“Zero dacus, mucho cracus hallaballu-za bub That’s the secret password that we use down at the club Zero-dacus, mucho-cracus hallaballu-za fan Means now you are a member of: KING’s TV club with Stan.”
Every baby-boomer who grew up within the broadcast signal of Seattle’s KING-TV knows the song. From 1954 until 1967, it was the theme for “King’s TV Club With Stan Boreson” and later simply “The Stan Boreson Show“. Boreson was only one of many kid-show hosts in the early days of Northwest. television. Others included the Ivar Haglund inspired “Captain Puget” (Don McCune), the railwayman “Brakeman Bill”( Bill McLain), Wunda Wunda-a sort-of Pixie Harlequin played by Ruth Prins and of course the most beloved of all; J.P. Patches played by the incredibly resourceful and hilarious Chris Wedes.
Although all local kids show hosts played a character, and focused on their kiddie audience in 1998 Boreson told April Chandler of the Kitsap Sun;
“We used to joke that the reason we’re not on (television) anymore is we were entertaining the parents instead of the kids,” he said. “I never talked down to the kids; we were just carrying on a normal conversation.”
The statement about the adults is probably true. Even though Boreson ran a cartoon or two during his daily broadcast,the bulk of his unscripted routine was a series of subtle “Scandahoovian” jokes and characters that were sure to go over the heads of most kids-especially the majority of his audience who had no first or second generation familiarity with the Scandinavian experience back home, or in the immigrant community. Not only that, Boreson was the master of cornball parodies of popular songs, sung in an addled English-Scandinavian dialect. The dialect itself was a large part of the joke, and even the parody must have seemed a bit too dense for small children.
This was the early days of television and cheap broadcasts of local artists allowed broadcasters across the country to fill time. In fact, it’s probable that not a single broadcaster across the nation didn’t have a kiddie show to fill in an afternoon time slot, or at least a comedy show that could please both the stay-at-home mom and her rowdy kids just home from school. Unlike most kiddie program hosts who had come from radio as announcers, weatherpeople or disc jockeys, Boreson had a leg up on all of them. He’d started his career as an entertainer and by the time he was hired he’d already performed his corny take on Scandanavian life and his accordian playing in front of thousands upon thousands of audience members. The start of his career goes back to his early days in Everett WA.
Boreson was born into a second generation family. His grandfather-a carpenter- had jumped ship from a Norwegian lumber hauler near Utsalady on Camano Island. After hiding out for several days the angry captian and crew of the gave up looking for him, he made his way out of the forest and eventually filed a land claim on Camano Island. Next he sent word to his wife to join him. By 1925, when Stan was born, his mother and father had settled in Everett WA, where a large Scandanavian population had congregated. It’s unclear if his grandparents remained on Camano Island, although later it would be a welcome destination for Stan and his wife to re-charge their batteries.
Stan grew up around first and second generation Norwegian immigrants who were stuck somewhere between stubbornly holding onto the ways of “the old country” and being bemused and a bit confused by the new American culture they’d found themselves in. In fact Boreson would use a running joke throughout his life that “this is a song my uncle Torvald taught me” before launching into one of his thick-accented parodies. It was both humorous to Scandinavian audience, but it also showed a sign of Stan’s well-meaning, genial attitude toward his audience and their backgrounds. Scandinavians who had immigrated were no less frowned-upon and subject to bias than any other ethnic group that has come to America in large numbers.
In the 2010 documentary “”Off The Air But Still In Our Hearts” Boreson recounted a story that’s become familiar with almost every one of his fans. He remembered that at age 12 his mother had decided it was time for Stan to start music lessons. The instrument originally assigned to him was the guitar. She sent him to a tutor, Mel Odegard who worked out of Buell’s Music on Hewitt Avenue in Everett. Odegard told him Stan “I’ll teach you some chords on the guitar and then you can sing the melody.’ Stan was too shy to sing at the time and objected. ” I was very bashful, so I sez ‘No way am I going to sing.’ So he said: ‘Well, then why don’t you trade-in the guitar on an accordion? — you play the melody on one side and chord on the other. That’s how I became an accordian player” Stan recalls.
He also recalls the accordion being so heavy that he hauled it from home to Beull’s and back in his wagon. Of course Stan often repeated this story and each time he was sure to insert the names and addresses-including his home address in Everett at the time. Even though he repeated the story often each time it sounded like the first time he’d told it. Apparently Stan was fighting his reluctance to sing when a cousin, Myrtle Lee, dared him to take part in a skit at one of Everett High School’s pep rallies. Stan would play accordion and sing the lyrics to the song “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh”, an old, somewhat hackneyed standard written by Abe Olman and Ed Rose in 1917. The idea was for Stan to play and sing the song’s lyrics as written in English and Myrtle would “translate” the lyrics in an over-the-top, Norwegian display of comedic melodrama. The performance was a hit, and Boreson-and presumably his cousin Myrtle-would never be stage-shy again. In fact, Boreson clearly reveled in his ability to perform and entertain audiences. This revelry would continue throughout his entire life.
