Carolina Cotton & Bob Nolan's Last Tour
(Helen Hagstrom 1925 - 1997) by Sharon Marie, her daughter
My mother was Carolina Cotton. She did a tour with Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers which ran from the end of February to the beginning of April, 1949, and I have some related material to share with you.
For the full story, visit the official Carolina Cotton site. It includes the latest album of her music and information on just about everything related to her. A most enjoyable site about an astonishing woman. Listen to radio interviews and programs featuring Carolina. The site gives a closer look at the Hollywood of the B-Western and the singing cowboys of the day.
The song she is singing on this page is "Song of the Trail" by Fleming Allan.
The photo was taken in Sweetwater, Texas, at radio station KXOX.
Back: Karl Farr, Ken Curtis, Hugh Farr, Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer, Lloyd Perryman and Shug Fisher
Front: Carolina Cotton between the Oklahoma Sweethearts
All of these clippings and
photos are part of my mother's memorabilia. She was a pack-rat of sorts when it
came to saving her Show Biz stuff (Yay Mom!). It's too bad she lost so much
stuff in that storeroom flood down in Panama in 1970. But I'm thankful for what
was spared. . Some folks seemed to figure "that was then, this is now", and they
didn't save anything. Didn't think people nowadays would care about that
stuff. Ha! If only they knew... Even Carolina had her doubts, but after going
to some of those Western Film Festivals, she realized people DO care! She tried
to convince Ken Curtis to go, but he felt that because he didn't look the same
or sound the same as "back then", no one would care. Too bad he never
attended. I think he would have been met with open arms and plenty of smiling
faces. Bob Nolan would have, too.
[above] article gives a bit more detail about the tour which ran from the end of
February to the beginning of April, 1949. At the time, she was considered a
"Daughter" of the group, at least during the tour. Some of her publicity
labelled her as the "only Daughter". It looks like my Mom wasn't the
only, or first, "Daughter" of the Pioneers. [Ed: The Stafford Sisters and the
Sons of the Pioneers made a pilot of a radio program they called "The Open
Spaces" starring "The Sons and Daughters of the Pioneers".] Is it possible she
was the first to tour with them? I'm curious as to why this was part of the
publicity. Sure wish she was still around to tell us all about the tour. Sadly,
she passed away back in 1997. I don't recall any specific recollections she had
about the tour. I do have several of her early 16" transcription radio shows,
and videos of Western Film Festivals she did in the '80s and '90s.
newspaper assumed my Mom was from "Carolina", when she was
This little clipping out of LA just gives an overview of the tour, but gives insight as to one of the tour's "backers", John Hill, "formerly with the Shuberts". I don't know the scoop on either of them, do you? [Larry Hopper: The Shubert's ran a theatrical booking company and a number of theatres. There is one named for them in New York on Shubert Alley, also named for them.]
Now here's something different: A souvenir napkin, from the Abilene TX show. I've got 2 of them, but the other isn't in as good of shape.
In the bus, headed for Pioneertown. Can you imagine the fun they had? Looked like they were having a good time.
Left to right: Hugh Farr, Ken Curtis, Bob Nolan behind him, Lloyd Perryman, Karl Farr and Shug Fisher.
The Oklahoma Sweethears, Bob Nolan at mike, Hugh Farr behind him, Ken Curtis, Lloyd Perryman, Karl Farr and Shug Fisher.
Carolina Cotton with the Sons of the Pioneers
This photo was taken with a personal camera. Unfortunately, the photo was damaged years ago. We had a flood when living down in Panama (Balboa, Canal Zone) back in 1970 when Mom became a school teacher and was teaching down there. Sadly, some of her memorabilia was lost but luckily some made it through, for better or worse. This one at least shows a clue to what this car looked like.
Same photo as above, cropped and enlarged.
The following photographs were taken by Earl Bryant at the Charlotte, NC, Film Festival in 1986:
Back: Lash LaRue, Pierce Lyden, House Peters Jr, Cal Shrum, John Russell, Pee Wee King and Bob Allen
Front: Evelyn Finley, Carolina Cotton, unknown lady, Mrs. Cal Shrum and Patsy Montana
Carolina Cotton backed by Rusty Cramer, Don White (Tennessee Ramblers) and Cal Shrum
Carolina still knows how to keep a crowd happy.
Anne Jeffreys, Shirley Patterson and Carolina Cotton. By the way, Anne is a well known actress who worked with Mitchum, Randy Scott, and others. Shirley Patterson (also an actress) worked at Columbia Studio. She was leading lady in the 1943 serial; BATMAN. Also with Bill Elliott and Tex Ritter. (EB)
Carolina with Rand Brooks (actor). Tallest guy is Wayde Preston (actor), then Oliver Drake (producer, director, writer, songwriter). Last is Arkansas "Slim" Andrews. Slim was sidekick to Tex Ritter, Don Barry and a good musical entertainer. You probably know Rand Brooks as sidekick to Hoppy. Wayde was star of TV show COLT 45. (EB)
Carolina with photographer, Earl Bryant, 1995, two years before her death.
Carolina with Skip Rose, actor, 1995.