History of Cedric
"Everybody Called Him Cedric"
Presentation to the Annandale History Club
ANNANDALE HISTORY CLUB 1995
Cedric Adams, Everybody Called Him Cedric
Speaker, Ken Rudolph
Ken based his presentation on the 1971 book, Everybody Called Him Cedric by Benedict Hardman. Ken worked at the Covered Wagon in Minneapolis where he met several celebrities including Cedric Adams. Everyone of a certain age knows who Cedric Adams was. He was probably the most well-known and popular personality ever in Minnesota. He reached the pinnacle of popularity in the early 1950s. There is a picture of Cedric Adams in the WCCO building where he worked from 1931 to 1961. He was a newscaster on WCCO Radio and also wrote a daily column for the Minneapolis Star entitled Cedric Adams In this Corner.
Cedric Adams was born May 27, 1902, in Adrian, Minnesota, a small town in the southwest corner of Minnesota. He lived there a few years before moving to an even smaller town, Magnolia (population 261). His father died and he moved to Minneapolis in 1914 with his mother. Cedric Adams attended the University of Minnesota from 1921 to 1930, yet fell short of graduation by three English credits. Cedric was a speech major with an English minor at the U. He wrote a column for the Minnesota Daily. Other college activities included master of ceremonies, cheerleader, Chi Delta Xi fraternity (later called Chi Phi), dance band leader, University Masquers, and practical joker. He said that three spectacular things happened November 15, 1924, when he was at the U: The dedication of the U of M Memorial Stadium; the football team stopping University of Illinois Red Grange, winning 20-7; a horse galloping on the field at half-time with Cedric Adams as the rear half in the horse costume.
During college, Cedric Adams played drums in a campus band he called the Cedric Adams Famous Yellow Jackets Dance Band. He also worked for Northrup King as a traveling salesman selling seeds for several summers. The highlight of 1930 was meeting Bernice Niecy Linont of Virginia, Minnesota. In 1931 they eloped to Sisseton, South Dakota, and later had a formal ceremony in Virginia. Cedric and Niecy were parents of three sons, David, Cedric, Jr. (Ric), and Stephen.
Cedric Adams had a knack for making people feel he was interested in them, and this helped him in his newspaper and broadcast career. He had the loyalty of people for his noontime and 10 p.m. news broadcast. Pilots said they could always tell when Cedrics program was over, because so many lights turned off. Cedric Adams got to know Arthur Godfrey well. He had a five minute spot on Arthur Godfreys show where Ramona Gerhart played music and Cedric said a few words. In the days of early national TV, Cedric traveled to New York City to fill in for Arthur Godfrey on Talent Scouts and other programs. Cedric Adams daily Minneapolis Star newspaper column, In This Corner, was very popular for 31 years. Two of his often-used headings were Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall and Thoughts While Shaving. The last column was published February 19, 1961, the day after Cedric died. Cedric had curiosity, sentimentality, and a long memory. He took little things and made them interesting and humorous.
Radio news copy was written for him, and Cedric never read it until he was on air. He wanted to experience the news along with his audience. If he should mispronounce a word or break up laughing, it just further endeared him to his audience. He had an infectious laugh. Cedric tried TV news on WCCO TV from 1953-1959. He wasnt comfortable doing television and left it voluntarily after six years. Radio worked for Cedric. He could do the broadcasts from his home or cruiser on Lake Minnetonka or the different places he made appearances.
Cedric Adams was an excellent salesman. When he advertised Purity Bread on air, sales increased 145% in the Twin Cities alone. The Svenska Limpe campaign was too successful. Purity couldnt keep up with the orders. When Cedric spoke for TCF Bank, people actually sent him money and wanted him to deposit it. One listener sent him $10,000 to deposit for him. He was a master at connecting with people and sponsors were plentiful.
Forty-nine weeks of the year, Cedric and his crew traveled to different towns to broadcast, sometimes walking out to the applause of hundreds of fans. These were quick jaunts averaging 300 miles apiece made in a 12 to 18 hour span. In 1950 he was emcee at the evening program of the first Cokato Corn Carnival. November 28, 1951, after an appearance in Annandale, Cedric and his team slid off a county road between Annandale and Maple Lake, went down a five-foot ditch and overturned. Several people were injured and Cedric injured both his ankles. His column of December 2, 1951, recounted the accident and paid tribute to not only the members of our traveling troupe, but also to the citizenry of both Annandale and Maple Lake, Minnesota.
On June 8, 1956, Cedric was the guest on Edward R. Morrows Person to Person show. The telecast was from the Adams home in Edina.
