America's Favorite Ter. That was what they called James Melton from the 1920s through the 1950s. He was perhaps the first multi-media performer-in a career that spanned concerts, recordings, movies, the Metropolitan Opera, radio and television. His fame as a singer was equaled by his rewn as an antique car collector. In this hobby he was a pioneer in recognizing these vehicles t only as an important part of America's history, but as works of art. His career and his hobby reflected the two great techlogies that knit the country together in the first half of the 20th century-radio and the automobile. The James Melton story is the story of an era: from the Roaring Twenties, through the Great Depression, World War II, and post-war prosperity. It is a story filled with interesting characters-his friends and colleagues. He toured the Southwest with Will Rogers to raise money for dustbowl denizens in 1931; he collaborated with George Gershwin in 1934 on a concert tour of 28 cities in 29 days; while in Hollywood making movies for Warner Bros. he visited San Simeon as the guest of William Randolph Hearst; he helped to raise millions at War Bond rallies with performers like Milton Berle and Irving Berlin; he began his TV career after talking Henry Ford II into a Ford Motor Company-sponsored variety show. He created his own lucky breaks through a combination of hard work, talent and charm. All the while he was collecting antique cars, displaying his collection in two museums and participating in car activities. Even fifty years after his death, the provenance of having been in the Melton collection provides added value to those cars. James Melton's life and career are emblematic of America in the first half of the 20th century-a country possessed by a can do attitude-a country that could win two world wars and pull itself out of the Great Depression. The James Melton story also a rags-to-riches-to-rags story of a talented, confident young man who raised himself from obscure beginnings in a tiny Florida town to the height of fame on stage, screen and airwaves-but who could t live without the adulation of an adoring public, and who had thing to fall back on as he aged and musical tastes changed. The author chose to do a biographical memoir because it allowed her to tell the story from her point of view-anecdotally. It includes her personal exploration of the motivations that shaped her father's life, and her discovery of the resulting pressures that brought him down.
Margo Melton Nutt is the only child of Marjorie and James Melton. She lives in Vermont. This is her first book.