A big actor and singer with a big heart. Burl Ives, born in 1909 in Illinois, grew up playing pro football and spent his early years as a bandeleer and folksong writer. He came to California with a banjo and sang and entertained people and continued singing in concerts nationwide. He took his hand at acting, but several producers weren't aware he had any talent. In 1958, when he was cast as Big Daddy in the screen version of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, Hollywood took notice. The same year, he co-starred opposite Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston in the western epic, "The Big Country" playing a mean rugged patriarch. His performance in that film earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Burl Ives spent his later years lending his voice to biographies, documentaries and cartoons. He also was very active in giving money to charity, discovering medical breakthtroughs, helping children and stopping abuse to animals. He died in 1995 of mouth cancer.