1920s-40s

1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s-90s

1921 - 1946

When Donn was 10 years old, he stumbled upon a 78 RPM recording by the legendary Harry Torrani, a popular British yodeler during the 1920's and 30's. Donn was so fascinated by the art of yodeling that he immediately began to imitate Harry's style and music.

At 13, he wins his first amateur contest over a radio station in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  After winning, Donn forms his own western band and begins a successful tour of local clubs.

By 14 he turns professional and is known as "The Yodeling Ranger".

At the age of 16, Donn leaves his home in St. Vital, Winnipeg, to join the Canadian Merchant Navy. He becomes a deck boy for two years on the Canadian Pacific steamship line out of western Canada and is soon promoted to quartermaster.

In 1940, he enlists in the Royal Canadian Air Force performing deep-sea rescue operations in the Aleutians for several years.  Donn recalls: "I was yodeling to myself on the deck of the ship one evening, and one of the officers heard me. He asked me if I'd like to join one of the entertainment units - and that was the beginning of my yodeling for a living".  Donn is transferred to the "Joe Boys", a professional concert touring party, similar to the USO. They tour throughout western Canada and Alaska performing for American, British, Canadian and Australian troops.

1947

After the war, Donn is offered a tour in New Zealand under contract to R.J. Kerridge, who owned many theatres throughout the entire country. Having such a successful tour, Donn is offered an acting role in Australia for the film "Eureka Stockade" portraying a Canadian miner.  He also tours with the Goldwyn's Circus and Western Cinemas Company in Australia while hosting his own ABC network radio show.

Donn Releases several hit single recordings with Columbia Gramophone (Aust.) Pty. Ltd.:

Salt Bush Sue
Stockman's Lullaby
Let Me Die With My Boots On
Just Saddle and Ride
That Old Bush Shanty of Mine
The Ring My Mother Wore

1948

Upon arrival in Melbourne, Donn appears on radio programs broadcast from 3XY, 3UZ, 3AW and the Princess Theatre and Heidelberg Military Hospital sessions. He performs on many Australian National Radio programs including Bob Dyer's Dude Ranch, Jack Davie's Cavalcade, the National Fair, Malvern Star Show, and the R.A.A.F. Digger Session.

1949

Donn travels to the United States where he lands small acting parts in several Hollywood, California productions including "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" starring John Wayne, and "The Furies" starring Barbara Stanwyck.  He also performs with Dusty Ellison at the Avondon ballroom's first Red Barn Round Up.

"Texas Yodel" is the Cash Box Bullseye of the Week for July 2nd, 1949.
 




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Western Band


Merchant Navy


RCAF


RCAF - Alaska


RCAF - Joe Boys


Eureka Stockade set - Gordon Jackson


Eureka Stockade Peter Finch


Columbia Promo


3XY Promo


2ZB Manager - Desmond Clarke