"Doc" Tommy Scott






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Newspaper promo ad for the Hollywood Hillbilly Jamboree, dated February 28, 1950. Location unknown, but it was part of the Southwest tour.

                   Snake Oil

Photo from the collection of Carolina Cotton, Courtesy Sharon Marie.



Ramblin' "Doc" Tommy Scott, singer, actor, ventriloquist and comic stepped into the entertainment field as he crawled up on the back of a "Doc" Chamberlain's Medicine Show wagon in Toccoa, Ga. in 1936.

Chamberlain founded his show in 1890 and when he hired Scott on he paid him a salary of $6.00 per week."Doc" M. F. Chamberlain

While Scott began playing at church socials, dances and on local radio (on April l, 1933 he did his first radio broadcast on WAIM in Anderson, S.C.), and even cut unreleased songs for RCA records Bluebird label, but it was Chamberlain that gave him his first opportunity to leave his parent's farm in Eastanollee and become a traveling showman.

Chamberlain toured the South for roughly two more years retiring his show he began in 1890 and turning it over to Scott lock, stock and medicine formulas.

Scott moved to North Carolina gaining a position on WPTF radio in Raleigh, N.C. performing as part of the Pete and Minervy dramatic troupe.

He then moved to WWVA, Wheeling, WV where he agreed to front Charlie Monroe's new band the Kentucky Partners appearing as Rambling Scotty. Monroe had just split with his brother Bill, later known as the Father of Bluegrass Music.

After a short stint at WMC in Memphis on the Garrett and Dental Snuff program, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and toured from Nashville for about a year in the elite cast that included Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, and Uncle Dave MacFrankie Scotton and Bill Monroe.

Scott wrote numerous songs among them, "Rosebuds and You" that he wrote for his longtime co-star and wife Frankie Scott became a regional hit in the South and West for Ramblin' Tommy Scott in 1950; it was later covered by dozens of artists including Country Music Hall of Famer George Morgan, The Willis Brothers, and Red Sovine. The late fiddler Benny Martin took his version of "Rosebuds" to Billboard's top 20 in 1963.

Scott also wrote bluegrass standard "You Are the Rainbow of My Dreams," and contributed to the multi-million selling pop song "Mule Train," to which he sold his rights among his 500 songs recorded and 300 authored.  He recorded for Bullet, Katona, Macy's Recordings, King, Federal, 4-Star, Family, Request, Concorde, Starday-Gusto, Suffolk, Old Homestead, Folkways, Awards, Crimson among others.

Scott became a fixture on early radio, theaters, circuses, and western and hillbilly films. He rode into theaters across the country as Ramblin' Tommy Scott and his Hollywood Hillbilly Jamboree also including tours with American United Shows, Wallace Brothers Circus and Campa Brothers Circus. Also featured on the show was Tommy and Frankie's daughter Sandra.

Carolina Cotton was the first of a string of movie stars who joined the Hollywood Hillbilly Jamboree on the road in 1950 as the group appeared in theaters and concert halls in support of the Columbia Pictures release "Feudin Rhythm" co-starring Eddy Arnold and Carolina Cotton. The show also included during this tour musicians Gaines Blevins and Eddie Williams.

Carolina was a top-notch yodeler, which was a great addition to any show especially in the western states, "Doc" Tommy Scott, 90, recalls in his autobiography "Snake Oil, Superstars and Me." "We did some great shows together. Carolina had an ease about her especially with the kids that lined up to see us."

Scott also starred in the 1950 release of the Edward Dymytrk film "Trail of the Hawk," as well as other 1940s films "Mountain Capers," "Hillbilly Harmony," "Southern Hayride," among others.

When the "Ramblin' Tommy Scott Show," credited as being the first country music television series, hit the airwaves on television in 1948, Scott made a lasting mark as a television pioneer. He returned to television in the 1950's with Tommy Scott's "Smokey Mountain Jamboree" in syndication around the country. Early television appearances also include Johnny Carson.  From 1949-1980 his touring stage show provided a vehicle for former western film stars to reach their public. Among those western stars were Carolina Cotton, Ray Whitley, Johnny Mack Brown, Sunset Carson, Monte Hale, Fuzzy St. John and Tim McCoy. Many others tried to sign on and some came for a day or two. Other stars included Uncle Dave Macon, Curley Williams, Billy Grammar, Junior Samples, Clyde Moody, "In the Heat of the Night" star Randall Franks among others.

A "Patient"During the last three decades Scott made regular appearances on shows "The Today Show" with "Late Night with David Letterman", Oprah Winfrey, "Entertainment Tonight" and others. Recent television appearances include syndicated PBS documentary "Still Ramblin'" which highlights the Scott's family early years in film and country music and HGTV's "Extreme Homes" and "Offbeat America" highlighting the couple's unique Asian-styled home nestled in the North Georgia mountains. 

Until the mid-1990s when his wife was stricken with Alzheimer's, "'Doc' Scott's Last Real Old Time Medicine Show" visited nearly 300 towns each year across the United States and Canada. To date, the show, founded by "Doc" V. O. Chamberlain in 1890, has performed over 29,000 times in towns across America and Canada.

To stay at her side at home, the former Grand Ole Opry star cancelled his national tours, limiting him to nearby appearances and his network television and radio broadcasts that she could attend.

He completed his memoirs "Snake Oil, Superstars, and Me" with co-authors Shirley Noe Swiesz (author of "Coal Dust," "Mountain Stranger," "Old Buttermilk and Green Onions," and co-author of "The Old Days in Berkeley County") and Randall Franks ("Officer Randy Goode" from TV's "In the Heat of the Night," author of "Stirring Up Success with a Southern Flavor") in 2007.

Scott still resides near Toccoa, Georgia and can be reached at Katona Productions, Inc. Box 100, Toccoa, Ga. 30577.

2006 Randall Franks