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Marc (The Cowboy Crooner) Williams
Born:  October 21, 1903
Died:  June 18, 1974
KFJZ Fort Worth, TX
KRLD Dallas, TX
KSTP St. Paul, MN
WACO Waco, TX
WDRC Hartford, CT
WGY Schenectady, NY
WHO Des Moines, IA
WJR Detroit, MI
WLW Cincinnati, OH
WTIC Hartford, CT

About The Artist

Promo Ad - Brunswick Records - Marc Williams; Haeske's Radio Music Co. ; Bartlesville, OK; 1928 Marcus Dupont Williams was a Texan, born in Midlothian and a graduate of the University of Texas who became Brunswick Records' most noted cowboy singer. A native of Ellis County, south of Dallas, he grew up near the town of Midlothian and may or may not have actually worked for some time in early adulthood as a cattle herder.

Unlike his better known Victor rivals, Carl Sprague and Jules Allen, he also had a two decade career on radio, although much of it under an assumed name.

Marc Williams was better educated than most country-western vocalists and eventually obtained a law degree. Before he began radio work, Marc attended the University of Texas, but by 1928 had begun singing on KRLD in Dallas which also won him a contract with Brunswick.

Oral evidence suggests that he learned many of his songs from the John A Lomax book Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads (1910). Combined with his high quality dictions, it helps explain why he became known as "The Cowboy Crooner."

Promo Ad - KSTP Sunrise Roundup - Marc Williams - 1941 Over the next few years, Williams shifted his radio base to stations in Waco and Fort Worth. He left Texas by 1931 and went to KSTP in St. Paul, where at a theater appearance he actually had his name printed in ads much larger than future Hollywood legend Bob Hope. From there he went eastward where he had programs at WTIC Hartford and WGY Schenectady. Williams recorded for Decca in this period and also published a songbook.

In 1936, Billboard reported that "Happy Hank" had left WTIC in Hartford, CT for WGY in Schenectady, NY. Later on in 1938, Billboard provided a review of the Happy Hank show over WHO in 1938. A fifteen minute program that was sponsored by Little Crow Milling Co.

This program is set daily except Sunday and is sure-fire for the kids and mothers who need help to get the children dressed at this morning hour. Happy Hank booms kid songs, many of which are his own composition, and intersperses dressing contests, pick-up parades, safety reminders with kid humor that appeals particularly to children from ages five to ten. In the comedy line he exploits the antics of "Squeakie" and "Sputters" on the side of Charlie McCarthy, which he plays.

In 1939, Marc went back to the Midwest where he achieved considerable popularity with a children's western-flavored radio program as "Happy Hank." He also appeared on WHO's well received Iowa Barn Dance.

An article in Rural Radio in 1939 provided him with a real cowboy resume intimating that he had participated in actual trail drives from Texas to Montana-highly unlikely considering that trail drives this long had ended in the 1890's. By 1942, his sponsor Coco-Wheat transferred "Happy Hank's base to WJR Detroit where he worked for another decade, adding television to his musical accomplishments. He also returned to college in the mid-1950's and earned a law degree from Wayne State in 1960.

Happy Hank's Slogan Song Books

Promo Ad - Harve Holland's Comedians; Marc Williams; Cowboy Crooner; Waxahachie, TX 1929 Slogan Song Folder No. 1

  1. Be Easy On Your Shoes
  2. Be Helpful to Mother
  3. I Will Stay Healthy
  4. Don't Be A Whiner
  5. Always Do What Mother Wants You To
  6. Use Lots Of Soap And Water
  7. Don't Be A Chatter Box

Promo Ad - Harve Holland's Comedians; Marc Williams; Cowboy Crooner; Waxahachie, TX 1929 Slogan Song Book No. 2

  1. Plant For Victory
  2. Don't Catch Spring Fever
  3. Mud Puddle Song
  4. Hurry Home
  5. Always Be On Time
  6. Don't Play In The Street
  7. Chew, Chew, Chew

Promo Ad - Harve Holland's Comedians; Marc Williams; Cowboy Crooner; Waxahachie, TX 1929 Slogan Song Book No. 3

  1. Guard Your Victory Garden
  2. Get In The Scrap
  3. Be A Good Listener
  4. Be Sure You're Right
  5. Politeness Always Pays
  6. Always Play Fair
  7. Always Keep Your Word

Promo Ad - Harve Holland's Comedians; Marc Williams; Cowboy Crooner; Waxahachie, TX 1929 Slogan Song Book No. 5

  1. I Will Not Be A Waster
  2. Help Yourself
  3. S. U. S. (Sit Up Straight)
  4. Keep Your Clothes Clean
  5. When You Get Made Go Look In The Mirror
  6. Drink Lots Of Water
  7. Don't Be A Wiggle Worm

Promo Ad - Harve Holland's Comedians; Marc Williams; Cowboy Crooner; Waxahachie, TX 1929 Slogan Song Book No. 6

  1. Brush Your Teeth Each Day
  2. Never Be A Grump
  3. I Will Not Tell A Fib
  4. Drink All Your Milk
  5. I Will Not Be A Package Snooper
  6. Make SOmeone Happy This Christmas
  7. This song book includes "An Invitation To Mother" in the second page. He explains the concept behind the slogans, meant for children.

Primary Room News
Humboldt, Iowa — October 1939

We have named our goldfish Freckles and Goldie.

The first grade children read stories from their "Dick and Jane" books to the second and third grade children.

We write Happy Hank's slogan for the week on the blackboard. We try to do what his slogan tells us to.

