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Obituaries in the News

April 23, 2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Harry Babbitt, who sang in his warm, high-baritone voice with the Kay Kyser big band on such hits as ``The White Cliffs of Dover″ and who voiced the laugh of Woody Woodpecker, died April 9 at the age of 90.

Babbitt, of Newport Beach, died of old age in a nursing home, said his son Michael.

Babbitt sang with the Kyser band from 1938 to about 1949 but also served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946.

Dubbed ``Handsome Harry″ by Kyser, Babbitt sang on several hits, including ``Three Little Fishies,″ ``On A Slow Boat to China,″ ``(Lights Out) `Til Reveille,″ ``He Wears a Pair of Silver Wings,″ ``Jingle, Jangle, Jingle″ and ``The Umbrella Man.″

Babbitt’s high voice was later used on a solo recording of ``All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,″ for which he included a lisp. He was even responsible for the laugh on ``Woody Woodpecker,″ Kyser’s 1948 hit novelty tune.

Babbitt also appeared in seven movies that starred Kyser and was featured on ``Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge,″ a popular comedy-musical radio quiz show on NBC.

Babbitt retired from show business in 1964 and started a successful career in real estate.

After Kyser died in 1985, Babbitt obtained rights to the band’s name and catalog from Kyser’s widow and toured the country with a new band. He stopped performing in the mid-1990s.

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