The Baltimore Sun


Vacuum cleaner collector

Stan Kann, an organist with an affinity for antique vacuum cleaners whose unlikely hobby made him a frequent guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and other talk shows, died Monday at St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis of complications after undergoing open-heart surgery.

While Mr. Kann was known in his native St. Louis for playing the Wurlitzer pipe organ at the city's Fabulous Fox Theatre, he began acquiring a national television audience on June 8, 1966, when he first appeared with Mr. Carson on The Tonight Show. He showed up with a few prized items from his collection of carpet sweepers.

Years later, Mr. Kann recalled disaster striking in that first appearance: Parts fell off his vacuum cleaners at inopportune moments while he was demonstrating them. Carson made the most of the moments. The results were hilarious.

"The stagehands put the wrong handles on several of the machines," Mr. Kann told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a few years ago. "I planned on showing the vacuums as a kind of historical demonstration. I had no idea what it would turn into."

His first appearance led to 76 more appearances on the Carson show, 89 appearances on The Mike Douglas Show and on shows hosted by Merv Griffin and stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.

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