Rural School News
Moravia, Iowa — November 1939

We are trying to follow "Happy Hank's" slogan we hear over the radio. This week it is "Remember where you put your things."

Promo Ad - Harve Holland's Comedians; Marc Williams; Cowboy Crooner; Waxahachie, TX 1929 Promo Ad - Marc Williams - Idle Hour Theatre - Hardwick VT; 1937

In 1956, while living in Detroit, he dabbled a bit into politics. He ran for a Congressional Representative seat that had been won by Paul Sutton in 1954 and was hoping to repeat. Marc was one of several candidates that put their names in the hat. Others included Zigmund Niparko, Gilbert H. Davis, and Jack L. Ward. The race was for the 18th district in Michigan to replace retiring incumbent George A. Dondero, a Republican. William Broomfield (R) won the election with 56.7% of the vote defeating Paul Sutton who got 43.8%.

Marc Williams as Happy Hank; Squeakie and Popcorn; Circa 1939 Marc was one of 237 applicants that passed the Michigan State Bar exam in September 1960 became an attorney in 1960. He practiced in Detroit for a decade, until 1971 when he went back to Fort Worth and continued legal work. Interviewed by the Star-Telegram in January 1974, he reminisced about his career and expressed a desire to still sing a bit on radio. He told Kathi Miller that he kept his guitar in his office and would take some time to strum it every day.

He started off at KRLD in Dallas and WACO in Waco but he went north for greener pastures he said. "You just couldn't make much money down here in those days." He traded an $18 per week gig at WACO for a $50 a week stint at KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He noted back then, "They had to have live entertainers on the staffs then because they didn't have the constant network feeds they have now."

From there, he went to WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio. He told Ms. Miller it was the only job he was fired from. He said he was doing a 30-minute program and the commercial break came up. The announcer asked him if he could borrow a minute of Marc's time. He said, "Sure, let's seal some of these Frigidaires." The only problem was the show's sponsor was Crosley Refrigerators. Marc in a defensive mode said, "To me, a refrigerator was a Frigidaire. That's just what everybody called them."

The interview delved into his work on children's shows. He said, "The most important thing is you never, never talk down to children."

At the time of the interview, he was a widower and while the couple never had any children of their own, Happy Hank in his hey day would get up to 9,000 letters a day from the small fans.

He told of a memory of a vaudeville theater in Minneapolis where the marquee read "Marc Williams In Person." And underneath his billing, "Also presenting Bob Hope."

While Marc had not done much performing after his return to Fort Worth, he noted, "I can still sting, I could still do a radio show, although people say I'm too old. I'm not going to get old if I can help it."

Promo Ad - WXYZ-TV - Detroit - Marc Williams - January 1956

However, it never happened as he died at work in his law office six months later. Unlike those western singers who recorded for Victor in the 1920's, little detail on "The Cowboy Crooner" was known until recent years. One of his song's was featured by Tony Russell in his newly published volume Rural Rhythm (2021).

Marc's wife, Oral Morrow Williams passed away on October 4, 1970. At the time of her death, she was circulation manager of the Daily Sports News where she had been employed for ten years. She was born Ella Oral Morrow on September 8, 1908 to parents Alfred and Minnie (Stewart) Morrow in Downey Township, Perth County in Ontario, Canada. She had lived in Detroit for 40 years. She was survived by Marc and a son, Jack Norton. She had been previously married to George William Norton (November 30, 1925) when she was 17. Mr. Norton died in 1959. She was buried at the Avondale Cemetery in Stratford, Ontario.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Singing Cowboy Swapped Stage For FW Law Office; Kathi Miller; January 15, 1974; Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Fort Worth, TX
  • Station Notes; October 24, 1936; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Happy Hank; October 29, 1938; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Primary Room News; October 10, 1939; The Humboldt Independent; Humboldt, IA
  • Rural School News; November 23, 1939; Moravia Union; Moravia, Iowa
  • 237 Applicants Pass State Bar Examination; December 18, 1960; Lansing State Journal; Lansing, MI
  • Scrambles On For Two Congressional Seats; Hub M. George; August 4, 1956; Detroit Free Press; Detroit, MI
  • Mrs. Oral Williams of Sports News; October 6, 1970; Detroit Free Press; Detroit, MI
  • Marcus D. Williams Found Dead In Office; June 19, 1974; Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Fort Worth, TX

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Brunswick
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  240 A Sioux Indians
  240 B Willie The Weeper
  244 A The Cowboy's Dream
  244 B When The Work's All Done This Fall
  269 A Jesse James
  269 B Little Joe The Wrangler
  274 A William And Mary
  274 B Bad Companions
  304 A Sam Bass
  304 B Utah Carroll
  377 A The Cowboy's Last Wish
  377 B Sing Poor Devil Sing
  430 A Crepe On The Cabin Door
  430 B Cowboy Jack
  497 A Dying Ranger
  497 B Night Herding Song
  544 A Cole Younger
  544 B Curley Joe
  564 A The Boys In Blue
  564 B Little Old Sod Shanty
 
Decca
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  5010 A Judge Roy Bean
  5010 B Twenty One Years
  5011 A Willie The Weeper
  5011 B Sioux Indians
  5012 A Old Montana
  5012 B When Work's All Done This Fall
  5106 A Old Chisholm Trail
  5106 B Give My Love To Nell
  5196 A When They Change My Name To A Number
  5196 B I'm Waiting For Ships That Never Come In
  5216 A Melancholy Baby
  5216 B My Blue Heaven
  5327 A Letter Edged In Black
  5327 B William And Mary


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