When US involvement in the Pacific and Europe broke out into war h tried to enlist in the Army but was rejected because of an arm injury that had kept him hospitalized for a year as a child. So having been turned down by the Army he chose to do his service by joining the USO. His USO deployment led him to Italy, where he sang on makeshift stages with musical greats The Andrews Sisters, Arthur Tracy, Allan Jones and more. This experience would lead Boreson to gain even more confidence performing in front of audiences. After the war ended Boreson returned to Everett and enrolled as a student Everett Community College…in those days “community” colleges were known as “junior colleges”, so Stan spent two years at Everett “Junior” College, before transferring to the University of Washington. His studies included accounting and personnel management. But study seemed to come second to his aspirations of becoming a comedian and porodist. It was at the University of Washington that his true ambitions as a performer blossomed. Boreson started out with amateur student comedy troupes, mostly among the University’s student entertainment groups. It was here that he honed his “Scandahoovian” persona.
In 1948 Dorothy Bullit purchased KRSC-TV , which had been the first television station to broadcast in the Northwest. The station was re-branded to KING TV shortly afterward to match the call letters of it’s sister station KING Radio. Bullit who was President of KING at the time hired Lee Schulman-a former NBC program director-to look for talent to fill the airwaves of KING TV. One of the targets of Schulman’s search for talent was the University of Washington. It was there that Schulman first saw Boreson and soon afterward he offered Stan a role co-starring with fellow U of W student Art Barduhn. The show debuted as a 15 minute slot each Thursday called “Campus Capers” Later, when the show found a sponsor-Clipper Oil-and the name of the program was changed to “Clipper Capers”.The show included music, comedy skits and occasional interviews. Still later Boreson and Burduhn were offered a half-hour show called “Two B’s at the Keys” (Boreson and Barduhn being the two “B’s. the keys being Stan’s accordion and Burrdun’s piano.) The show, like the previous “Clipper Capers” included comedy sletches, but Stan went even further into Scandanavian parodies of popular songs. It is on “Two B’s at the Keys” that Boreson debuted what would become one of his most beloved parodies “Valkin’ In My Vinter Undervear” set to the tune “Walking In a Winter Wonderland”. The show was a hit with the audiences as well as the sponsors. Boreson and Barduhn did their television show as well as work as featured and opening acts around the Puget Sound region.
Boreson also had a personal connection to band leader Lawrence Welk, another immigrant who’s accent was shaped by the adults he grew up around. Although Welk was born in Strasburg, North Dakota. His family were of German Catholic descent who’d fled Odessa, a city in what was at the time The Russian Empire. (Odessa is now in Ukraine).. Although they did not share a Scandinavian background it’s clear that Boreson had a special place in his heart for Welk and his orchestra throughout his life. Another tie was that Welk’s family had stubbornly held onto their traditions and accents during Welk’s early life. Welk’s accent became as much a part of his persona as the “Champagne Music” he conducted.
“When my cousin and I ran the 7 Cedars Dance Hall in Mount Vernon, we were able to hire him, his whole 16-piece band, and even the Champagne Lady for $750. And his wife sent us baked cookies. He wasn’t famous then, but I knew of him because he’d made some polka records. Later, when he got famous, he had me on his show (in 1957) in Los Angeles. I could never hire him again, though. His price had gone up to $30,000. Same band!”
During the early 1950’s Stan also became aware of comedian/singer/parodist from Tacoma, Harry Edward Skarbo (aka by his adopted name, Harry Stewart) and his alter-ego Yogi Yorgesson. Boreson had been doing his Scandinavian schtick for years, but Skarbo/Stewart/Yogi was far more successful. Boreson’s musical act emphasized comic Scandinavian dialect parodies. Skarbo/Stewart had created a somewhat dim-witted character (Yogi Yorgesson) portraying a naïve Swedish “Hindu yogi” who handed out absurd advice and divination in a thick Swedish accent. Aside form a successful nightclub act, Skarbo/Stewart (as Yogi Yorgesson) had charmed audiences across the country with his own parodies of the ever-confused Scandanavian immigrant and his somewhat backward ways. His first recording “My Clam Digger Sweetheart”b/w”I Don’t Give a Hoot had proved popular enough to land him a contract with Columbia Records. According to his bio Skarbo/Stewart/Yorgesson’s second recording (the first that debuted on Capitol) “I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas” backed by The Johnny Duffy Trio) was promoted as a special Christmas release. Advance orders came from all around the country, and sales soared.
