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Mismatched WomenThe Siren's Song Through the Machine$
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Jennifer Fleeger

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199936892

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199936892.001.0001

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Kate Smith

Kate Smith

The Variety “Femcee” on Radio and Television

(p.137) Chapter 5 Kate Smith
Mismatched Women

Jennifer Fleeger

Oxford University Press

Kate Smith is best known today for popularizing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”. However, her ability to sell Berlin’s song rested in her radio fame: she hosted her own weekly evening program and daily commentary show for decades. In 1950 her television program paved the way for the variety show to be a staple of the medium because it accommodated the viewing habits of the housewife and played on the desires of the amateur in the audience while teaching viewers to appreciate professional entertainment. Moreover, as a mismatched woman, Smith posed no threat to the invasion of the home that could have been associated with television; she was neither mother nor temptress. Smith relied on her professionalism, patriotism, and mismatch to make a tacit argument that television was an ideal medium for representing American talent.

Keywords:   Kate Smith, variety show, femcee, God Bless America, patriotism

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