About The Artist
Stanley Arden Widney was born in Deadwood, South Dakota. His parents were Martin and Electa Widney. His father was a mail carrier per the 1910 census. The family moved to Page County (perhaps Clarinda) Iowa.
Early in his career Stan spent about ten years as a professional actor and director on the stage. Then he found a new career in his home town of Clarinda.
He became a playwright. He wrote several comedy dramas and produced a local pageant. Two of those early plays were "Real Mothers" and "Hot Shot."
When Stan would handle the announcing chores for the WHO Iowa Barn Dance Frolic, he would sometimes be a part of a routine with another performer. One such occasion was captured by Lem Turner in his booklet when they were doing a routine that went something like this:
The Maestro! Stan runs the Barn Dance from start to finish. And he does it without fuss or bother, with no apparent effort at all. But as you listen to one of these shows run like clock-wsork you know there's a master mind at work somewhere. And there is. Of course, Lem wouldn't admit this, but when he and Stan get together it sounds like this:
In addition to hosting the Frolic show, he had other programs on WHO. One was "Odd Facts - Stan Widney Reports." Another was "Junior Stars Revuew - Stan Widney Directs."
In April 1934, Stan filled in for baseball announcer on WOC-WHO, "Dutch" Reagan when he went to visit the White Sox and Cubs training campes. Mr. Reagan would go on to be president of the United States.
In May of 1947, Stan announced his resignation from the Central Broadcasting Co. that owned WHO and broadcast the Iowa Barn Dance Frolic. He had directed the show for ten years. He was going to do free lance radio work. He wanted to specialize in children's radio shows as well as do personal appearance. Cliff Carl, a veteran comedian was to take his place on the Barn Dance.
His first show away from WHO was to be on KRNT — "Uncle Stan's Pet Shop." It was said he would continue with a group or show called the Saddle Serenaders. He was with WHO for 14 years. Prior to that he had spent about 15 years working with stock companies.
After his stroke, he found work in the publicity department of the Iowa state conservation commission. Columnist Mary Kay Kidder included one of his press releases that was about Christmas trees.
"In the late fall the Roman conquerors of Britain were said to have ornamented their temples and homes with greenery and red and purple berries; probaby because the green was gone from the countryside and there was no color anywhere in the bleak wilderness.
In early March of 1958, Stan was hospitalized after suffering a stroke. Initial doctor's reports indicated his speech had been impaired and his upper right arm was paralyzed. A few weeks later, it was reported he had "improved considerably." When he was released from the hospital, he had partial paralysis of his right arm and his speech was still impacted.
By end of 1959, he was an assistant editor and public relations officer for the Iowa conservation commission.
His health became an issue again in August 1962. He underwent exploratory surgery and was reported in 'satisfactory' condition afterwards.
He died of a cerebral hemorhage at Veterans Hospital in October 1962.
Stanley married Ilah Marie Miller on April 16, 1935. She was born October 4, 1909 and died December 5, 1982. They had two daughters, Betty and Karen and a son, Larry.
Credits & Sources
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