Capitol realized they had a bona fide hit . The song debuted on the Billboard charts at number 24 on December 10th, 1949 , and by the next week, both “I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas, and it’s B-side “Yingle Bells” were both in the Top Twenty. By Christmas that year both were top ten hits. The song “I Yust Go Nuts” proved it’s legs at Christmas” and even reached number five even after the holiday. The single became one of Capitol’s permanent hits—being reissued virtually every year in one form or another since it’s debut in 1949.. Right after Christmas, “I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas” reached number five, and the single became one of Capitol’s permanent hits—being reissued or covered by other artists since it’s debut. It remains a seasonal hit on the Dr. Dememto show. As the 1950’s continued along Skarbo/Yorgesson continued to perform under his stage name, but largely abandoned his “Hindu mystic” character in favor of his act as a Swedish-American parodist and comedian taking advantage of an exaggerated accent. Sadly Skarbo died in an automobile accident in 1956 near Tonapah NV, on his way from a gig in Ely Nevada to his home in Los Angeles.
Between 1956 and 1979 Stan and his musical collaborator Doug Setterberg would record and release 18 songs that had been written by Skarbo/Stewart. In 1980 Stan recorded another 11 of his songs on the tribute album “Yust ‘Tinkin’ of Yogi” . Before. during and after Stan’s television career Boreson had worked closely with his collaborator Doug Setterberg writing and performing parodies together. They appeared onstage as a duo and recorded albums under the name and “Stan and Doug”, although it’s clear that it was Stan who held the spotlight. In all. Boreson (either as a solo artist or alongside Setterberg) recorded 16 albums during his career. Setterberg also collaborated on Boreson’s television show as characters “Foghorn Peterson”, “Phineus The Frog” and various sketch characters. Aside from Setterberg regulars included the voice of Mike Rhodes as the heard but never seen “Old Timer”, Boreson as “Grandma Torvald (his drag persona) a 1962 World’s Fair visitor from outer space, Space-Nick, played by Jerry Sando. The menagerie of animals (real and imagined) scattered the set that included Victor Rola, Pepita the Flea, Phineas the Frog , and “The Swedish Answerman” but none so predominant as the perpertually inert Basset Hound, No-Mo-shun, often shortened to simply “No-Mo” The name stems from a contest to name the mascot of Boreson’s show. The name is a pun on speed record holder (at the time) of“ Slo-Mo-Shun” a local favorite in hydroplane-mad Seattle. Later No-Mo-Shun would be paired with the equally immovable Basset Hound, Talulah Blankhead. I n 1967 Stan Boreson’s show became victim of changes in children’s afternoon programing and an emphasis of afternoon news, talk shows, syndicated sit-coms and soap operas. In fact Boreson’s show was replaced by the gothic themed “Dark Shadows” Sadly, Stan’s sidekick and collaborator, Doug Setterberg died shortly after the show’s cancellation. Still this didn’t keep Boreson from travelling the country or appearing locally to his fans and admirers who had dubbed him “The King of Scandanavian Humor”. His fame was so widespread among pockets of Scandinavians across the country, in Canada, and in Scandinavia itself that his albums, especially his Christmas albums, are regularly pulled out and listened to at large gatherings of Scandinavian friends and family. As corny as they are, they still bring a laugh, and maybe a cringe at their corniness.
Stan continued to record and tour during the 1960s and 1970s and continued to appear on television in the form of “The Stan Boreson Christmas Reunion” that ran every Christmas from 1991 to 2003. He also continued to work live all over the country as well as in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. In 2006 Rick Anderson of the Seattle Weekly wrote:
“Boreson has been on an accordion world tour since, from the Norsk Hostfest in Minot, N.D., to the Little Norway Festival in Petersburg, Alaska, and every lutefisk fight in between. He appears regularly at local events; he’s also done six gigs on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. Wherever he goes, they ache to hear the Klubhouse theme song, “Zero Dacus” (“mucho cracus, hullaballoozabub “
While Stan kept performing the honors and accolades started to pile up. He was summoned by King Olav V of Norway to perform for him and hundreds of guests. In 2005 Olav V’s successor King Harald V awarded Boreson the St. Olav Medal of Honor, an award Boreson shares with only eight others. The Ballard Chamber of Commerce began giving out annual Stan Boreson Awards to various esteemed members of the community, and in 2007, Boreson was honored with two of the first Distinguished Alumni awards ever offered by Everett Community College. He also was dubbed the “Prime Minister of Sea-Fair” Seattle’s annual festival of concerts, parades and special events culminating in the anuual hydroplane races. The largest honor, of course, is the place in the hearts of his fans. Although his TV shows are long gone he’ll always be remembered for his genial mood and gentle humor. It’s important to remember that Stan spent more than 20 on television (12 of them as the host of “KING’s Klubhouse” and “The Stan Boreson Show) But the bulk of his nearly 70 year career was as a live performer, a recording artist and comic. was as a recording artist and live entertainer. Videos from the early days of television broadcasts video was re-used, so very little footage of the Stan Boreson Show, KING Klubhouse, Campus Capers amd Clipper Capers are left, but most folks outaside the Northwest know Stan through his revcordings and live routines. Consequently, there is a great deal of recorded music available.
