Born on November 20, 1913, in Starke, Florida, actress and singer Judy Canova began her career as a child in her family's vaudeville act, which moved to radio in the 1930s with the help of Rudy Vallee. She became a popular radio personality and made a few films in the mid to late 1930s, but her film career didn't take off until she signed with Republic in 1940. The studio put her in a string of popular low-budget films including Scatterbrain (1940; with Alan Mowbray) and Joan of Ozark (1943; with Joe E. Brown). In combination with her long-running CBS and later NBC radio show (1943-1955), Canova had a recording contract with RCA as a singer and was dubbed the "Queen of Corn" due to her hillbilly brand of humor. Although her films were very popular with audiences (if panned by many critics), Canova let her film career slide in the late 1940s to concentrate on her popular radio show and her growing family.

Judy Canova and James RipleyJudy CanovaDinah Manoff, Lee Grant, Francesca Hilton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Diana Canova, Judy Canova, and Dinah Shore

LEFT: In June 1941, Canova married James Ripley in Hawaii, but the union was annulled a few months later. This was the second of Canova's four marriages. CENTER: Glamorous photo of Judy Canova from the late 1940s. A handsome woman away from the camera, Canova typically downplayed her looks for film roles. RIGHT: From a 1977 episode of Dinah!; pictured are Dinah Manoff, Lee Grant, Francesca Hilton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Diana Canova, Judy Canova, and Dinah Shore

Unhappy with the low budgets on her Republic films, she went on loan-out to Columbia, but Canova found that Columbia, much like Republic, devoted too little money in producing her films. Between 1946 and 1951, she made no movies, focusing instead on her popular radio show. She returned to Republic in 1951 for the film Honeychile.

the films of judy canova

In Caliente (1935)

The Canova Family

Canova with siblings Anne, Zeke, and Pete in In Caliente, Judy Canova's first appearance in a full-length feature film

Going Highbrow (1937)

Judy Canova and Gordon Westcott

From Going Highbrow with Gordon Westcott

Thrill of a Lifetime (1937)

Johnny Downs, Eleanore Whitney, and Judy Canova

From Canova's first starring vehicle, Thrill of a Lifetime with Johnny Downs and Eleanore Whitney

Scatterbrain (1940)

Judy Canova in ScatterbrainJudy Canova

LEFT: From Canova's first film at Republic, Scatterbrain. RIGHT: Republic promotional photo

Puddin' Head (1941)

Judy Canova

Canova falls prey to a prank in Puddin' Head

Sis Hopkins (1941)

Charles Butterworth, Judy Canova, and Charles Coleman

From Sis Hopkins with Charles Butterworth and Charles Coleman

Joan of Ozark (1942)

Judy Canova and Don Curtis

With Don Curtis in Joan of Ozark

Sleepytime Gal (1942)

Billy Gilbert, Judy Canova, Thurston Hall, and Fritz FieldJudy Canova and Jerry Lester

LEFT: With Billy Gilbert, Thurston Hall, and Fritz Field in Sleepytime Gal. RIGHT: With Jerry Lester

True to the Army (1942)

Judy Canova, Mary Treen, Gordon Jones, and Charlotte Sullivan

From True to the Army with Mary Treen, Gordon Jones, and Charlotte Sullivan

Louisiana Hayride (1944)

Jessie Arnold, Judy Canova, and Walter Baldwin

From Canova's first film at Columbia, Louisiana Hayride, with Jessie Arnold and Walter Baldwin

Oklahoma Annie (1952)

John Russell, Si Jenkins, Judy Canova, and Frank Ferguson

With John Russell, Si Jenkins, and Frank Ferguson in Oklahoma Annie

The WAC From Walla Walla (1952)

Judy CanovaJudy Canova

From the Republic comedy The WAC From Walla Walla

Untamed Heiress (1954)

Don 'Red' Barry, Judy Canova, and Ellen Corby

With Don 'Red' Barry and Ellen Corby in Republic's comedy-musical Untamed Heiress

