Johnny Standley; Retired Actor, Comedian

Johnny Standley, a gold record recipient who entertained World War II troops with Red Skelton and toured with bandleader Horace Heidt, has died at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in North Hills. He was 79.

A Van Nuys resident, Standley died Wednesday of pneumonia, said his niece, Sandra Hakman of La Canada-Flintridge.

Standley, who was born in Milwaukee, toured the Midwest and Southwest for many years as an actor and comedian with his parents' tent show called "The Standley Players." During World War II, he served in the Army and entertained troops with Skelton and Dave Brubeck for the USO. In the early 1950s, he joined bandleader Heidt as a comedian and toured the country, also appearing on his television show.

In 1953, Standley recorded a comedy single on Capitol Records called "It's in the Book," which sold more than 1 million copies. He was also known for his rendition of "Grandma's Lye Soap." Standley later entertained in clubs throughout California and worked with Horace Heidt Jr.

In addition to his niece, Sandra, Standley is survived by his sister, Martha Knott of Oklahoma City, another niece and two nephews.

A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. today in the chapel at the Veterans Medical Center, 16111 Plummer St., in North Hills. Crawford Mortuary in Northridge is handling the arrangements. Contributions can be made in Standley's name to a charity of the donor's choice.

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