Carl Stuart Hamblen

Carl Stuart Hamblen

Carl Stuart Hamblen (October 20, 1908 - March 8, 1989), often called Stuart Hamblen, became one of radio's first singing cowboys in 1926, and was a recurring candidate for political office.


Stuart Hamblen was born to the family of an itinerant Methodist preacher on 20 October 1908, in Kelleyville, Texas, USA. He was married to Suzy Daniels and fathered two children with her.Hamblen's father was Dr. J. H. Hamblen, a bishop in the Methodist Church in Texas, who in 1946 founded the Evangelical Methodist Church in Abilene, Texas.

Between 1931 and 1952, Hamblen had a series of highly popular radio programs on the west coast of the United States [ Carl Stuart Hamblen Biography] . He composed music and acted in motion pictures with such other stars as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and John Wayne. He was the first artist signed by MCA Records in 1934. [Internet Movie Database entry for Stuart Hamblen]

He was also a racehorse owner for a portion of his career. [TIME magazine, Sept. 1, 1952,8816,816859,00.html]

In 1949, he underwent a religious conversion at a Billy Graham revival in Los Angeles. He soon gave up his secular radio and film career to enter Christian broadcasting with his radio show, "The Cowboy church of the Air," which ran from 1938-52. [Hamblen, J.H.: "A Look Into Life," an Evangelical Methodist Church publication (c. 1970)]

Stuart Hamblen died 8 March, 1989, in Santa Monica, California, USA, of brain cancer [Internet Movie Database entry for Stuart Hamblen] .


Hamblen wrote the popular songs, "This Ole House" and "Open up Your Heart (and Let the Sunshine in)" (not to be confused with the 1969 hit song by The Fifth Dimension, or the song from the Broadway musical "Hair"). Other songs include "Hell Train", "It is No Secret (What God Can Do)" (not the contemporary Christian song of the same name in the 1980s) and "Blood on Your Hands". Some of his post-conversion songs depict a rather wrathful version of the gospel, sung with such good-natured high spirits that they have an ironic appeal to religious scoffers.

"It Is No Secret" was likely to have been inspired by a Billy Graham prayer meeting, in which Hamblen became a born-again Christian, and a conversation with John Wayne. The song would go on to be sung by popular singers Eddy Arnold, Pat Boone, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb. [ [ Creating a gospel classic, Songwriter Stuart Hamblem ] ]

"This Ole House" was reportedly inspired while on a hunting trip with a friend. The two men came upon what looked like an abandoned shack, wherein was the body of an elderly man, apparently dead of natural causes. Hamblen wrote the lyrics to the song on the spot, on the back of his lunch bag, and composed the melody within a week. [Internet Movie Database entry for Stuart Hamblen]

In 1955, Hamblen had a hit single along with his family under the name "Cowboy Church Sunday School." With wife Suzy, daughters Veeva Suzanne and Obee Jane (Lisa), and two of the girls' friends, they recorded the song "Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In)", and released it as a single. The song was recorded at the 33rpm speed so that it sounds like children singing at the normal 7" single phonograph speed of 45rpm. The tune hit #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop charts in 1955. [Joel Whitburn, "The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits". 7th edn, 2000] "Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine in" was performed on an episode of the television cartoon series The Flintstones and sung by characters Pebbles and Bamm Bamm in the mid-1960s.


Hamblen was inducted into the Country/Western Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, was presented the ACM Pioneer Award 1972, received the Gene Autry Golden Boot Award 1988, and was inducted into Texas Country Music Hall of Fame 2001 [Internet Movie Database entry for Stuart Hamblen] . He later received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Jefferson, Texas (near Hamblen's birth home of Kelleyville, Texas) celebrates "Stuart Hamblen Days" each year, with a bronze plaque dedication taking place in the city park in 1998, sponsored by a local opera house. [Internet Movie Database entry for Stuart Hamblen]


Hamblen supported the U.S. Temperance Movement and ran as the Prohibition Party's candidate for president in the 1952 U.S. presidential election. Hamblen garnered 72,949 recorded popular votes and no electoral votes in an election in which Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President for the first of two terms, defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson. [ Prohibitionist Party biography of Stuart Hamblen] [ Prohibitionist Party biography of Stuart Hamblen]

Previously, in 1933, Hamblen ran for California's 20th Congressional District seat as a Democrat, losing to Carl Hinshaw.

See also

*Temperance Movement
*Prohibition Party presidential election results
*Singing cowboys
*Billy Graham


External links

* cite news
title = It's a Free Country
pages =
publisher = Time Magazine
date = 1952-09-01
url =,8816,816859,00.html
accessdate = 2006-10-03

* [ article clarifying urban legend about Hamblen's conversion.]
* [ Prohibitionist Party history, mentioning Hamblen's candidacy]
* [ Carl Stuart Hamblen Biography Web page]

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