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Kay Kyser Inducted Into the Chapel Hill Hall of Fame

by Charly Mann

It is impossible to find a single adjective to describe the extraordinary contribution Kay Kyser bestowed on Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina, and the state of North Carolina. He was an exceptional human being who excelled as an entertainer and a humanitarian. He was one of the biggest stars of all time, yet walked away from fame and fortune at his peak in 1951 to live in a dilapidated house in Chapel Hill. The rest of his life he dedicated to making the town and the world a better place. Among his work was the establishment of two of Chapel Hill's most important institutions, UNC Memorial Hospital and UNC Public Television.


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Barbara B. Elliott      3:59 PM Sun 1/16/2011

I always thought Kay Kyser inherited the house from his Uncle Edward Vernon Howell ( Dean of Pharmacy of UNC and for whom Howell Hall was named (EVH died in 1931). Did Hooper owen the house before Howell?

Steven Beasley      11:08 AM Wed 11/24/2010

Nice job, Charly. Your readers might want to know the FIRST published full length biography on Kyser, titled, 'Kay Kyser-the Ol' Professor of Swing! America's Forgotten Superstar' is now available at our kaykyserbook.com site. Steven Beasley (author)

Rusty Scott      4:34 PM Mon 11/8/2010

Over the years I have heard a lot about James Taylor and his connection to Chapel Hill during his childhood, but it seems clear that Kyser was a bigger star than Taylor and contributed much more to the town. Thanks for the great piece.

Don Davis      2:18 PM Thu 11/4/2010

Where is the Chapel Hill Hall of Fame located, and will there be an induction ceremony for Kay Kyser I can attend?

Michael Waters      8:50 AM Wed 11/3/2010

Thank you so much for the wonderful biography on Kay Kyser. I live in Saskatchewan and fell in love with his music about fifteen years ago. If I come to Chapel Hill is there a museum or some other exhibit I could visit that honors him?

Beth Daniels      10:16 PM Tue 11/2/2010

What an amazing man! I've lived in Chapel Hill since 1979 and was really not aware of Kyser until your piece. I think the Varsity should celebrate his induction into the Chapel Hill Hall of Fame by showing all of his movies.

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Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.



What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

-- Charles Kuralt



Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".



Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies


We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.





There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.



The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.





The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.





William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.



The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.



Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.



Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.



The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.



Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.



Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.



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