Carl Stuart Hamblen was born on October 20, 1908 in Kellyville, Texas, the son of a itinerant Methodist preacher. Although he enrolled in college to study for a career in teaching, country music quickly became his passion. In 1926, he landed a spot as a singing cowboy on KYFO in Abilene. In 1929, the Victor Recording Company (later known as RCA Victor) signed him to a contract and released four of his compositions. He then left West Texas and headed out to California where he became ‘Cowboy Joe’ on KFI radio in Los Angeles.
Between 1931 and 1952, he had several radio programs on the air and recording contracts with Decca Records, Columbia, Coral and RCA. He also appeared in some 10 western movies alongside stars like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and John Wayne. But the pressures of success led him to gambling and an increasing addiction to alcohol.
In 1949, Stuart’s wife Suzy persuaded him to attend a prayer meeting being held by a young Billy Graham in Los Angeles. There he made a decision to devote his life to Christ. He gave up his drinking, his radio programs and acting career, and began traveling across the country speaking and singing at Youth for Christ rallies, Billy Graham crusades, and churches with his wife, Suzy.
In the early 50s, he started a nationally syndicated radio program called the “The Cowboy Church of the Air”. When the sponsors demanded he do a commercial promoting alcohol, he refused—and the sponsors pulled out ending his show. In 1952, the Prohibition Party nominated him to run for President of the United States (Eisenhower won that year).
Stuart is best known by Christians for the many songs he wrote. His most well known is It Is No Secret, which was written in 1951 reportedly after a casual remark (“. sounds like a song”) by actor John Wayne to Stuart, so it is said.
In 1954, he was signed by RCA Victor and his first release for them, This Ole House, reached the top of the Country & Western charts as sung by Stuart, and Rosemary Clooney’s rendition reached number 3 on the pop charts.
Stuart Hamblen was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1976. He was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001, and in 2004, into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Stuart Hamblen passed away in 1989 after surgery to remove a brain tumor. Billy Graham was the guest speaker at his memorial service. Suzy Hamblen passed away in 2008 from congestive heart failure. She was 101 years old.
Colleagues and Contemporaries
- Billy Graham
- Gene Autry
- John Wayne
- Roy Rogers
In 1952 Hamblen ran for President of the United States on the Prohibition Party Ticket
- “This Old House”
- “It Is No Secret”
Stuart Hamblen singing “It’s No Secret” with an introduction by Billy Graham