EVERETT — Stan Boreson, the beloved entertainer from Everett who won hearts with his wacky songs and upbeat accordion playing, died Friday.
He was 91.
In the 1950s and 1960s, local children watched Boreson sing silly lyrics and play his accordion on KING-TV’s “KING’s Klubhouse,” later “The Stan Boreson Show.” He performed on national and international stages as well. Whether it was the king of Norway or a crowd at the Everett Sausage Festival, he adored his audiences.
Boreson leaves behind his wife, Barbara, and a son and daughter, Stan and Ann. He had three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Barbara Boreson, 85, hopes people remember her husband’s love for his family and sense of humor. He was against vulgar comedy and laughed at his own jokes.
“He could put on a show for a group of people for an hour with an accordion, just telling one joke after another,” she said. “When people laughed, it made it all the more fun for him.”
Stan Boreson recorded at least 15 albums and was on television for almost 20 years, mostly as host of the “Klubhouse.” He became a famous comedian in the Northwest and was known as “the King of Scandinavian Humor.”
He performed for King Olav V of Norway. He did shows at festivals and theaters around the world and sang on television and the radio.
“You know folks, my favorite hobby is to take songs that are very popular, then change the words and see how long it takes them to become very unpopular,” Boreson once said on “The Lawrence Welk Show.” That introduction set up a lively performance of “Walking in my Winter Underwear,” one of his rewrites of holiday carols.
The son of Norwegian immigrants, he cracked jokes about his Scandinavian heritage and employed an exaggerated accent, turning “Walking in my Winter Underwear” into “Valking in my Vinter Undervear.” He would introduce songs by saying they were inspired by his Uncle Torvald, a fictional uncle with a solid Scandinavian name.
An Everett native, Boreson was one of the most famous alumni from Everett’s Longfellow school, the same grade school attended by Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson. Boreson helped Jackson with his presidential campaigns in the 1970s. He would warm up the crowd before Jackson spoke, his wife said.
“He was a good Everett boy,” Barbara Boreson said. “He sure loved Everett all his years.”
Boreson started guitar lessons at age 12 but quickly switched to accordion. He would lug the instrument to his instructor’s house in a little red wagon because it was too heavy for him to carry, he said in 2007. His first performance, on a dare, was in front of classmates at Everett High School.
Boreson graduated from Everett High in 1944 and was rejected by the Army because of an arm injury that had hospitalized him as a child. He joined the USO and traveled in Europe, performing on makeshift stages, before returning home and enrolling at Everett Junior College, now Everett Community College. He went on to study at the University of Washington.
In 1949, a program director from KING-TV came to the UW looking for local talent. Boreson was recruited for television in the days when there were no scripts, just personality and creativity.
As the host for “KING’s Klubhouse,” he performed with basset hound No Mo Shun and a collection of other characters. He had to think of fresh jokes five days a week and would try them out on his family.
After the show was canceled, Stan and Barbara Boreson ran a travel company. She planned and he entertained. On tours, he would wake up early and get out his accordion to sing a good morning song. When it was time to load up, he sang about how he couldn’t wait to get back on the bus.
For years, the couple split their time between Camano Island and Seattle. Boreson kept his humor and charm. He was in his early 80s when he released “I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore.”
He was down-to-earth and sometimes shy. Barbara Boreson would tell people that if she put her husband in a line-up with nine other men and asked folks to pick the entertainer, they’d pick him last. He was a celebrity, but he never let it change the way he treated others. He often told her that he couldn’t believe the positive reactions to his performances.
“He was humble,” Barbara Boreson said. “If you wanted a good, honest person, well, that was Stan.”
David Dilgard, a historian at the Everett Public Library, grew up in Everett during the era of “KING’s Klubhouse,” with Boreson hosting from 1954 to 1967.
“Everybody was a fan,” Dilgard said, adding that his mother-in-law dated Boreson in high school.
Dilgard last saw Boreson perform at the Everett Sausage Festival.
“He was like a pied piper, the guy with the accordion. When I was growing up, it was the instrument you played for laughs,” Dilgard said.
At the festival, it was clear to Dilgard that Boreson loved his audience as much as the crowd loved him.
“Everybody felt like they knew him because he was so kind,” Barbara Boreson said. “I don’t think there was ever any better entertainer.”
Herald writer Julie Muhlstein contributed to this report.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.