Burl Ives

Actor, Singer, Writer
Described by one writer as "a character long before he became an actor," Burl Ives went from humble origins to become one of the world's most beloved folk singers as well as a widely respected film, stage, radio and ... Read more »
Born: 06/14/1909 in Hunt City Township, Illinois, USA


Actor (48)

White Dog 1991 (Movie)

Carruthers (Actor)

Two Moon Junction 1988 (Movie)

Sheriff Earl Hawkins (Actor)

Uphill All the Way 1986 (Movie)

Sheriff (Actor)

Earthbound 1981 (Movie)

Ned Anderson (Actor)

Just You and Me, Kid 1979 (Movie)

Max (Actor)

Hugo the Hippo 1978 (Movie)


The Bermuda Depths 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)


The Bermuda Depths 1977 (Movie)


Baker's Hawk 1976 (Movie)

Mr McGraw (Actor)

The Glen Campbell Special: The Musical West 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)


Monsanto Night Presents Burl Ives 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)


The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)


Pinocchio 1968 - 1969 (TV Show)


The McMasters 1969 (Movie)


Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon 1966 (Movie)


O.K. Crackerby 1965 - 1966 (TV Show)


The Daydreamer 1965 (Movie)


Ensign Pulver 1964 (Movie)

Captain (Actor)

Summer Magic 1963 (Movie)

Osh Popham (Actor)

The Brass Bottle 1963 (Movie)

Fakrash (Actor)

Zane Grey Theater 1956 - 1962 (TV Show)


The Spiral Road 1961 (Movie)

Brits Jansen (Actor)

Let No Man Write My Epitaph 1960 (Movie)

Judge Bruce Mallory (Actor)

The Red Skelton Chevy Special 1959 - 1960 (TV Show)


Our Man in Havana 1959 (Movie)

Dr Hasselbacher (Actor)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958 (Movie)

Big Daddy Pollitt (Actor)

Day of the Outlaw 1958 (Movie)

Jack Bruhn (Actor)

Desire Under the Elms 1958 (Movie)

Ephraim Cabot (Actor)

The Big Country 1958 (Movie)

Rufus Hannassey (Actor)

Wind Across the Everglades 1958 (Movie)

Cottonmouth (Actor)

A Face in the Crowd 1957 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Power and the Prize 1956 (Movie)

George Salt (Actor)

East of Eden 1955 (Movie)

Sam--the Sheriff (Actor)

Green Grass of Wyoming 1948 (Movie)


Station West 1948 (Movie)

Hotel Clerk (Actor)

Alias Smith and Jones (TV Show)


Captains and the Kings (TV Show)


Daniel Boone (TV Show)


Roots (TV Show)


Smoky (Movie)

Bill (Actor)

So Dear to My Heart (Movie)

Uncle Hiram (Actor)

The Ewok Adventure (TV Show)


The First Easter Rabbit (TV Show)


The New Adventures of Heidi (TV Show)


The Sound of Anger (TV Show)


The Whole World Is Watching (TV Show)

Music (12)

The Fantastic Mr. Fox 2009 (Movie)

("Buckeye Jim") (Song)

The Fantastic Mr. Fox 2009 (Movie)

("Fooba Wooba John") (Song Performer)

Expired 2008 (Movie)

("Holly Jolly Christmas") (Song Performer)

Big Momma's House 2 2006 (Movie)

("Little White Duck") (Song Performer)

Bad Santa 2003 (Movie)

("Holly Jolly Christmas") (Song Performer)

Radio 2003 (Movie)

("A Holly Jolly Christmas") (Song Performer)

The Wedding Planner 2001 (Movie)

("Cowboy's Lament") (Song)

The Family Man 2000 (Movie)

("A Holly Jolly Christmas") (Song Performer)

Fools Rush In 1997 (Movie)

("Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town") (Song Performer)

The Ref 1994 (Movie)

("A Holly Jolly Christmas") (Song Performer)

True Romance 1993 (Movie)

("A Little Bitty Tear") (Song Performer)

Gun Glory 1957 (Movie)

("The Ninety and Nine") (Song Performer)


