Bandstand host Bob Horn and a group of the show's dancers
For years Thomas G. “Tommy” DeNoble danced on Bandstand. He recorded a few records, became part of the famed "The Children's Hour" broadcasts and played the role of Sgt. Sacto on WKBS-TV, Channel 48 in Philadelphia. Then, he became a broadcast television engineer at Channel 29. It was a post he held for 32 years.
Tommy was born on Tuesday, October 3, 1939 and was raised in South Philly. For a few years, he lived in a section of the Greater Northeast. When "Bandstand" hit the airwaves in 1952, Tommy DeNoble was one of the first dancers on the show. Bob Horn and Lee Stewart were the hosts and the program was broadcast live to Philadelphia on WFIL-TV, Channel 6 from their 46th and Market Streets studio in West Philly.
Bandstand originated from Studio B, which was the largest of the three TV studios at the station’s facilities. The studio wasn’t huge said Gerry Wilkinson, Vice-President of the Broadcast Pioneers. "I know because I worked on the last live broadcast ever to originate from those facilities (in 1981 when it was the property of WHYY-TV). When you put three cameras, a set and the bleachers for the dancers, there really wasn’t a lot of room left. Because of the way it was shot, it looked larger than it really was." Studio B continued to be the Bandstand studio (and American Bandstand when it was retitled in August of 1957) until the end of 1963. By then, Dick Clark was host (taking over in 1956) and by the time the station’s City Line facilities were ready, Clark had moved the program to the West Coast.
While in high school and on Bandstand, Tommy DeNoble started his own singing group called "The Stardusters." After his time on Bandstand, he went into professional entertaining as a singer. He had a moderate Philadelphia hit called "Count Every Star" in 1957 and performed on "The Dick Clark Show" which originated from “The Little Theater” in New York City. In 1957, Tommy was graduated from St. Thomas More High School.
Tommy also performed on “The Children’s Hour,” a live Sunday morning hour long broadcast hosted by Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers’ first President, Stan Lee Broza. The program was simulcast over WCAU-TV and WCAU Radio.
DeNoble portrayed the role of Sgt. Sacto on a weekly kids show on WKBS-TV, Channel 48 in Philadelphia during the sixties. Tommy tried his hand at acting by appearing on "Mr. Novac," and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" television shows. In motion pictures, he was in "The Monkey's Uncle," which starred Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello. He also had a role in "Ship of Fools" done by Stanley Kramer.
When the acting and singing roles faded, Tommy DeNoble became a television engineer for WTAF (Channel 29), now WTXF-TV. He was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and worked at the station for over three decades. He left the broadcast outlet when he became ill in early 2000.
Tommy continued singing in his off hours. One of his last events was at the Keswick Theater along with the Pennsylvania Pop Symphony.
DeNoble died of sepsis on Monday, January 19, 2004. He was 64 and resided in Chalfont, Pennsylvania (Bucks County). Previously, he and his family lived in West Philly. Tommy and his wife, Loretta had three sons; Jimmy, Joey and Tommy.
"Tommy DeNoble was one of the first 'Bandstand' regulars. He had a following that was unbelievable. He was truly a local star. The mention of his name brings back many fond memories of 'Bandstand' in its early days," said Dick Clark who was the Broadcast Pioneers’ PERSON OF THE YEAR in 1980.
"He was just a nice kid …and he had the biggest smile. It was a really wonderful time," said Broadcast Pioneers member Jerry Blavat. Blavat was a contemporary of DeNoble and the Geator was also a regular on the Bandstand broadcasts. Both danced on the show during the 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 seasons. "Tommy loved Eddie Fisher and he wanted to pattern himself after Eddie Fisher and he even sounded like Eddie Fisher." Philadelphian Fisher, by the way, had worked on several WFIL broadcasts including “The Magic Lady.”
Rockabilly Legend Charlie Gracie (Philly's own) said: "I was deeply saddened to learn of Tommy's passing. We were very friendly during the early days of Bandstand and I saw him quite often. Tommy was always a genuine guy--a fine person! With the right break, Tommy should have become a big name. I always said he had a far better voice than most of the teen idols who came out of this area--he certainly had the talent and the looks. He was a part of Philadelphia folklore and will be missed. I extend my deepest condolences and prayers to his family."
On Friday evening, November 18, 2011, Tommy DeNoble was inducted posthumously into the Broadcast Pioneers' Hall of Fame.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Bransome
Researched and written by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
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