By Wyatt Earp | June 17, 2009
Every Philadelphia Flyers fan will remember this name.
June 17, 1986 – Kate Smith Passes Away
On this day in 1986, singer Kate Smith dies at age 79. Smith, one of the most successful American singers of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, had been battling diabetes during her later years.
Born in Alabama, Smith studied to become a nurse but decided to pursue a musical career instead. She toured the vaudeville circuit and made her Broadway debut in 1926, at age 19, in Honeymoon Lane. The following year, she recorded her first hit song, “One Sweet Letter from You,” and by 1931 she had launched her first radio show, a 15-minute segment that ran several times a week. Smith’s program ran for more than two decades and launched the career of numerous performers, most notably Abbott and Costello, who spent two years as regulars on her show in the late 1930s.
Smith scored dozens of hits over the years. Her theme song, “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain,” sold 19 million copies. In 1938, she introduced Irving Berlin’s song “God Bless America,” which became a top seller before and during World War II. She donated all proceeds from the song to the Boy Scouts of America. She was also an active fund-raiser for G.I.’s in World War II, helping to raise some $600 million. (H/T – History.com)
Late in her career, she would occasionally sing “God Bless America” at Flyers home games. The Flyers’ record when Smith’s version of “God Bless America” is played or sung in person is an amazing 77 wins, 21 losses, and 4 ties.
The team erected a statue of her in 1987 (above), which stands outside the their stadium in South Philadelphia.