Stuart Hamblen bigraphy, stories - Radio singer, Christian songwriter, Prohibitionist, presidential nominee

Stuart Hamblen : biography

1908 - 1989

Stuart Hamblen (October 20, 1908–March 8, 1989), born Carl Stuart Hamblen, was one of American radio's first singing cowboys in 1926, and later became a Christian songwriter, temperance supporter and recurring candidate for political office.


Hamblen Presidential campaign button, 1952 Hamblen supported the American temperance movement and ran as the Prohibition Party's candidate for U.S. president in the 1952 presidential election. Hamblen garnered 72,949 recorded popular votes and no electoral votes in an election in which Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President for the first of two terms, defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson.

Previously, Hamblen ran for California's 20th congressional district seat as a Democrat, losing to Carl Hinshaw in the 1938 election cycle. The race was a close one, with Hinshaw at 47 percent and Hamblen with 41 percent of the vote.


Hamblen was born to the family of an itinerant Methodist preacher on 20 October 1908, in Kellyville, Texas, USA. He was married to Suzy Daniels and fathered two children with her. Hamblen's father was Dr. J. H. Hamblen, a minister in the Methodist Church in Texas, who in 1946 founded the Evangelical Methodist Church denomination in Abilene, Texas.

From 1931-52, Hamblen had a series of highly popular radio programs on the West Coast of the United States. He composed music and acted in motion pictures with such other stars as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and John Wayne. He was the first artist signed by the American subsidiary of Decca Records in 1934.Internet Movie Database entry for Stuart Hamblen

Hamblen didn't cope well with the pressures of his high profile career and sought relief in alcohol. Many times, his drinking landed him in jail for public brawling and other destructive behavior. The Texas State Historical Association reports that Hamblen identified himself as the "original juvenile delinquent." Hamblen was hugely popular, and his radio sponsors regularly bailed him out of jail. For a while, he ventured into horse-racing as an owner., Sept. 1, 1952 Inevitably, Hamblen's drinking and gambling problems severely affected his life and career. After years of struggle with alcohol, Hamblen, in 1949, underwent a religious conversion at a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles. He was fired from his radio career after he declined to continue with his radio sponsor's beer commercials. Hamblen subsequently gave up gambling and horse racing, and entered Christian broadcasting with his radio show, The Cowboy Church of the Air, which ran until 1952.Hamblen, J.H.: "A Look Into Life," an Evangelical Methodist Church publication (c. 1970)

During a 1963 crusade in Los Angeles, Graham called Hamblen's conversion "the turning point" in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's ministry, where before Hamblen accepted Christ the crowds were rather small. Graham said Hamblen was the No. 1 radio personality in Los Angeles, which drew in crowds. That evening, also Graham's first coast-to-coast television broadcast, Hamblen shared about his faith and sang/spoke his signature hymn "It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)". Graham attributed Hamblen's hunting skills as instrumental in capturing a wild panther in the Los Angeles area prior to the crusade.Personal recording, Billy Graham Crusade, Los Angeles: 1963 (exact date unknown)

Hamblen carried a picture of a mountain lion – might have been the wild panther – in his wallet. The cat was in his refrigerator in the garage.

Stuart Hamblen died March 8, 1989, in Santa Monica, California of brain cancer.


Hamblen wrote the popular songs, "This Ole House" (popularized by Rosemary Clooney, among others) and "Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In)" (not to be confused with the song from the Broadway musical Hair). Other songs include "Hell Train", "It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)" (not the contemporary Christian song of a similar name in the 1980s) and "Blood on Your Hands". Some of his post-conversion songs depict a rather wrathful version of the Gospel, sung with such good-natured high spirits that they have an ironic appeal to the non-religious.

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