Stan Kann, the consummate vacuum cleaner and gadget collector who hilariously fumbled his way into the hearts of millions of Americans thanks to a record 77 visits on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, died Sept. 29. He was 83.
Kann was best known for his masterful renditions at the console of the mighty Wurlitzer at the venerable Fox Theatre in St. Louis. He played that organ professionally for countless performances and special events spanning a 22-year period until his move to California and national TV fame. Kann was hailed as the best-known concert organist in North America.
What most people did not know is that Kann was a car collector. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was particularly fond of Pierce-Arrow automobiles. He had been active in the Horseless Carriage Club of Missouri Inc., based in St. Louis, and upon his return to St. Louis in 1998, he rejoined that club. His most recent collector cars had been a late prewar Buick sedan, a 1956 Continental Mark II, and a 1946 Lincoln Continental.
Kann accumulated 89 television appearances on the Mike Douglas Show and was also on the Bill Cosby Show. Seldom on the screen did he converse about anything but the odd gadgets and obsolete vintage vacuums he displayed for cameras. Once among car collectors, however, he was totally “cars.”
Hardly standing 5-feet tall, Kann was a big man in the eyes of fellow car collectors. A public memorial service was fittingly held on Oct. 5 in the huge Fox Theatre in St. Louis. Donations toward the newly created Stan Kann Scholarship Fund may be sent to: Fox Theatre, 539 North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, Mo., 63103.
— Gerald Perschbacher