Big Daddy Graham

Last updated

Big Daddy Graham
Born
Edward Gudonis

(1953-05-29)May 29, 1953
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedSeptember 8, 2021(2021-09-08) (aged 68)
Occupation
  • Radio host
  • comedian
  • actor
  • writer
Employer WIP
Spouse(s)Debbie
Children2

Edward Gudonis (May 29, 1953 – September 8, 2021), known professionally as Big Daddy Graham, was an American comedian, writer, actor, recording artist, and sports radio personality. He hosted 94 WIP-FM in Philadelphia from 1997 to 2019. [1]

Contents

Early life

Graham was born in Southwest Philadelphia on May 29, 1953. [2] [3] He was of Lithuanian and Irish descent. [4] He attended West Catholic Preparatory High School, [2] and was nicknamed "Big Daddy" by his friends when he was twelve years old. [5]

Career

Standup comic

Big Daddy Graham performed comedy for over 35 years at clubs, colleges, corporate and private parties, as well as banquets and fundraisers. His show, Two Funny Philly Guys, with fellow comedian Joe Conklin, was performed in theaters such as the 1,000 seat Borgata Music Box in Atlantic City, New Jersey and the Broadway Theater in Pitman, New Jersey. [6] He also appeared on Showtime, MTV, A&E, [7] and was voted Philadelphia's funniest comedian by Philly Magazine and other publications a total of 15 times. [8]

Graham recounted how he opened for fifteen members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [4] These included Ray Charles, [7] Smokey Robinson, [4] B.B. King, and Gladys Knight. [7]

Radio

Graham co-hosted 1210 AM’s The Sports Attack with Scott Graham and Neil Hartman, where he interviewed sports personalities. He subsequently joined WIP in 1997 and served as a full-time host on sports talk radio station 94 WIP for over two decades. [2] [9]

Graham began recording a podcast, Big Daddy Graham’s Classic Rock Throwdown, on Wildfire Radio in 2014. As of August 2017, he recorded over 170 episodes, counting down songs as they relate to a particular topic each week. [10]

Writer, playwright, and actor

Last Call (2003), the book Graham wrote about his father, sold over 30,000 copies in the Philadelphia area. He adapted Last Call into a one-man show, which he has performed to audiences at Society Hill Playhouse and the Media Theatre. [11] He later co-authored The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists with Glen Macnow in 2007. [12] It went on to sell over 40,000 copies and a TV show was being planned at the time of his death. [7]

Graham wrote the back page for South Jersey Magazine, [13] 7 Mile Magazine, and the Sea Isle Times. [14] He also wrote for City Paper and CSNPhilly.com. [15] [16]

Graham performed as Oscar in three productions of The Odd Couple, and was a member of TROUP, a federally funded group of twelve actors who performed up and down the east coast at prisons, homes of the elderly, playgrounds and libraries for over two years. [17] Graham also appeared in a production of Androcles and the Lion as the lion. [18]

Recording artist

In 1984, WMMR’s ground-breaking Morning Zoo picked up Graham’s satirical recording of his Catholic School upbringing, "Nuns!" [19] His song "Let’s Call In Sick" was heard on over 300 radio stations across the country and was still played on Monday mornings as of 2017. [20] His songs sold over 100,000 copies between three albums and four CDs. [21]

Personal life

Graham was married to Debbie Garvey until his death. [2] [4] Together, they had two daughters: Keely and Ava. They resided in the Mullica Hill section of Harrison Township, New Jersey, in his later years. [2] [5] Ava followed in her father's footsteps and worked on the WIP Morning Show. [2]

Graham suffered a ruptured blood vessel in July 2019 that damaged his spinal cord and resulted in him being paralyzed from the waist down. [22] He died on the evening of September 8, 2021, at his home. He was 68, and had heart failure that was further complicated by the effects of his spinal trauma. [2]

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References

  1. Katz, Ken. "About Big Daddy". www.bigdaddygraham.com. Archived from the original on October 21, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Tornoe, Rob (September 9, 2021). "Longtime WIP host Big Daddy Graham dies at 68". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  3. "The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists by Macnow, Glen and Big Daddy Graham". Biblio.com. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Vineberg, Andy (September 24, 2013). "25 things you didn't know about Big Daddy Graham". Burlington County Times. Westampton, New Jersey. Archived from the original on September 11, 2021. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  5. 1 2 Strauss, Robert (August 29, 2004). "The Sun, the Sand and Big Daddy". The New York Times. p. 14. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  6. "Big Daddy Graham, Joe Conklin bring "Two Funny Philly Guys" back to Broadway Theatre". NJ.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Nagy, Rob (February 27, 2013). "Big Daddy Graham, Joe Conklin return to The Colonial Theatre". The Mercury. Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on September 12, 2021. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  8. ""2 Funny Philly Guys" Take Over A.C." NBC 10 Philadelphia. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  9. Ralph, Pat (September 9, 2021). "Longtime WIP listeners, friends pay tribute to Big Daddy Graham". PhillyVoice. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  10. "Big Daddy Graham - Wildfire Radio". Wildfire Radio. Archived from the original on May 12, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  11. "Big Daddy recalls his own dad in book and on stage". Philly.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  12. Macnow, Glen; Graham, Big Daddy (March 29, 2007). The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists. Running Press. ISBN   9780762432745.
  13. "- SouthJerseyMagazine.com". www.southjerseymagazine.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  14. "Should you avoid or embrace talking politics on your summer vacation?". PhillyVoice. April 15, 2017. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  15. Morrison, John F. (April 10, 2012). "Steve Fredericks, 72, longtime Philly sportscaster". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  16. "Longtime Philly sports radio overnight host Big Daddy Graham dies". NBC Sports Philadelphia. September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  17. "Big Daddy Graham, Joe Conklin bring "Two Funny Philly Guys" back to Broadway Theatre". NJ.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  18. "Last Call Bios | Theatre Exile". theatreexile.org. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  19. "The Right to be Funny - SouthJerseyMagazine.com". site.southjerseymagazine.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  20. "PressReader.com - Connecting People Through News". www.pressreader.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  21. Ford, Bob (February 28, 1998). "Big Daddy Graham will do anything for a laugh. Anything". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on September 10, 2021. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  22. Tornoe, Rob (July 26, 2019). "WIP host Big Daddy Graham off the air, in ICU after emergency surgery". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 11, 2021.