Seven Entertainers You Never Knew Were From Sedalia
Yes, we all are pretty aware of the Scott Joplin link when it comes to famous Sedalians. But, did you know we have a few others in our history?
In sports, we have: Douglas A. Baker. You might not remember that name, but he was a professional wrestler and actor, better known professionally as Ox Baker. He was famous for his finishing move, the Heart Punch, sometimes called the "Hurt Punch", after Baker's famous catchphrase "I love to hurt people!". He appeared in several movies including Blood Circus and Escape from New York. Here's Ox in action from some of the golden age of wrestling (at least in my opinion... the 80s were awesome).
We also have quite a few actors. Jack Oakie was an actor, starring mostly in films, but also working on stage, radio and television. He is best remembered for portraying Napaloni in Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940), receiving a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Me being a Chaplin nerd, that was a big deal to me. Jack comes in about a minute into this video:
See that excellent physical comedy? Amazing.
Dorothy Dwan was a film actress. She appeared in 40 films between 1922 and 1930. Born Dorothy Ilgenfritz (and I think some of the kids who had scholarships in our area know that name, for sure) she married three times. Dwan died in Ventura, California from lung cancer, aged 74. She made a lot of great stuff, and you can see this one that has her working with none other than Oliver Hardy!
Meanwhile in Comedy, we have Will Franken. Will Franken is a character comedian satirist, mimic and actor based in London, England. Born and raised in Sedalia, he pursued an acting career and taught high school in New York City after college. Now he lives in England and does a lot of TV there.
Lucille McVey, also known as Mrs Sidney Drew, was a screenwriter, director, producer and actress. In the early 1900s, she was part with her husband Sidney Drew of the famous comedy duo Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew.
In the literary world, we have June Rae Wood. She's an author. One of her books, The Man Who Loved Clowns, won the Mark Twain Award and William Allen White Award in 1995. It's a book about coping with mental disability in the family. The story is based on Wood's personal experience of life with her brother Richard, who himself had Down's Syndrome. She wrote a sequel to it that was very successful as well.
And in music, we have someone who is KIND of from Sedalia - Leroy Van Dyke. According to his official bio he's from "rural Pettis County", but I think the fact that we have a street named after him gives us the right to claim him. In his 50 years-plus career, Van Dyke has recorded more than 500 songs, dozens of them making the charts. His hits include: "The Auctioneer", "If A Woman Answers", "Black Cloud", "Big Man In A Big House", "Anne Of A Thousand Days", "Happy To Be Unhappy", "Night People", "Be A Good Girl", "Dim Dark Corner", "Five Steps Away", "How Long Must You Keep Me A Secret", "Afraid Of A Heartache", "Big Wide Wonderful World Of Country Music", "Birmingham", "Just A State Of Mind", "Mr. Professor", "My World Is Caving In", "The Other Boys Are Talking", "Poor Guy", "Roses From A Stranger", "Texas Tea", "Who’s Gonna Run The Truck Stop In Tuba City When I’m Gone", "Wrong Side Of The Tracks", "Your Daughter Cried All Night", "Your Money" and "The Life You Offered Me".... as well as one of his biggest:
His record of "Walk On By" was named by Billboard magazine in 1994 as the biggest country single of all time, based on sales, plays and weeks in the charts. It stayed at number one in the U.S. country chart for 19 weeks, and in all, charted for 42 weeks, also reaching No. 5 on the pop listings. It sold more than 1.5 million copies.
And now you know........part of the story.