Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pat Kennedy -- He Wasn't Clowning

Pat Kennedy, featured vocalist
The Irish tenor got his first big break in the "Roaring Twenties" as a singer with Ben Bernie's band.  During that period, the Pittsburgh orphan credited in press notices as being the person "who lifted Ben Bernie to fame" worked with celebrities like Al Jolson, Will Rogers, and Eddie Cantor.  Kennedy stayed with the band until striking off on his own in the mid-thirties for a radio career in Chicago.  Listeners, however, tired of the tenor's style and by 1939, following an unsuccessful turn with a band in Minneapolis, he was back in Pittsburgh driving a truck for his father-in-law's business, and singing, and playing records in a bar in Crafton.  After years of trying to make a comeback, the 50-year-old singer had had enough.  On September 3, 1952, Kennedy took an overdose of sleeping pills in his room at the Fort Pitt Hotel.  He died shortly afterward in Allegheny General Hospital.

In a note found to his estranged wife found at the scene, Kennedy wrote:  "I am tired of living in a two-by-four room, so maybe you will understand.  You have been a wonderful mother and God bless you but I just couldn't take it any longer.  To all my would-be friends, always try to be at least on the level.  When you are lonely and there is no one to talk to, remember that a friend in need is a friend indeed.  Goodbye and God bless you all, Pat.  P.S.  You all thought I was clowning.  So now you can talk about me seriously."

1 comment:

  1. Kennedy was a New York City "half orphan," a kid put in an institution by a single parent who couldn't care for him.