Last Updated: February 23, 2024
Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$5 Million
Jun 14, 1909 - Apr 14, 1995 (85 years old)
Jasper County
6 ft (1.85 m)
Singer, Actor, Writer, Voice Actor, Author
United States of America
💰 Compare Burl Ives' Net Worth

What Was Burl Ives' Net Worth?

Burl Ives was an American singer, musician, actor, and writer who had a net worth of $5 million at the time of his death in 1995. Burl Ives won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance in the 1958 film "The Big Country." Ives had more than 50 acting credits to his name, including the films "East of Eden" (1955), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), "Our Man in Havana" (1959), "Just You and Me, Kid" (1979), and "Two Moon Junction" (1988) and the television series "O.K. Crackerby!" (1965–1966), "The Bold Ones: The Lawyers" (1969–1972), and "Alias Smith and Jones" (1971–1972). He also performed on Broadway, appearing in productions of "The Boys from Syracuse" (1938–1939), "Heavenly Express" (1940), "This Is the Army" (1942), "Sing Out, Sweet Land" (1944–1945), "She Stoops to Conquer" (1949–1950), "Show Boat" (1954), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1955–1956), and "Dr. Cook's Garden" (1967).

Burl was also a Grammy-winning singer who released numerous albums, and he was known for singles such as ""Lavender's Blue (Dilly Dilly)" (with Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers), "On Top of Old Smoky" (with Percy Faith and His Orchestra), "A Little Bitty Tear" (with The Anita Kerr Singers and Owen Bradley's Orchestra), and "Funny Way of Laughin'" (with Owen Bradley's Orchestra). He narrated the 1964 special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and his holiday songs from that special, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas," were still charting on the "Billboard" Holiday Songs chart in the 2020s. Ives also published the several books, such as the autobiography "Wayfaring Stranger" (1948) and the children's book "Sailing on a Very Fine Day" (1954). Burl died of oral cancer on April 14, 1995, at the age of 85.

Early Life

Burl Ives was born Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives on June 14, 1909, in Hunt City, Illinois. He was the son of Cordelia and Frank Ives, and he grew up with siblings Artie, Argola, Norma, Audry, Clarence, and Lillburn. Frank was a farmer, then he took a job as a contractor for the county. One day, Burl's uncle overheard him singing with Cordelia in the garden and asked him to sing at an old soldiers' reunion. Ives performed the folk song "Barbara Allen" and impressed the audience. Burl played football at Eastern Illinois State Teachers College, which he attended from 1927 to 1929. When he was sitting in English class during his junior year, Ives decided that he was wasting his time, and as he was walking out the door, his professor made a snide comment. Burl slammed the door, causing the window in the door to shatter. Six decades later, the college named a building after him. Ives was a member of the fraternal organization The Order of DeMolay (Charleston Chapter), and he was inducted into the DeMolay International Hall of Fame in 1994. In 1927, he was initiated into Scottish Rite Freemasonry. Burl was later elevated to the highest degree and elected the Grand Cross. In 1933, he enrolled at New York's Juilliard School.

(Photo by Ernst Haas/Ernst Haas/Getty Images)


In the early '30s, Ives traveled around the U.S. as a singer and performed on the Terre Haute radio station WBOW. He began appearing on Broadway in 1938, and he got his own radio show, "The Wayfaring Stranger" (named after one of his songs), in 1940. Burl was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, and at Camp Upton, he became a cast member of Irving Berlin's "This Is the Army" and was transferred to the Army Air Forces when the show moved to Hollywood. In September 1943, he was honorably discharged. His first film was 1946's "Smoky," and he followed it with "Green Grass of Wyoming," "Station West," and "So Dear to My Heart" in 1948. The following year, Ives' single "Lavender's Blue (Dilly Dilly)" (with Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers) reached #1 in Australia. His singles "On Top Of Old Smoky" (with Percy Faith and His Orchestra), "A Little Bitty Tear" (with The Anita Kerr Singers and Owen Bradley's Orchestra), "Funny Way of Laughin'" (with Owen Bradley's Orchestra), and "A Holly Jolly Christmas" were top 10 hits on the "Billboard" Hot 100 chart. "A Little Bitty Tear" also reached #1 on the "Billboard" Adult Contemporary chart. His cover of the song "Lavender Blue" earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song after he performed it in the 1948 film "So Dear to My Heart."

