James L. Dempsey: From Vaudeville Composer/Performer Extraordinaire to Corporate Executive by Susan Dempsey (granddaughter)

The following account is taken from information provided to our School of Anthropology vaudeville archive by Susan Dempsey, granddaughter of the famous vaudevillian and composer:

     This is Susan Dempsey. I promised a write-up to you on my grandfather and, from what little is known of his early life, here goes.

Jessie Mae Hall: The Dainty Doll Comedienne (Including May Ward and Her 8 Dresden Dolls, Pauline Hall, Blanche Bates and Al Trahern by David Soren

     Sometimes a great vaudeville star will be so forgotten and so lost in the mist of time that it is difficult to find out anything about him or her. In the case of JESSIE MAE HALL, THE DAINTY DOLL COMEDIENNE, I became so intrigued with the sheet music I had that I had to find out more about this once obviously famous and now totally obscure young lady. There is still much mystery about her but a few facts have come to life, revealing a fascinating life and family connections.

Jill Corey: The Overnight Sensation by Albert Kopec, David Soren

The University of Arizona is pleased to house the lifetime collection of personal memorabilia of singer/actress/television star Jill Corey and that of her major league baseball star husband Don Hoak, former all-star third baseman.

This Pennsylvania Native became a regular on television's Your Hit Parade, had her own The Jill Corey Show over CBS-tv, and was a regular on an early Johnny Carson Show after being discovered by Columbia Records as a talented singer at age 17.  She also became an actress in film, television and theater. Later in life she starred on Broadway in a second career of musical theatre following the untimely death of her former baseball star husband.

This collection contains magazines, newspapers, sheet music, photographs, DVDs, CDs, records, and other documents relating to the life of Jill Corey. The inclusive dates for this collection are circa 1950s through 2000s. The collection includes materials spanning Jill Corey’s first and second careers. Publicity materials, photographs, posters, and audio/visual material from records and movies can be found in the collection as well.

Jimmy Durante: The Great Schnozzola by David Soren

Jimmy Durante (New York City, February 10, 1893 – Santa Monica, California, January 29, 1980) was a unique entertainer and reportedly one of the kindest, sweetest people at the top of the entertainment world. He was an accomplished although self-taught ragtime piano player with a singing voice that sounded like a pneumatic drill glossing over sandpaper. He couldn't dance either so he would take off his battered hat and hold it in the air and just shuffle his feet rhythmically one after the other and, for some reason, when he went into this strut the crowd would go wild.

Joseph E. Howard: Vaudeville, Broadway and Television by David Soren

Joseph Edgar Howard  (February 12, 1867 – May 19, 1961) had to entertain, from the time he was a tot literally until the moment of his death, which occurred with him having just taken an encore on-stage, 86 years later! His story may have made-up elements to it, as was often the fashion among early entertainers in order to romanticize their pasts, but vaudeville historians can document 9 wives which by itself suggests an extremely colorful life. Joe claimed to have run away from New York City to Saint Louis at the age of 8 and began his career selling newspapers and singing in saloons.

Juggling and Jugglers by Emilio Rodríguez-Alvarez

               The art of juggling, the ability to toss into the air and catch a series of objects, called props, keeping at least one in the air while others are handled, seems to be an innate ability to human nature. There are multiple historical and archaeological evidences of the presence of jugglers in the distant past, performing a series of forms that we can recognize as patterns of juggling, and that, reinterpreted, are still use in modern-day shows.


Early History of Juggling:

Julia Rooney (1887–1990): 80 Years in Vaudeville by Frank Cullen

Like many performers, Julia Rooney came from a showbiz family. Her father was Pat Rooney Sr, (1848–1892), a young, short and slight Irish immigrant who boxed and wrestled his way in America to become a famous singing and clog-dancing veteran of variety saloons. Later, he led his own variety troupe, earning as much as a thousand dollars a week. His five children, all of whom were musical, followed him into show business. The most famous of them, Pat Rooney Jr (1880-1962), spent seventy years on stages from vaudeville to Broadway, even into film and television.