Television Guest Appearances

Judy Canova and Chick ChandlerJudy Canova

LEFT: With frequent co-star Chick Chandler in a 1958 episode of Make Room For Daddy. RIGHT: Canova had an uncharacteristic dramatic role in this 1960 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents

later years

When Judy Canova's contract with Republic lapsed in 1955, she put her career on the back burner and went into semi-retirement. Her her radio show ended roughly at the same time, and she spent time raising her daughters. Canova worked on occasion on Broadway and in nightclubs and television from the late 1950s through the 1970s. After making a cameo appearance in Disney's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960; with Tony Randall), she made just one other theatrically released film, Paul Bartel's Cannonball (1976; with David Carradine and Mary Woronov). Sadly, Judy Canova passed away in Hollywood on August 5, 1983, of cancer at the age of 69. Canova's younger daughter, Diana Canova, is also an actress who is best known for her role on the ABC-TV sitcom Soap.

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Cannonball (1976) with Mary Woronov, David Carradine, Robert Carradine, and Aron Kincaid; directed by Paul Bartel
The Murdocks and the McClays (1970) with Dub Taylor and Noah Beery Jr.
Li'l Abner (1967) with Sammy Jackson, Robert Reed, Jerry Lester, and Jeannine Riley
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960) with Tony Randall, Eddie Hodges, Patty McCormack, Neville Brand, Mickey Shaughnessy, Andy Devine, Buster Keaton, Parley Baer, John Carradine, and Royal Dano
Lay That Rifle Down (1955) with Robert Lowery and Richard Deacon
Carolina Cannonball (1955) with Andy Clyde
Untamed Heiress (1954) with Don 'Red' Barry
The WAC From Walla Walla (1952) with Irene Ryan and Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer
Oklahoma Annie (1952) with John Russell
Honeychile (1951) with Eddie Foy Jr. and Alan Hale
Hit the Hay (1946) with Ross Hunter and Gloria Holden
Singin' in the Corn (1946) with Allen Jenkins
Louisiana Hayride (1944) with Ross Hunter and Lloyd Bridges
Sleepy Lagoon (1943) with Dennis Day
Chatterbox (1943) with Joe E. Brown and Anne Jeffreys
Joan of Ozark (1942) with Joe E. Brown, Anne Jeffreys, and Eddie Foy, Jr.
True to the Army (1942) with Allan Jones, Ann Miller, and Jerry Colonna
Sleepytime Gal (1942) with Ruth Terry, Hillary Brooke, and Billy Gilbert
Puddin' Head (1941) with Chick Chandler and Eddie Foy, Jr.
Sis Hopkins (1941) with Bob Crosby, Jerry Colonna, and Susan Hayward
Scatterbrain (1940) with Alan Mowbray and Eddie Foy, Jr.
Thrill of a Lifetime (1937) with Ben Blue, Buster Crabbe, Betty Grable, and Leif Erickson
Artists & Models (1937) with Jack Benny, Richard Arlen, and Ida Lupino
Going Highbrow (1935) with Zasu Pitts
Broadway Gondolier (1935) with Dick Powell and Joan Blondell
In Caliente (1935) with Dolores del Rio
The Song of Fame (1934) a short featuring the Canova family

The Love Boat, episode Captain's Captain, originally aired November 26, 1977
Police Woman, episode The Beautiful Die Young, originally aired September 20, 1974
Love, American Style, episode Love and the Clinical Problem/Love and the Eat's Cafe/Love and the Last Joke/Love and the Persistent Assistant/Love and the Unsteady Steady, originally aired November 9, 1973
Pistols 'n' Petticoats, episode The Golden Fleece, originally aired February 11, 1967
Pistols 'n' Petticoats, episode Daisy and the Gambler, originally aired January 7, 1967
Vacation Playhouse, episode Cap'n Ahab, originally aired September 3, 1965
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode Party Line, originally aired November 29, 1960
The Danny Thomas Show, episode The Country Girl, originally aired March 17, 1958
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