Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives (June 14, 1909 – April 14, 1995) was an American actor, writer and folk music singer. The prominent music critic John Rockwell has been quoted in the New York Times as saying that "Ives's voice... had the sheen and finesse of opera without its latter-day Puccinian vulgarities and without the pretensions of operatic ritual. It was genteel in expressive impact without being genteel in social conformity. And it moved people."
Born in 1909 near Hunt City, an unincorporated town in Jasper County, Illinois, Burl Ives was the son of Levi "Frank" Ives (1880 - 1947) and Cordelia "Dellie" White (1882 - 1954). He had six siblings: Audry, Artie, Clarence, Argola, Lillburn, and Norma. His father was at first a farmer and then a contractor who did work for the county and others. One day Ives was singing in the garden with his mother, and his uncle overheard them. He invited his nephew to sing at the old soldiers' reunion in Hunt City. The boy performed a rendition of the folk ballad "Barbara Allen" and impressed both his uncle and the audience.
From 1927 to 1929 Ives attended Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in Charleston (now Eastern Illinois University), where he played football. During his junior year, he was sitting in English class, listening to a lecture on Beowulf, when he suddenly realized that he was wasting his time. So he got up to leave. As he walked out the door the professor made a snide remark and Ives slammed the door behind him. Sixty years later, the school named a building after its most famous dropout.