Presidential Candidate 1952
Stuart Hamblen, the country and gospel music legend whose mid-life repudiation of alcohol led to run against President Eisenhower and a Prohibitionist, died 1 March 1989 at the age of 80, of complications from a cancer operation.
Hamblen's career on radio, in the theatre, and in motion pictures spanned 50 years.
During the 1950s, Hamblen wrote several songs that cemented his place in gospel and country music history. He is best known for his spiritual tunes, such as "It is no Secret what God can Do" and "This Old House." Rosemary Clooney's recoded version of "This Old House" became a million-seller. Other well-known recording artists who preserved his work include Jo Stafford, Kate Smith, Ray Price, Jimmy Dean, and Mahalia Jackson.
Hamblen also hosted "The Cowboy Church" radio show in Los Angeles.
Hamblen was born in Kellysville, Texas, the son of an itinerant Methodist preacher, on 20 October 1908. In chronically poor health, he was sent to work on ranches each summer as a restorative. There, he practiced singing alone on the Texas plains.
After winning a yodeling contest, he used his $50 prize to go to Camden, New Jersey and cut a platter at the Victor Talking Machine Company plant. Money from this recording session took him to Los Angeles and a job as "Cowboy Joe" on radio station KFI.
He became wealthy enough to purchase a stable of race horses and to become a breeder of Peruvian Paso horses. He was a regular rider in the Rose Bowl Parade. An acknowledged alcoholic, Hamblen said his life changed one night when he visited a tent revivial show conducted by Billy Graham. He immediately swore off both alcohol and race horses. He also gave up his $1000/week radio show, after objecting to brewers as sponsors.
In 1933, Hamblen ran for the 20th Congressional District, as a Democrat. He lost to Carl Hinshaw. Eighteen years later, while performing in Indianapolis, Indiana, he was heard by several delegates to the then-ongoing Prohibition Party nominating convention and was persuaded to run for President on the Prohibition ticket.
Data from an AP obituary and from notes by Earl F. Dodge, from the websites (20 Oct 04) mymusicway.com and members.aol.com/HamblenMC/SH.bio, and from Gammon, 2007, pp. 140-141.