CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The man born Ralph Pierre LaCock in Clarksburg in 1926 has returned to the Mountain State to become part of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.
He’s better known by his stage name, Peter Marshall, a name that has, over the years, taken him to Broadway, London, Hollywood and the radio with the “Music of Your Life” radio network, his current gig.
“Nobody really introduced me to show business, I knew, as a kid, that’s what I wanted to do,” said Marshall whose family moved throughout West Virginia, during his formative years, because of his father’s job as a pharmacist.
Marshall spent ten years in Wheeling and, later, ended up attending Huntington High School, his parents’ alma mater, before he moved to New York in his teens following his father’s death. His mother was a costume designer. His eldest sister, Joanne Dru, was an actress.
He was heading back to Huntington on Friday morning while he was a guest on MetroNews “Talkline.” “I’ve got my daughter, my wife and my niece and they’ve never seen Huntington, so it’s very exciting for me,” he told Hoppy Kercheval.
There have been reports Marshall’s stage name is actually a nod to the former Marshall College in Huntington, now known as Marshall University.
On Saturday night, Marshall was scheduled to be in Charleston to be inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame along with Melvin and Ray Goins, Wayne Moss, Tim O’Brien, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, Eleanor Steber and The Swan Silvertones. Together, they make up the fifth induction class.
Marshall was being recognized as an actor, singer and entertainer a year after hosting the event.
Over the years, he appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” starred with Chita Rivera in “Bye-Bye Birdie,” and played in “Skyscraper” with Julie Harris among many other shows. In the 1980s, Marshall was George in “La Cage Aux Folles” for more than 800 performances. He also acted in films including “Ensign Pulver,” “Swinging Along” and was the radio crooner in “Annie.”
Marshall was hired to be the original host of “Hollywood Squares” and spent more than 16 years hosting thousands of episodes of the game show.
“I’ve had a lot of awards in my life. I have five Emmys. I’m in the Television Hall of Fame but, to me, this is the epitome, this is the big one for me,” said Marshall of his induction into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.
Saturday night’s ceremony at the Culture Center in Charleston will be broadcast live on West Virginia Public Broadcasting stations starting at 7:30 p.m.
Mollie O’Brien and John Kruk, a Charleston native who is a former major league baseball player and current ESPN commentator, will co-host the event.