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Holly George-Warren

[Smith, Lucille Wood; Smith (Fox), Frances Octavia]

(b Uvalde, TX, Oct 31, 1912; d Apple Valley, CA, Feb 7, 2001). American Western-music and popular singer-songwriter and actor. As Frances Fox, the name used in her first marriage, she began singing jazz, blues, and pop tunes on radio stations in Memphis in 1929. In May 1935 she took the stage name Dale Evans as staff vocalist at WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky. She moved to WFFA in Dallas, and by 1940 she was singing with the Anson Weeks Orchestra in Chicago, where she joined the CBS affiliate station WBBM. In 1941 Evans signed with 20th-Century Fox, playing bit parts in Hollywood musicals. She became a vocalist on several national radio shows, including “The Chase and Sanborn Hour” (1941), “The Jack Carson Show” (1944), and “The Camel Caravan” (1945). In 1943 she signed with Republic and, the following year, co-starred with roy Rogers, whom she married in ...

Article

Lorenzo Candelaria

(b Huentitán el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico, Feb 17, 1940). Mexican singer and actor. He is the leading interpreter of the canción ranchera (ranch song), a rurally inflected music popularized on Mexican film and radio since the 1930s. There are over 60 albums and 30 movies to his credit; most were produced in the 1970s and 1980s. His humble origins and subsequent promotion as an accessible “everyman” have helped earn a loyal following that continues to sell out live performances into the 2000s. Born to Ramón Fernández and Paula Gómez, ranchers in a small town northeast of Guadalajara, Vicente began singing and playing the guitar at age eight, assimilating the repertories and styles of the charros cantantes (singing cowboys) then popular on Mexican radio and film. He cites Pedro Infante as an important early influence. In 1954 Fernández won an amateur singing contest in Guadalajara and in 1960 received a payment of 35 pesos for performing on the local television show ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

[Hatfield, Alfred Griffith ]

(b Lessburg, VA, Nov 7, 1848; d Columbus, OH, April 3, 1921). American minstrel performer and manager. He gave his first minstrel performance as a schoolboy in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and subsequently appeared in minstrel shows, serious theater, and circuses. In the late 1870s and early 1880s he played with major minstrel troupes, and in 1886 he formed Al G. Field’s Minstrels, a large touring company that functioned until 1928. His show grew in size and splendor until it became one of the most elaborate and expensive. It was especially noted for its lavish costuming and sets. Moreover, Field’s company was the first to carry complete scenic sets and to travel in specially built railroad cars. Field wrote and directed all of his own productions and also performed in them as endman, monologist, or companion to the main comedian; he was also one of the few minstrels to become wealthy....

Article

Ronald J. Zank

(b Brooklyn, NY, June 6, 1954). American performer, playwright and librettist. Fierstein grew up in New York and worked as an actor; he also pursued his interest in painting and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He was both lead actor and playwright for Torch Song Trilogy, which originated off-off Broadway before transferring to off-Broadway and finally to Broadway (1982). He wrote the libretto for the musical adaptation of the French play and film La Cage Aux Folles (1983, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman), about a gay couple dealing with their son’s marriage into a conservative family. Fierstein also crafted the book for the short-lived Legs Diamond, a production that featured the songs and performance of Peter Allen as the title gangster. As a performer Fierstein originated the role of plus-sized mother Edna Turnblad in the musical ...

Article

Clay Motley

[The Duke of Paducah; Whitey]

(b Desoto, MO, May 12, 1901; d Brentwood, TN, June 20, 1986). American comedian and banjo player. Ford was one of the earliest country comedians to use the emerging medium of radio. Possessing a third-grade education, he joined Otto Gray’s Oklahoma Cowboys after his 1922 discharge from the Navy, which led to tours with Gene Autry and work with Chicago’s WLS Barn Dance. Leaving WLS, he joined NBC’s Plantation Party, writing most of the segments, hosting, and starring as the comedic “Duke of Paducah” for nine years, until leaving in 1942 to be the comedic star of WSM’s Grand Ole Opry. He left the Opry in 1947 to host multiple popular national radio shows, toured in the mid-1950s with the Rock and Roll Revue, and even shared the bill with a young Elvis Presley. The producers of the popular variety show Hee haw (1969–82) purchased Ford’s collection of over half a million country jokes, securing his influence on several later generations of country comedians. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in ...

