Too Darn Hot
Coming from a musical family (his father’s Fuller Concert Company toured the middle of the country from Mexico to Canada), his musical career began as a youngster when he played the harp on the “Goat Gland” Doctor Brinkley’s radio shows. He then begin to travel with his father’s musical troupe at age 8.
Accepted as a student at KU at only 15, he studied opera and other classical forms of music. He went on to have his own monthly radio program on KFKU and was featured in many fine arts musical productions such as Emperor Jones. He was the first black man to sing with the KU Symphony.
He received a fellowship to Juilliard School of Music in 1946 and performed on Broadway in plays such as Finian’s Rainbow and Kiss Me Kate (featuring his signature song Too Darn Hot.) He was also a popular musical theatre coach to the stars of Broadway.
Always reaching for new challenges, he produced a show for New York’s WPIX radio entitled Van the Genie; the first show in the nation with a black man starring opposite a white woman. After appearing on many radio shows in the 1940s, he became the first African-American to host a national television show. The 15-minute show aired on NBC in 1947.
Fuller died on January 8, 2011 in New York City.