HORACE HEIDT’S famous MUSICAL KNIGHTS, under the direction of HORACE HEIDT, JR., continue to delight audiences with the big band sound. Once one of the most popular bands in the United States, the MUSICAL KNIGHTS consisted of such all-star musicians as Jess Stacy, Irving Prestopnik, Warren Covington, Shorty Sherock, Frankie Carle, Joe Rushton, Glenn Miller, Bobby Hackett, Red Nichols, Bill Finegan, Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton, Pete Candoli, Benny Carter, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Ernie Passoja, the Triple Tonguing Trumpeteers and many others.
The MUSICAL KNIGHTS were famous for long-term engagements at the Drake Hotel in Chicago and the Biltmore Hotel in New York. They were also very big stars on radio in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, starring in such shows as “Horace Heidt for Alemite,” “Answers by Dancers,” “Treasure Chest,” “Welcome Home,” “Family Night with Horace Heidt,” “The American Way,” and a talent contest, famous on both radio and television entitled, “The Original Youth Opportunity Program” through which HORACE HEIDT, SR. discovered such great stars as Art Carney, Frankie Carle, Gordon MacRae, the King Sisters, Alvino Rey, Ken Berry, Frank DeVol, Dick Contino, Al Hirt, Fred Lowrey, Ronnie Kemper, Larry Cotton, Donna and her Don Juans, Ollie O’Toole and many others. During this period of time the band also had hit records with “Gone With The Wind” (1937), “Ti-Pi-Tin” (1938), “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire” (1941), “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” (1942) and million-seller “It’s In The Book” (1952), America’s first Comedy Record Hit.
The most popular radio show, however, was the “Pot of Gold” which was later made into a movie by the same name starring Jimmy Stewart and Paulette Goddard. The “Pot of Gold” was America’s first give-away money Game Show and for this Horace Heidt, Sr. was awarded a Radio Star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame” in 1960.
During the 1950’s, Horace Heidt Senior starred in two network television shows dedicated to showcasing young performers from all parts of the United States. The show on CBS sponsored by Philip Morris was called “The Original Youth Opportunity Program” and aired Nationally in 1950. The 1955 Network show aired on NBC and was called the “Horace Heidt Swift Show Wagon.” For these two highly successful television shows, Horace Heidt received a second Star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame” in 1960 for his accomplishments in television. Mr. Heidt also served as Honorary Mayor of Van Nuys in 1964.
In 1956, the same year Disneyland opened, Horace fulfilled his life-long dream by building a 180-unit, 10-acre resort apartment complex complete with an 18-hole golf course, the first of its kind in the Valley. It’s not hard to say that Horace Heidt was a true Valley pioneer in entertainment and the San Fernando Valley. He was the first to put a band on the stage in Vaudeville, the first to give away money on radio, the first to discover talent on television, the first to put a big band on television, and the first to build a Palm Springs Style Resort in the San Fernando Valley.
Horace Heidt, Jr., now conducting the MUSICAL KNIGHTS, began his performing career at age three. He is an accomplished vocalist and instrumentalist as well as conductor. Horace, Jr. had his own successful musical show which appeared in many of the top show rooms across the country. For thirteen years, Horace, Jr. was the conductor of the very popular Los Angeles Raiders Band.
In 1984, the band had a hugely successful tour for Columbia Artists, featuring Helen Forrest, Johnny Desmond, and the Modernaires. As a result of that national tour, the band was invited by President Reagan to perform at his prestigious Inaugural Ball, in Washington, D. C.
In 1990, the band once again toured the United States breaking all attendance records. The tour featured John Gary, Martha Tilton, Arthur Duncan, Henry Cuesta and, of course, the Horace Heidt Orchestra.
Critics all over the nation agree that the Musical Knights are one of the top bands in the country. “The Big Band sound never really went out of style,” Heidt maintains. “It’s a classic musical expression that just gets more and more popular.”