Article

Sharon O’Connell Campbell

(Lenore )

(b Statesboro, GA, March 18, 1975). American performer. Embodying the “triple-threat” performance model of singer, actor, and dancer, Sutton Foster enjoyed a rapid rise to musical theater stardom. Foster debuted on Broadway in 1993 as a chorus member and understudy for Eponine in Les Misérables (opened 1987), then played Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease (1994). She appeared in Annie (1997) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1997). Foster created the role of Thoroughly Modern Millie’s Millie Dillmount in California tryouts in 2000. Despite being little-known, she was cast for the show’s Broadway (2002) opening; her performance earned Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Musical, and an Astaire Award for Best Female Dancer. Subsequently, Foster created the roles of Jo in Little Women (2005), Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone (...

Article

Alexandra M. Apolloni

(b Utica, NY, Oct 22, 1942; d Bakersfield, CA, April 8, 2013). American singer and actor. Raised in Los Angeles she began her career in show business at the age of 12, when she was recruited by Walt Disney to be one of the original Mouseketeers on the television show “The Mickey Mouse Club.” Her popularity led to a starring role in her own Mickey Mouse Club serial, “Annette.” On the basis of her fans’ overwhelming response to her on-air performance of the song “How will I Know my Love,” Funicello was offered a recording contract with Disney’s Buena Vista Records, and the song was released as a single. Under Buena Vista, Funicello released several successful singles including “Tall Paul” (Buena Vista, 1959), “O dio mio” (Buena Vista, 1960), and “Pineapple Princess” (Buena Vista, 1960). She also starred in number of Disney films, including The Shaggy Dog...

Article

[Metzler, Johann Georg]

(b Augsburg, 1761; d Dublin, March 5, 1833). German actor and dramatist. He studied law and later natural science at the University of Göttingen. From 1783 to 1801 he worked on various German and Austrian stages as a minor actor and translator of plays and comic operas. In early 1789 he joined the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. His adaptation that year of Sophie Seyler’s Hüon und Amande as Oberon, König der Elfen for Paul Wranitzky became his most successful libretto. Gieseke’s later texts for Schikaneder are mostly translations, adaptations, or travesties. In 1796 Schikaneder appointed him theatrical poet to the Theater auf der Wieden.

In 1801 Gieseke left the theatre to pursue his interests in natural science. He spent over seven years in Greenland, and in 1813 was appointed professor of mineralogy at Dublin. On a visit to Vienna in 1818–19 Gieseke purportedly claimed authorship of the bulk of the text to ...

Article

Jeannie Gayle Pool

[Knechtges, Margaret Fern]

(b Sioux City, IA, Jan 17, 1905; d Los Angeles, CA, Feb 12, 2007). American tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, vibraphonist, singer, music contractor, and advocate for women instrumentalists. She studied music with her father (violinist) and mother (singer) and began a lifetime of touring, first with a Highland dance troupe, at age seven. She took up the saxophone in high school and started her first all-girl band, the Melody Girls, in Sioux City.

In 1928 Gilbert moved to Hollywood, and toured the vaudeville circuit in a sextet of women saxophone players backing up C-melody saxophonist Rudy Wiedoeft. She founded her own band, which played the Hawaiian Islands for a year, and organized women sideliners for motion pictures through the 1930s. During this period, her bands appeared in prominent swing concerts and performed on radio. Gilbert also established herself as an advocate for women instruments through interviews and national publications in magazines such as ...

Article

Sharon O’Connell Campbell

(b Winnipeg, MB, June 2, 1950). Canadian actress. A character actress, she has worked in film and television and on stage in both musical and non-musical theater. She made her Broadway debut playing Monica in the musical I Love My Wife (1977). Her next four performances, all recognized by awards or nominations, were for non-musical plays: The Real Thing (1984), Joe Egg (1985), and Social Security (1986) on Broadway and It’s Only a Play (1986) off-Broadway. For her portrayal of the Baker’s Wife in Sondheim’s Into the Woods (1987), Gleason received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards. She played Nora in the short-lived Nick & Nora (1991) and was nominated again for a Tony Award for Muriel in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005). Gleason’s off-Broadway stage, television, and film credits are numerous; her films include Woody Allen’s movies ...

