Of all the interesting places on the Horace Heidt Estates, the one visitors ask most to see is the HORACE HEIDT BIG BAND MUSEUM. Upon entering the spacious room and taking a first look at the collection of citations, plaques, and trophies, visitors are amazed. For here is the most fabulous collection of actual tributes ever given to one man. When Horace Heidt bought the ranch in 1940, he was happy to find that a trophy room had already been built for various riding accolades. When organizations first started to honor Horace with gifts, he, like everyone else, put them in this trophy room. However, they started arriving in great numbers, and therefore the only solution was to add a wing onto the trophy room and subsequently turn it into a museum. A short year after the addition, work was started to increase the size of the room. Now, the largest room in the house, it contains one of the greatest private collections of its kind in the world.

Here in this room are tributes from every state in the Union, Cups, Badges, Banners, and Gifts symbolic of the cities played by the Horace Heidt Original Youth Opportunity Program. In one corner can be seen the  Door of Opportunity through which hundreds of youngsters have passed on their way to stardom. The museum has a QR Code for most performers connecting to a video on YouTube of the highlights of the artists’ careers. On one wall, is the Wheel of Fortune used on the Tums “Pot o’ Gold” program, a symbol of radio’s first major giveaway money program.

There are keys to every city. A baseball bat is inscribed and autographed by the members of the Zanesville, Ohio, Junior Chamber of Commerce; a gold trumpet is a memento from Elkhart, Indiana, once the center of the musical instrument business. On the mantle is an electric clock made from a solid block of anthracite coal, carved and polished, inscribed “Horace Heidt from his friends of the University of Scranton.” Citizens of Seattle added a Totem Pole; the Mayor of Springfield, Ill., presented a piece of oak rail split by Abraham Lincoln in 1830; the Miami, Florida, Chamber of Commerce gave a
lovely three-masted schooner model. There is also a ship model of the HMS Victory presented to Horace Heidt by the British Admiralty Office in London, England, 1950. It is an exact replica of the flagship Horatio Nelson at Trafalgar. Over the entry door is a sign from the DMZ in Korea that says “WELCOME Gate to Freedom.” The museum also showcases an authentic bomb shelter built on December 8, 1941 the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

From the Sales Executive Club of New York, there is a pair of hands applauding the sales record of the Horace Heidt Original Youth Opportunity Program. There are tom-toms, daggers, swords, Stetson hats, and even a Confederate flag, all souvenirs of various sections of the country. From the last year tour of the armed forces bases in Europe, came many new trophies: The Regimental Pipe, presented by Lt. Gen. John K. Cannon, Commander of the U.S. Forces in Europe; an inlaid oak platter containing a collection of German Coats of Arms, presented by Brig. Gen. Swift at Stuttgart Air Base. Herman Goering’s golf clubs, presented to Horace Heidt “by Col. Park Holland on behalf of Military Personnel Erding Airbase, Erding, Germany, April 27, 1950.” A beer mug, presented by the personnel at Neubiberg Air Base. So many more European trophies, it is impossible to list them all. Also too numerous to itemize are the impressive pieces that comprise Horace Heidt’s European clock collection. But, the two most valued of all to Horace Heidt is the beautiful large gold trophy with the inscription: “Presented to Horace Heidt who has brought great credit to the city from which he started- Mayor Joseph E. Smith, Oakland, California”; and the “Man of the Year” award presented by his Military Prep School, Culver Military Academy of Culver, Indiana in 1984. From civic organizations and service clubs are hundreds of testimonials to Horace Heidt.

Heidt left his “mark” in 20th Century musical history with two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and one Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, and passed his legacy on to his son, Horace, Jr. to carry on the wonderful traditions and music of the legendary American Big Bands!


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