Described by one writer as "a character long before he became an actor," Burl Ives went from humble origins to become one of the world's most beloved folk singers as well as a widely respected film, stage, radio and television performer. Weighing in the neighbourhood of 300 pounds, "Big Daddy" Ives was larger than life in other ways, too, captivating audiences with his incredible voice, vast repertoire of traditional ballads - more than 3,400, according to the Library of Congress - and a gentlemanly, homespun persona. After establishing himself on radio as the "Wayfarin' Stranger" and on Broadway in hits like "Sing Out, Sweet Land" (1944-45), Ives became a much-in-demand character actor via such major movies as "East of Eden" (1955), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958) and "The Big Country" (1958), winning a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for the latter. In between ongoing film, stage, and radio work, Ives continued to rack up a truly impressive array of best-selling songs, including "Blue Tail Fly," "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "A Little Bitty Tear." He also garnered two more hits via his participation in Rankin-Bass' beloved "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" (NBC, 1964), which would become a part of the TV Yuletide lineup every year since its original airing. During a professional career lasting more than five decades, Ives entertained audiences all over the world, made several hundred recordings heard on over 90 records, and more than earned himself the oft cited title of America's greatest folk singer.


Cordella Ives


Helen Erlich

Divorced 1971; she won custody of their son Alexander

Frank Ives


Alexander Ives

survived him adopted with first wife Helen Peck Erlich

Kevin Ives

from wife Dorothy's previous marriage survived him

Robbie Ives

from wife Dorothy's previous marriage survived him

Dorothy Koster Casting

Married 1971 until his death April 14, 1995 Co-wrote 1988 stage production "The Mystic Trumpeter-Walt Whitman at 70"


Eastern Illinois State Teachers College physical education

1927 - 1930
dropped out during senior year to roam "the country from one end to the other with my guitar over my shoulder"; donated the suit he wore as Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" to his alma mater; school name later changed to Eastern Illinois University

The Juilliard School

New York , New York



Last feature acting credit, "Two Moon Junction"


Final small screen appearance as F W Woolworth in the miniseries, "Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story" (NBC)


Final TV-movie, "The Bermuda Depths" (ABC)


Provided the voice of the Great Easter Bunny in CBS' "The First Easter Rabbit"


Acted in acclaimed ABC miniseries "Roots"


First TV miniseries, "Captains and the Kings" (NBC)


TV-movie debut, "The Sound of Anger" (NBC), portraying lawyer Walter Nichols


Played Gepitto in "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "Pinocchio" (NBC)


Portrayed title role of short-lived ABC series "O.K. Crackerby"


TV series debut as Prater Beasley on "Daniel Boone" (NBC)


Narrated English-language version of "Mediterranean Holiday"; also performed songs on the soundtrack


Credited as the host, narrator, voice and song performer for the animated classic, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"


Hosted the first of many holiday televised specials, "Holiday U.S.A."


Reprised his role as Big Daddy Pollitt in Richard Brooks' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"


Won Supporting Actor Oscar for "The Big Country"


Appeared as a panelist on the game show "High Low Quiz"


TV debut with a guest spot on the Western series "Zane Grey Theater"


Collaborated with Elia Kazan on "East of Eden" (as Sam, the town sheriff) and on the original Broadway stage production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", for which he created his signature role of Big Daddy Pollitt


Starred on Broadway in a revival of "Showboat"


First starring role in the children's feature "So Dear to My Heart"


Feature debut with a singing role in "Smoky"


Made his NYC stage debut in the Rodgers and Hart musical "I Married an Angel"

Performed as a child singing at church and community gatherings

Reprised Nichols in "The Lawyers", seen as one-third of the rotating segments of "The Bold Ones" (NBC)

Popular songs include "A Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Appeared in several Broadway shows, including "The Boys From Syracuse" (1938, by Rodgers and Hart), "This Is the Army" (1942, Irving Berlin) and "Sing Out, Sweet Land" (1944)

Bonus Trivia


Ives was the recipient of the Minnesota Heritage Award, the Carl Sandburg Award, the National Boy Scouts Award and the Crystal Humanitarian Award (given by the Crystal Cathedral), as well as being the Lincoln Laureate (State of Illinois). He also received an Honorary Doctor of Law from Farleigh Dickinson University, an Honorary Doctor of Music from Carl Sandburg College and the US Navy's "E" Award.