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Friday, July 1, 2011

I Need a Picture of Durward Kirby

“I need to find a picture of Durward Kirby.” That is a name some of the more mature Newton Falls Public Library staff members have not heard in a long time. Since the patron wanted a photograph to take with him, our search started online. While searching, we discovered that two spellings seem to be used, Durward Kirby and Durwood Kirby.

Curious to see if there was some information in the library’s collection, the staff examined the book Television: the first fifty years by Jeff Greenfield. There was no listing for Durward Kirby, but knowing from the Internet search that he was the sidekick of television host Gary Moore, the staff looked at the pages listed for him. Beneath a photograph of Carol Burnett, Kirby, and Moore, Greenfield states the “One of the most successful variety shows of the late 1950s starred Garry Moore, an amiable performer of no particular talent. His announcer, sidekick, and commercial spokesman, Durwood Kirby, was of similar dimensions.” [Television, p.43.]

Total Television by Alex McNeil includes Durward Kirby’s television history. In 1950 he cohosted Sunday at the Bronx Zoo with William Bridges. That year was also the first time he teamed up with Garry Moore, on the radio show Club Matinee. In 1951 he cohosted Guest House with Oscar Levant, and later in the year moved to the Garry Moore Show until 1958. From 1961-1965, he cohosted The New Candid Camera with Alan Funt. 1966 found Kirby again with Moore on his show.

The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows by David Schwartz, Steve Ryan, and Fred Wostbrock lists Durward Kirby as replacing Oscar Levant as host on General Electric Guest House, a celebrity game show. The show lasted about 8 weeks; Kirby hosting the last 6.  In 1955, Kirby was the announcer for the game show, Make the Connection that was on for 3 months.  That year he was also the announcer for Who Said That, a news quiz show.

We located a selection of photographs online for our patron. BookSteve’s Library  not only has a picture of a young Durward Kirby; it includes a photograph of a Kentucky historical marker commemorating Kirby’s August 24, 1911 birthplace in Covington. At the website Find a Grave  there is also a photograph of Kirby with Garry Moore and one of his headstone. Kirby died March 15, 2000. Internet Movie Database gives additional interesting information including his birth name, Homer Durward Kirby and trivia about him, such as “The generally amiable announcer and second banana shocked his fans in November 1961 when he threatened to file suit against the producers of "The Bullwinkle Show" (1961). The moose and squirrel were involved in an epic multi-part adventure involving a search for the elusive Kirwood Derby.”

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