Great-grandma Ida with two legends of the radio era, Atwater Kent and Kay Kyser, and hosted by Mary Pickford

Ida + Atwater Kent + Kay Kyser 1948 watermark
My great-grandmother Ida Mayer Cummings with inventor and philanthropist Atwater Kent and bandleader Kay Kyser, 1948. Possibly at Mary Pickford’s home, Pickfair.

I love this photo of great-grandma Ida Mayer Cummings with Atwater Kent and Kay Kyser from 1948. What a smile, and a terrific look down the barrel of the camera, and how about that hat!

The pic’s label mentions ‘ground breaking ceremonies’ so I think this was taken at Mary Pickford’s fabled home, Pickfair. She hosted a number of the activities surrounding the building of a new wing for the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aged (JHA) and I have many photos relating to this event.

Buddy Rogers and Mary Pickford breaking ground at JHA bld site watermark
Mary Pickford with a shovel and her husband Buddy Rogers with a pick axe actually breaking ground at the new JHA building site, 1948.

Mary Pickford and Louis B. Mayer, Ida’s younger brother, worked together behind the scenes to fund the ambitious project, as well as others over the years. During my visit in early August to the JHA in Reseda, California I was able to see letters back and forth about this in their archive.

What I find so interesting about this particular photo of Ida with Kent and Kyser is that it captures two obviously non-Jewish men of note supporting the Home – and that was Ida’s magic: she contacted EVERYONE and so many heeded the call and gave generously of their time and money.

In case you don’t recognize either name, Atwater Kent was an inventor and manufacturer of radios, who became a philanthropist, and Kay Kyser was a bandleader and radio personality. So on either side of Ida you have a man who made music and another who produced the means to hear it!

atwater kent radio adThe Atwater Kent Manufacturing Company became the largest maker of radios in the US – at its peak in 1929, the company employed over 12,000 workers manufacturing nearly one million radio sets. The company also sponsored the popular Atwater Kent Hour, a top-rated radio concert music program heard on NBC and CBS from the mid 1920s to the mid-1930s.

Kay Kyser had a long recording career, and famously led the crazily named ‘Kollege of Musical Knowledge’ band, which also appeared in films, such as That’s Right – You’re Wrong (1939), You’ll Find Out (1940), Playmates (1941) and My Favorite Spy (1942).

kay-kyser ad

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