Cedric Adams worked very hard and his schedule was an inevitable drain. He faced constant deadlines in both radio and the newspaper. Cedric had a heart attack November 5, 1960. During a visit to Austin, Minnesota, for a restaurant opening, Cedric Adams had a second heart attack and died at age 58 at the hospital in Austin on February 18, 1961. His wife and son, Dave, were with him in Austin. That evening the voice of Roger Kent, WCCO announcer, carried the news: Death came tonight to the man who was probably known and loved by more people in the northwest than any other man. Cedric Adams, who was known by millions of WCCO listeners, passed away in Austin, Minnesota, following a heart attack. Cedric, as he was affectionately known by everyone who heard his broadcasts and read his newspaper column, was fifty-eight years old. (Kents voice broke here.) His death will leave an empty feeling in the hearts of those who worked with him at WCCO during the past thirty years.
Cedric Adams was successful because people felt he was talking to them one-to-one instead of to millions at a time. Cedric wrote the following about his audience and fans: These friends have become one of the rewarding experiences which stem from the way I make a living. Theres an enrichment which becomes deeper with the years in simple things such as Christmas cards or fan mail or small thank you notes from folks Ive never met. Cedric Adams last column appeared in the Star Tribune February 19, 1961, the day after he died.
The following accounts of Cedric Adams 1951 visit to Annandale appeared in The Annandale Advocate.
November 8, 1951 William Daniel, representing Northern States Power Co., and Mr. and Mrs. Bob McKinsey of WCCO radio station, were in Annandale Monday. Their mission was to make arrangements for a Home Town Social featuring five acts of vaudeville and a magic act to be given in the high school auditorium at 8 p.m., November 28. Cedric Adams 10 p.m. news broadcast will be made from the stage. The program is sponsored by Northern States Power Co. and features Cedric Adams.
November 22, 1951 Cedric Adams Here for Program on Wednesday Night, November 28th
Queen of Lakes to be Guest Annandale area residents will give a royal reception Wednesday night to Queen of the Lakes Betty Barnhart, who will appear here with Cedric Adams at the Northern States Power Company Home Town Social in the high school gymnasium. Lovely Queen Betty, who was chosen from among the fairest of Minnesotas young ladies at the 1951 Aquatennial, will model clothes made in Minnesota by members of the Minnesota Apparel Industries. Cedric Adams nighttime news will originate from the show carrying the name of Annandale to the Northwest. Interviews with local residents will be transcribed during the evening for later broadcast over WCCO.
November 29, 1951 Residents Will be Heard Over Radio Annandale will be the village featured on the Northern States Power Co. program, Your Home Town, to be heard over WCCO at 1 p.m., Sunday, December 2. Cedric Adams will interview some of the local residents, including Dr. Ridgway, Mayor Bert Hahn, J. F. Powers, John Kiehn and perhaps others. The interviews were transcribed at the school library Wednesday evening when Adams was in Annandale in connection with the Home Town Social program sponsored by the Northern States Power Company. Two long-distance telephone wires were kept open for the Wednesday evening news broadcast by Adams, when his assistant received the news from 8 until 10 oclock that evening.
December 6, 1951 Annandale Scene of Your Home Town at 1 p.m., Sunday - This was a follow-up of the program given at Annandale Wednesday night. During the Sunday program, Mr. Adams gave a little history of Annandale and community, telling of the modern and up-to-date farm homes, the summer resort section, and the many summer homes nestled along the shores of the lakes in the area. Then he carried on interviews with local people, among whom were: B. F. Hahn, mayor; J. F. Powers, blacksmith; John Kiehn, farmer, and daughter Judy, 4-H Club president; and Dr. A. M. Ridgway. Annandale residents were pleased at hearing the voices of those whom they knew so well and agreed that they sounded very good over the air.
December 6, 1951 Adams Injured on Return to City Cedric Adams and others in the car met with an accident when returning to Minneapolis from Annandale following the Home Town Social put on here Wednesday night, November 28. The accident occurred on the detour about five miles northeast of Annandale near the F. F. Mattson home, where the car skidded into the ditch. Two members of the traveling troupe were hospitalized. They are Diane Frandrup, 12, a yodeler from Cannon Falls, who suffered the loss of two upper front teeth and a cut on her lower lip, and Curtis Balcom, Minneapolis, driver of the car, who suffered face cuts and body bruises. Other members of the Adams staff were bruised and shaken up.
Cedric Adams, who was master of ceremony at the program, also columnist of the Minneapolis Star, suffered ankle sprains and body bruises, no fractures. A curve in the road, which is said to be not well marked, and icy condition were contributing factors in causing the accident.
The car in which other members of the troupe were riding came along behind the Adams car, gave first aid and assisted in getting them to a doctor at Maple Lake. An ambulance from Maple Lake and one from Buffalo took those who needed hospitalization to Minneapolis. Donald Figge, Frank Hahn and James McAlpin came along right after the accident and helped to get Cedric and his passengers out of the car and to a doctor. The wrecked vehicle was brought to the Figge-Nelson Chevrolet garage the same night. The car remained upright; the front end was badly damaged.
Notes by Secretary, Annandale History Club