In the '50s, Burl appeared in the films "Sierra" (1950), "East of Eden" (1955), "The Power and the Prize" (1956), "A Face in the Crowd" (1957), "Desire Under the Elms" (1958), "Wind Across the Everglades" (1958), "Day of the Outlaw" (1959), and "Our Man in Havana" (1959). He played Big Daddy Pollitt in the 1958 Academy Award-nominated film "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and he won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his performance as Rufus Hannassey in 1958's "The Big Country." From 1965 to 1966, Ives played the title role on the ABC sitcom "O.K. Crackerby!," and from 1969 to 1972, he starred as Walter Nicholls on NBC's "The Bold Ones: The Lawyers." He appeared in the films "Let No Man Write My Epitaph" (1960), "The Spiral Road" (1962), "Summer Magic" (1963), "The Brass Bottle" (1964), "Ensign Pulver" (1964), "Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon" (1967), "The McMasters" (1970), "The Heart Farm" (1973), "Baker's Hawk" (1976), and "Just You and Me, Kid" (1979), and he narrated the 1968 docudrama "The Other Side of Bonnie and Clyde" and the 1975 animated movie "Hugo the Hippo."

From 1971 to 1972, Burl had a recurring role as Big Mac McCreedy on the ABC Western series "Alias Smith and Jones," then he guest-starred on "Night Gallery" (1972) and "Little House on the Prairie" (1977) and appeared in an episode of the Emmy-winning 1977 miniseries "Roots." In the '80s, he appeared in the films "Earthbound" (1981), "White Dog" (1982), "Uphill All the Way" (1986), and "Two Moon Junction" (1988), and he narrated 1984's "Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure." Ives announced his retirement from the entertainment industry in 1989 on his 80th birthday, but he occasionally performed at benefit concerts until 1993.

Burl Ives

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Personal Life

Burl married Helen Peck Ehrlich on December 6, 1945, and they adopted son Alexander in 1949. When Ives and Ehrlich divorced in February 1971, Helen got custody of Alexander. Burl wed Dorothy Koster on April 16, 1971, and they remained married until his death in April 1995. Ives was stepfather to Koster's children, Rob Grossman, Kevin Murphy, and Barbara Vaughn. During his youth, Burl was a Lone Scout before the organization merged with the Boy Scouts of America, and he was "inducted" into the Boy Scouts in 1966. In 1986, the organization presented him with its highest honor, the Silver Buffalo Award, and the certificate later went on display at Pennsylvania's Scouting Museum. Ives performed at the Boy Scouts of America jamboree several times, and he narrated a short film about the 1977 National Jamboree.


Ives smoked cigars and pipes, and in 1994, he was diagnosed with oral cancer. He had several operations that were unsuccessful, then he decided against undergoing more operations. After falling into a coma, Burl passed away at his Washington home on April 14, 1995, at the age of 85. He was laid to rest at Mound Cemetery, which is located in his birthplace, Hunt City.

Awards and Nominations

In 1959, Ives won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for "The Big Country." In 1986, he was honored with a Golden Boot at the Golden Boot Awards. Burl earned four Grammy nominations, winning for Best Country & Western Recording for "Funny Way Of Laughin'" in 1963. His other nominations were for Best Country & Western Recording and Best Solo Vocal Performance, Male for "A Little Bitty Tear" (1962) and Best Recording for Children for "Burl Ives Chim Chim Cher-ee And Other Children's Choices" (1965). In 1976, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois inducted Ives as a laureate, and the governor of Illinois awarded him the Order of Lincoln for performing arts.

Real Estate

In 1974, Burl and Dorothy purchased an 8,500 square foot home in Montecito, California. Built in 1917, the home includes five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a chef's kitchen, and a conservatory. A 2,500 square foot guest house, an 80-foot swimming pool, a spa, and a stable sit on the 4.5-acre property. The estate went on the market for $16.98 million in 2014.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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