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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Smithville in Monroe County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Rod Brasfield

 
 
Rod Brasfield Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 24, 2021
1. Rod Brasfield Marker
Inscription.  Born in Smithville, Rod Brasfield was the Grand Ole Opry's top male comedian from 1947-1958, a beloved sad sack foil for Red Foley and Hank Williams and a comic sparring partner for Minnie Pearl and June Carter. He played dramatic and comic roles in traveling tent shows before his Opry fame, and appeared as Andy Griffith’s sidekick in the Hollywood drama "A Face in the Crowd." Brasfield was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame posthumously, in 1987.

Rod Brasfield Rodney Leon Brasfield was born in Smithfield on August 22, 1910, into a theatrical family. His older brother, Lawrence, known professionally as “Boob,” worked as a comedian on the Chautauqua circuit and with touring companies of Broadway shows when Rod was just a toddler. When Rod was sixteen, he joined Boob and sister-in-law Neva in the touring Bisbee’s Dramatic Shows tent rep company, first as an errand boy, then as a dramatic actor and straight man for his brother. After a decade of apprenticeship, Brasfield was featured in the “Bisbee’s Comedians” wing of the company in his own right. After pausing for a year in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he returned

Rod Brasfield Marker (reverse) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 24, 2021
2. Rod Brasfield Marker (reverse)
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to Bisbee's, where Grand Ole Opry emcee George C. Hay saw him in 1941, and invited him to join the venerable broadcast.

On the air and in its traveling tent shows, Brasfield quickly became the Opry’s ultimate “hapless rube” figure, with his funny hat, baggy pants, and popular monologues about goings on in an imaginary town (that borrowed the name of the real Hohenwald, Tennessee), presenting himself as “The Hohenwald Flash.” Inevitably, he was paired with the Opry’s established star comedienne, Minnie Pearl, and the two of them, neither playing the straight role for the other but convulsing audiences together with what they called their “double” comedy routines, shared top Opry billing for the rest of his career. They were among the Opry stars chosen to tour U.S. military bases in England and Germany in 1949.

Brasfield’s on-air exchanges with such musical Opry stars as Red Foley, June Carter, and Hank Williams, Sr., (who nicknamed his son Hank, Jr., “Bocephus” after Brasfield’s ventriloquist’s dummy) became Opry mainstays. The routines with Foley were highlighted on the national NBC radio portion of the Opry broadcasts. It was natural that Al Gannaway, who produced the TV “Country Show” on Opry stars, would feature Brasfield prominently. In 1957 he was cast in a serious role as a sidekick to an ambitious country politician, played by Andy Griffith, in Elia Kazan’s

Closeup of photos on rear of marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 24, 2021
3. Closeup of photos on rear of marker.
A Face in the Crowd. A heart condition exacerbated by a problem with alcohol caused Brasfield’s sudden death on September 12, 1958, at age forty-eight; he was buried here in Smithville.

Rod Brasfield was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1987. A replica of his Hall plaque was presented to the people of Smithville and placed in the town hall.
 
Erected 2012 by the Mississippi Country Music Trail. (Marker Number 19.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Country Music Trail 🎶 series list. A significant historical date for this entry is August 22, 1910.
 
Location. 34° 3.83′ N, 88° 23.783′ W. Marker is in Smithville, Mississippi, in Monroe County. Marker can be reached from Jefferson Street when traveling south. Located in Rod Brasfield Park. Access can be made at the end of Jefferson Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Smithville MS 38870, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Town of Smithville (approx. 0.4 miles away); Gaines Trace (approx. 0.6 miles away); Chickasaw Cession (approx. 6.9 miles away); Amory, Mississippi: Blues from a Railroad Town (approx. 7½ miles away); Amory's Tribute to the Heroes of 1861—1865

View from marker towards stage in Rod Brasfield Park. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 24, 2021
4. View from marker towards stage in Rod Brasfield Park.
(approx. 7.6 miles away); Gilmore Sanitarium (approx. 7.7 miles away); Becker Post Office (approx. 7.7 miles away); Mound Cemetery (approx. 9.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Smithville.
 
Also see . . .  Photo and bio by the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Submitted on May 25, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Nearby memorial to Rod Brasfield. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 24, 2021
5. Nearby memorial to Rod Brasfield.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 25, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 51 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 25, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Jun. 19, 2021