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Benjamin Ford, Duke of Paducah, is Dead at 85

June 23, 1986|Associated Press

NASHVILLE,Tenn. — The Duke of Paducah, a Grand Old Opry humorist known for his tag line "I'm goin' back to the wagon; these shoes are killin' me," is dead at age 85. The entertainer, whose real name was Benjamin Francis (Whitey) Ford, died at St. Thomas Hospital after being in failing health for several months.

Ford was known for his garish green outfits and his popular tag line that was an old-fashioned complaint from a country boy forced to dress for the city.

Ford, who died Friday, was a short, stocky man who played banjo when he wasn't telling homespun tales in a drawling monotone. He performed as regular cast member of the Grand Old Opry from 1942 to 1958 and twice in recent years was among the finalists fro induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He appeared on the original Gene Autry radio show in stations WLS in Chicago and on the WLS Barn Dance show. He also spent nine years as the star and master of ceremonies on "the Plantation Party," a nationally broadcast music and comedy show on NBC radio.

In his 50-year career, Ford appeared with medicine shows and vaudeville. His outfit included a green hat, a green coat with brass buttons, green pants, a red bow tie and high button shoes.

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