A native of Amarillo, Texas, Nutt began his career in childhood, singing gospel music on the radio with his mother accompanying on the piano, according to gradynutt.com. At age 12, he became an ordained Baptist minister and joked that he could perform legal weddings of his classmates.
Nutt graduated from Baylor University in 1957 and was a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. In 1960, he moved to Louisville, Ky., where he enrolled at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and also became pastor of Graefenburg Baptist Church in Waddy, Ky. Friendships he made there later became part of his performances, the website says.
Upon graduation from Southern in 1964, Nutt became a recruiter for the seminary, speaking on college campuses across the South. His popularity grew and led to several television appearances including as a guest host of "The Mike Douglas Show," which was the nation's top-rated daytime talk show at the time.
His big break came in 1979, the website says, when he was added to the cast of Hee Haw and was given a couple of minutes each episode to do a routine. He wrote several bestselling books and released multiple comedy albums and a Southern Gospel record.
In 1981, NBC launched "The Grady Nutt Show" starring Nutt as the pastor of a local church in which members would get into a humorous crisis and he would attempt to solve it, the website says.
The late Minnie Pearl, a Hee Haw star, said Nutt "used humor to spread his faith to a very wide audience."
Tragically, Nutt was killed in a plane crash in 1982 after a speaking engagement in Cullman, Ala.
"Over the years, we've heard from people around the world how Grady touched their lives. We couldn't think of a better time to communicate with his fans and release some of Grady's best material," Nutt's son Toby said.
The family hopes to share classic Nutt stories as well as television and radio clips on gradynutt.com, Twitter and Facebook, giving fans an opportunity for interaction, according to a news release Dec. 4. The commemorative CDs are available for purchase on the website.
"These are some of Dad's greatest bits," son Perry Nutt said. "Listening to these stories takes you back to a time before digital, when all recordings were scratchy but real."
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net
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