Article

(b Los Herreras, Nuevo León, México Dec 16, 1921; d Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, Sept 1, 2003). Mexican actor, singer, songwriter, and film director. Eulalio “Piporro” González Ramírez is best known for developing an idiosyncratic style of parodying Northern Mexican, or norteño, identity, lifestyle, and language through music and comedic acting for radio, stage, and film. His career spanned 60 years. He began as a newspaper reporter and radio personality in Monterrey and in US-Mexico border towns when he landed a role on the radio comedy, Ahí viene Martín Corona (Here Comes Martín Corona) produced in México City and starring the popular singer and actor Pedro Infante. At age 28, he played Infante’s elderly sidekick in 19th-century northern México where his bumbling character, “Piporro,” helped solve conflicts and dustups in local ranch life. The show’s success led to the 1951 film of the same name starring González and Infante. González enjoyed countless roles as “Piporro” in classic ...

Article

S. Timothy Maloney

(Gerard )

(b Lawrence, MA, Nov 26, 1933; d Los Angeles, Oct 30, 2007). American baritone and actor. After studying voice with Herbert Turner and Jean Létourneau in Edmonton, and george Lambert and Ernesto Vinci at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, he competed in talent showcases broadcast on CBC radio and television in the early 1950s, and began to win roles in theatrical, musical comedy, and operatic productions in Toronto, Stratford (ON), Ohio, and on CBC-TV. His first major success came as Sir Lancelot in Lerner and Lowe’s Camelot (Toronto, Boston, and New York, 1960), and the ballad “If Ever I Would Leave You” from Camelot remained his signature song thereafter. Widely considered the leading baritone of his generation, he went on to star in Broadway, touring, or TV productions of Brigadoon (which won an Emmy), Carousel, Kiss Me Kate, La Cage aux Folles, Man of La Mancha...

Article

(b New York, NY, Dec 2, 1914; d New York, NY, Oct 24, 2002). American lyricist, librettist, and actor. He sustained a lifelong writing partnership with Betty Comden. Among their joint works were the musicals Wonderful Town (1953) and Bells Are Ringing (1956), and the film script ...

Article

Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins

(David )

(b Cleveland, OH April 11, 1932). American actor. Son of comedian and musician Mickey Katz, Grey began his performing career in nightclubs in Cleveland in 1951. Realizing that playing the Copacobana would not help him to pursue a serious acting career, Grey quit the clubs and began to work in regional theater. He was hired to replace Anthony Newley as Littlechap in Stop the World—I Want to Get Off (opened 1962) on Broadway. This engagement followed with another replacement part in Half a Sixpence (opened 1965). Typecast a character actor, Grey confronted various obstacles in securing starring roles. This changed when Hal Prince hired him to play the Emcee in Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret (1966). Walter Kerr of the New York Times reviewed Grey’s Emcee as “cheerful, charming, soulless, and conspiratorially wicked.” Grey creatively cloaked his tenor voice in a bright androgynous color for the nightclub numbers. As the Emcee he danced with seductive charm. Grey received the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and later earned an Oscar for the film version (...

Article

Leon Berger

(b London, Dec 9, 1847; d Folkestone, March 1, 1912). English actor, singer, composer and writer, father of George Grossmith. He was a courtroom reporter and comic recitalist, like his father of the same name, before becoming a drawing-room entertainer: he was sometimes called ‘G.G. II’, to distinguish him from his father, or ‘G.G.’. He began a 12-year association with the Gilbert and Sullivan Savoy operas when he made his stage début in the title role of The Sorcerer in 1877. Of slight stature, with excellent diction, dapper footwork and a light comic touch, he created what became known as the patter parts or the ‘Grossmith roles’. In 1889 he resumed his lucrative Humorous and Musical Recitals, touring in England and America.

According to contemporary accounts he was not much of a singer, but his own songs display a wider tessitura than the Gilbert and Sullivan repertory suggests. He was the author of and often a performer in eight operettas, nearly 100 musical sketches and some 400 songs and piano pieces. This prolific song output was mostly in a patter style, with an infectious melody and a syllabic setting for fast delivery: a third of them were published and survive, but his manuscripts along with his performing librettos from the Savoy operas were destroyed in World War II. His songs are couched in quotidian detail: London streets and their surly cab drivers and bus conductors, seedy lodging houses, obstreperous babies, and fashionable dances as in ...

