a memorable experience for Patti. She received a police escort from San Francisco from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's office when she left her show on KPIX at 6:15pm. The article noted "...she hung on for dear life..." as the escort made its way to the Santa Clara fairgrounds in just under an hour.

That show also featured a technical disruption as the power went out for a short time. But KOVR still ran the entire show for its viewers but not as scheduled.

In 1955, the show received a couple of local Emmy awards. Dusty Dale repeated as a winner for makeup. Big Jim DeNoon (despite the criticism of Mr. Foster) won as best musical performer.

In March 1955, readers were told that the Hoffman Hayride would return to KOVR on April 2. However Cottonseed Clark or Big Jim DeNoon would not be a part of the show nor would any of the other regulars. The new version of the show would feature Bob Kennedy and "...will be less expensive than the other Hoffman Hayrides..." The reporter noted that from what he had seen, "...it won't hold a candle to either Dude Martin or Cottonseed Clark's versions." But we also wonder how does that reconcile to the reported two year contract that Cottonseed had signed for the show?

Jess Willard

Bill Carter

Marilyn Orlando

Dude Martin

Johnny Guess

Carolina Cotton

Dick Stewart


Credits & Sources

  • San Francisco Chronicle; April 21, 1949; San Francisco, CA
  • San Francisco Chronicle; May 5, 1949; San Francisco, CA
  • San Francisco Chronicle; May 11, 1949; San Francisco, CA
  • Oakland Tribune; September 19, 1949; Oakland, CA
  • The Berkeley Daily Gazette; November 15, 1949; Berkeley, CA
  • The Berkeley Daily Gazette; November 17, 1949; Berkeley, CA
  • The Daily Review; November 25, 1949; Hayward, CA
  • Oakland Tribune; May 3, 1950; Oakland, CA
  • Oakland Tribune; May 24, 1950; Oakland, CA
  • San Mateo Times; August 8, 1953; San Mateo, CA
  • San Mateo Times; November 28, 1953; San Mateo, CA
  • San Mateo Times; December 19, 1953; San Mateo, CA
  • San Mateo Times; July 27, 1954; San Mateo, CA
  • San Mateo Times; September 20, 1954; San Mateo, CA
  • San Mateo Times; February 28, 1955; San Mateo, CA
  • San Mateo Times; March 25, 1955; San Mateo, CA
  • East Bay Times; May 25, 2011; Walnut Creek, CA


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