In 2007 Boreson and his wife formed “Stan Boreson and Barbara Tours”. They took tourists across the US, Canada and Europe for several years by bus; Barbara was the gracious host and Stan, always with his accordian on hand, worked as the commentor, tour guide, and musical entertainment. Always self-deprecated and kind though extremely funny in his trademarked cornball banter. It was clear Stan had no desire to continue being the cut-up he’d been for decades. Stan and Barbara’s tour business lasted 25 years, and each tour provided an captive (but willing) audience for Stan to charm.
Stan’s final foray into recorded music came in 2007 with a cover of Sheb Wooley’s “I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore” A self-deprecating, corny video of the song is available on you tube.
On January 27th 2017 Stan Boreson suffered a massive stroke in the presence of Barbara, his wife of over six decades. His obituary in the Seattle Times wrapped up his career and status as a Northwest icon. The obituary then goes on to say:
“In true Stan Boreson style, he would have wanted to end with a joke…so here goes”.
Lena calls the newspaper and asked to speak to the obituaries.
“This is the obituaries, what can I do for you?”
“I would like to put an ad in your obituaries.”
“What would you like to say?” ”
I’d like to say, “Ole died.”
“Just two words… “Ole died?”
“Yeah, well he did.”
“We have a special this week…five words for a dollar. For the same amount you can have three more words. Is there anything else you’d like to say?”
“In that case,” Lena said, “I would like to say, “Ole died boat for sale.”
Years ago Barbara Boreson said that she and Stan had made a pact that when one of them died the other would go on with life and promised to remarry. Sadly Barbara Boreson never got the change. She died August 20, 2017 just six days short of her 86th birthday. Although both Stan and Barbara and Doug Setterberg are no longer with us, it’s certain that Stan’s corny “Scandahoovian” comedy will last for generations.
-Dennis R; White. Sources; Peter Blecha “Borsen, Stan (1925-2017)” (HistoryLink.org Essay 8553); Barbara Boreson “Stan Boreson. The King of Scandinavian Humor” (http://www.stanboreson.com/index.htm); By Kaitlin Manry “Stan Boreson Can’t Stop Singing” (Everett Herald, December 23 2007); Rick Anderson “Most Resistant to Makeovers” (Seattle Weekly, October 9, 2006); Roger George “My Memoir of Growing Up in Seattle With Television” (Images of Television, September 3, 2014); “Stan Boreson 1925-2017” (Seattle Times Obituaries, January 27, 2017); “78’s fRom HeLL – – Listening in on Phone Chatter: Janette Davis – Hold The Phone, (and on line two) Stan Boreson & Doug Setterberg – The Telephone” (I’m Learning To Share, May 26, 2007); April Chandler “Stan Boreson: Fans Still Going Nuts Over Funny Norwegian” (The Kitsap Sun, January 7, 1998); Dawn Broughton “Remembering Stan Boreson of KING’s Klubhouse” (King TV, February 1, 2017); “How Was He Different?” Seattle Television History); Sherry Strickling “Yust the two of us: Stan and Barbara Boreson Have Kept Each Other Laughing For Nearly 50 Years” (The Seattle Times, July 15, 2001); Kari Bray “Stan Boreson, ‘King of Scandinavian Humor Dies at 91 (The Everett Herald, February 1, 2017); Melinda Bargreen “The Klubhouse Is Open Again” (The Seattle Times, December 15, 1991); “Barbara Jean Boreson” (Obituary, The Seattle Times, August 20, 2017); John Louis Anderson “Scandinavian Humor and Other Myths” Nordbook, 1986); Will Jones “Yorgesson? Yust A Phoney” (‘After The Last Night’ The Minneapolis Tribune, April 18, 1950); Will Jones “Smart Swede Fails To Click” (‘After Last Night’, The Minneapolis Tribune, June 22, 1950); ” ‘Yogi Yorgesson Killed In Car Crash” (The Minneapolis Star, May 21, 1956); Susan Paynter “Boreson’s Living Proof That Silliness is Good For Your Health” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 5, 2005