Marion Snider’s gospel quartet performed on the radio for years before he became a recognized local celebrity.
The Imperial Quartet began performing on TV station WFAA in 1950.
“Television is just about making celebrities out of us,” Snider told the newspaper that year.
Snider was born in Collin County in about 1914, but he lived most of his life in Oak Cliff. He owned a piano store on Tyler Street, and he taught piano and organ to high-level musicians.
In his day, he was known as one of the greatest gospel pianists of all time.
Snider first arrived in Oak Cliff in 1934 to attend the famous Stamps-Baxter music school at 209 S. Tyler. Two years later, the Stamps-Baxter Quartet invited him to perform at the Texas Bicentennial celebration.
The quartet was so popular that they received thousands of fan letters during the run of the celebration.
After that, he accompanied the Rangers Quartet on Arthur Godfrey’s CBS radio show, according to his 2010 obituary. He served as an assistant chaplain in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
The Imperial Quartet did a bit of a “Hee Haw” act, where they portrayed a store clerk, a druggist, a mechanic and a barber on a small-town set where they performed gospel songs.
They were extremely popular, making several public appearances and touring the Southwest with country singers Eddy Arnold and George Morgan.
Snider wound up as the producer, emcee and pianist for “Songs of Inspiration,” sponsored by Oak Cliff’s own Dudley M. Hughes Funeral Home, on WFAA for 20 years until that show ended in the 1970s.
Snider was a member of the Oak Cliff Lion’s Club and served as its president in 1958, when it was the largest Lion’s organization in the United States.
His daughter, Marianne Snider of Dallas, told the Dallas Morning News in 2010, “He just loved to perform.”