Durward Kirby (1912-2000)
Arsenal Technical High Class of 1930
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Memories of Durward Kirby (1912-2000)
Durward Kirby, one of television's laid-back pioneers, became a household name in the 1950's and 1960's. During his Radio and TV broadcasting heyday in the '50s and '60s, he was the first sidekick for his longtime pal Garry Moore and foil to comedienne Carol Burnett on "The Garry Moore Show". He was later a co-host of "Candid Camera" with the late Alan Funt. Among his many credits, Kirby performed in the very first color television commercial aired on CBS.
Mr. Kirby, who co-hosted "Candid Camera" with Alan Funt for five years, died March 15, 2000 in Fort Myers, Florida of congestive heart failure. He was 88. Kirby also played second banana on and off for years on "The Garry Moore Show." Kirby's association with Moore last for 30 years.
Kirby's life began in Covington, Kentucky, and he was pursuing a degree in aeronautical engineering at Purdue University when fate intervened. He was walking by the campus radio station and was asked to fill in as an announcer. From there, he went on to work at radio stations in Chicago, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. His radio days were interrupted by World War II but afterward, the 6-foot-4 Kirby traveled to New York and began his long television career.
With Moore's early live show, which ran from 1950-1951, Kirby served as an announcer and performer. He also performed on a variety show bearing Moore's name, which was shown on television from 1958-1964 and again from 1966-1967. Alan Funt created "Candid Camera" in 1961, although it had at one time been part of Moore's show, and Kirby co-hosted from the debut until 1966.
He was known in the industry as a versatile performer and funnyman who could sing, dance and easily switch from slapstick comedy to salesman for the sponsor's product. He also was an author, penning "My Life, Those Wonderful Years;" "Bits and Pieces of This and That;" and "Dooley Wilson," a children's tome.
Entertainer Arthur Godfrey once said Kirby was the only person in show business with whom everyone could get along. Kirby's popularity was such that a cartoon show, "Rocky and Bullwinkle" initiated a search for "Kirward Derby," a magic hat that would make its wearer the smartest man in the world. Kirby is survived by sons, Randall of Studio City, California; and Dennis of Ossining, New York; and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Paxton.
He had moved to Sanibel, Fla. from Sherman in 1974 and later moved to Fort Meyers.
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