James Wesley Dodd was born on March 28, 1910, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His birth name was Ivan Wesley Dodd, but he started going by James when he was still a child, and legally changed his first name from Ivan to James when he was thirty-nine years old. His parents were John Wesley Dodd and Luella Thede. His father worked in a music store and performed on local AM radio. His mother was a stenographer.
James’s parents divorced when he was still young, but they lived only a few doors away from each other for much of James’s childhood. This allowed him to go between the houses of his parents with ease, pretty much whenever he wanted to. The easy access to instruments provided to him by his father allowed James to develop a love of music when he was still a small child. He also learned salesman skills by watching his father at work at the music store, and he used
these skills in his later career as an entertainer.
James’s mother remarried to Alfred Brauer when James was twelve years old, but the marriage was short-lived. His mother is listed as a widow in the 1930 US Federal Census...