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Harold Edward Ensley
Birth: Nov. 20, 1912
Healy
Lane County
Kansas, USA
Death: Aug. 24, 2005
Overland Park
Johnson County
Kansas, USA

Television Personality. He grew up on a cattle ranch near the town of Healy, Kansas. At the age of eighteen, he was Kansas' top history student and Val Victorian of his one-room school class, despite his habit of playing hooky to go fishing. He taught himself to fish using a safety pin for a hook and a willow stick for a pole. Later in life, he was a Church of Christ preacher in Joplin, Missouri, and had his own religious radio show. While selling radio ads, a friend said that he would buy ads if Harold had a fishing show. He started that show and donated his time for free. For a theme song, he chose the Smiley Burnett song, "It's My Lazy Day", which contained the words, "Well, I might have gone fishin'"….(Sometime later, Smiley sang that song ‘live' on Harold's TV show.) In 1949 he moved to Kansas City where he wrote a syndicated newspaper column and worked for another radio station selling ads. In 1951, he talked the station into airing "The Fisherman's Friend", again for no pay. His big break came when Sears sponsored his radio show for five days a week, five dollars a show, and stayed for fifteen years. In 1953 his TV fishing show became one of the first in the Midwest to air in color. His radio show began with the new theme song "Gone Fishin'" which became his permanent theme song. "The Fisherman's Friend" became "The Sportsman's Friend." Every week for twenty-one years, one thousand one hundred and four live telecasts, with no reruns, Harold and his son Dusty filmed their adventures. They shot over two million feet of film, covering everything from snow and water skiing, duck, quail and pheasant hunting, and hang gliding to horseback riding in the high country, and of course, the main crux of his expertise, fishing. Extras on his show included his two dogs, Ben, an English Setter, and Country Squire, his pointer. He traveled in his trademark red Ford Country Squire station wagon. In 1975 his show went into nation wide syndication with fifty four markets in forty eight states for the next twenty seven years, being produced by the Kansas State Network Television Company in Wichita, Kansas. All together, "The Sportsman's Friend" was on air for forty eight straight years. He was the first World's Champion for Sports Illustrated first major fishing tournament, "The World Series of Freshwater Sport Fishing", going on to win many awards in sport fishing and hunting, including the Kansas Association of Broadcaster's Hall Of Fame, Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame, and Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. His popularity was wide spread and he was asked make several cameo appearances in Hollywood. He taught Jimmy Steward how to cast in a swimming pool, Henry Fonda how to catch trout. He fished with Tennessee Ernie Ford, Karl Malden, Rex Allen, William Holden, Denver Pyle, Mel Tillis, Kirk Douglas, Clint Walker, Clint Eastwood, and several other notables. The cast of "Gunsmoke" appeared on his show, and he appeared on "Gunsmoke" as one of Festus' drunken cousins who was thrown in jail. He guided Jed Clampett on a fishing trip during an episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies". He hunted quail with Roy Rogers and the Apollo 17 astronauts and fished with various governors, senators, and a president's son. He loved major league baseball, and fished with Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Enos Slaughter, Stan Musial, Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubec, Roger Maris, George Bret, and Mickey Mantle, who autographed a photo to him which read, "To Harold, the second best fisherman I know. (signed) Number One; Mickey Mantle." Mr. Ensley wrote two books, "Winds of Chance" and "Wings of Chance" which recount some of his life's adventures. (bio by: Allen Bailey: Dodge City Marshal) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Bonnie R Ensley (1922 - 1992)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Longview Memorial Gardens
Kansas City
Jackson County
Missouri, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Allen Bailey: Dodge City...
Record added: Oct 09, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11917637
Harold Edward Ensley
Added by: Allen Bailey: Dodge City Marshal
 
Harold Edward Ensley
Added by: Richard Parker
 
Harold Edward Ensley
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Sherry
 
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- Ryan Curtis
 Added: Aug. 24, 2014

- BigLebo
 Added: Mar. 31, 2014
remember watching your t.v. show and knew you loved people and fishing!
- Kansas Patty
 Added: Nov. 10, 2013
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