Article

Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins

[John Joseph, Jr. ]

(b Boston, MA, Aug 10, 1898; d Los Angeles, CA, June 6, 1979). American actor and performer. Haley initially became an electrician in the Boston area. However, he soon left that career to pursue vaudeville and toured in the team Krafts and Haley. He began his Broadway career in the 1924 original musical revue Round the Town. In 1929 Haley starred as Jack Martin in the musical comedy Follow Thru with lyrics by DeSylva and Brown and music by Henderson. He and his costar, Zelma O’Neal, performed the hit number “Button up your Overcoat.” Haley was later cast in the 1932 musical comedy Take a Chance by DeSylva and Schwab. In the 1948 musical revue Inside USA, Haley’s character displayed effective physical comedy while portraying a weary traveler booked in a room with a trick bed. Haley served as the radio host of Wonder Show (1938–9), a show sponsored by Wonder Bread, which featured Gale Gordon as the announcer and regular appearances by Lucille Ball. Haley replaced Buddy Ebsen as the Tin Man in the film ...

Article

Gillian M. Rodger

(b Corlears Hook, NY, Oct 26, 1844; d New York, NY, June 5, 1911). American performer and playwright. Born in the predominantly Irish community of Corlears Hook on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to a ship-building tradesman father and a minstrel song-singing and dancing mother, he apprenticed as a shipyard caulker after he left school at age 14. He also snuck away to minstrel shows and learned singing and banjo playing from his mother. When his parents divorced in the early 1860s, he signed on as a deckhand on a ship and worked as a sailor until 1867, when he settled in San Francisco and resumed work as a caulker.

Harrigan supplemented his income by performing as an Irish singer and minstrel. He was successful enough that within a year he left his work on the waterfront and moved full-time into theatrical entertainment. After the 1869 theatrical season, he returned to New York before becoming an itinerant variety performer. During a stopover in Chicago he met a young falsetto singer, Anthony Cannon, who performed as “Master Antonio,” and the pair teamed up as Harrigan and Hart. Under this name they performed songs and sketches in Irish character and in blackface....

Article

Gillian M. Rodger

[Cannon, Anthony J. ]

(b Worcester, MA, July 25, 1855; d Worcester, MA, Nov 4, 1891). American actor and singer. A mischievous child, he was placed at age 11 by his parents in the Lyman School, a reform school, in an effort to control him. He rebelled and ran away to Boston, where he worked odd jobs until a publican who employed him noticed his singing skills. He subsequently worked on the periphery of the theatrical world for a number of years as a boy soprano, billed as “Master Antonio.” In 1870 Hart was in Chicago where, by chance, he met Edward Green Harrigan, a minstrel performer ten years his senior. Harrigan was impressed by Hart’s falsetto singing voice and the two teamed up as Harrigan and Hart.

Hart made the most of his ability to sing falsetto in the duo’s sketches and songs, frequently appearing as a female character. He made both a convincing and attractive female partner for Harrigan, although he was also capable of playing the more grotesque comic female types. Female impersonation was common in minstrelsy, although after the Civil War the character type emphasized beauty and fashion to a greater extent than before the conflict. Hart portrayed a range of characters, both male and female....

Article

Robert B. Winans

[Jack ]

(b Bellefonte, PA, June 30, 1837; d Salt Lake City, UT, Sept 28, 1901). American minstrel show manager. He began his career in 1864 in Michigan and Ohio, and by the late 1860s and early 1870s he was managing his own and others’ minstrel troupes. From about 1873 he concentrated his talents on his own company, Haverly’s Minstrels, and began to buy interests in other companies and theaters in several cities. The trend toward huge companies began with Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels in 1878, with its “40, count ‘em, 40” performers; by 1880 he had a company of 100. After 1883 minstrelsy was dominated by the type of large, profitable company, traveling nationwide, that Haverly had pioneered; such companies replaced the raucous shows of the early troupes with lavishly produced variety entertainments. Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels disbanded in 1896, and Haverly retired from active management shortly after. He was probably minstrelsy’s most successful organizer and promoter, having a good sense of the public’s taste and a flair for advertising and producing....

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Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins

(b St. Louis, MO, June 18, 1934). American actor and singer. He began his career in New York in 1963 with Shakespeare in the Park and subsequently has performed in more than 185 plays and about 20 musicals. He first appeared on Broadway as Ianto Morgan in A Time for Singing by John Morris (1966). He also played the role of John Dickinson in Sherman Edwards’s 1776 (1971) and replaced Len Cariou in the title role of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (1979). He originated the role of Papa in I Remember Mama (1979), with music by Richard Rodgers. For his portrayal of Albin in La Cage aux Folles (Jerry Herman, 1983) he earned a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Albin’s character introduced the anthem “I Am What I Am,” which made a powerful statement about homosexual tolerance that coincided with the recognition of AIDS in America. In ...