Movie and a Show!

The STANLEY Theater

Northwest Corner of Broadway & Market Street

Postcard derived from the above 1926 photograph

When the Stanley Theater at Broadway and Market Street was first opened to the public February 19, 1926, movies were silent, television had not been invented, and commercially broadcast radio programming was not yet in its third year of existence. Legitimate theatre, vaudeville, and other forms of live entertainment were more the rule than the exception that they have become today. In many theaters, movies would share the spotlight with stage shows. 

Prior to World War I, the Temple Theatre in the 400 block of Market Street, along the the Lyric, the Towers, and the old Broadway Theatre at Broadway and Sycamore Street hosted plays, concerts, vaudeville, and other live entertainments. After the war the increasing popularity of movies resulted in the conversion of the Towers and Lyric to movie houses, the razing of the old Broadway, and the majestic Temple gave way to a new post office, that still serves Camden today. The wave of construction that engulfed Camden in the 1920s brought a host of new theatres, most of which were primarily movie houses. The crown jewel of the new theatres built during this period was undoubtedly the Stanley.

Built and operated by the Stanley Corporation of America, and costing in excess of $1,000,000, the Stanley for many years featured a stage show every Sunday that often featured nationally known acts. Some of these entertainers are well remembered today, others are almost completely forgotten, and of course, there were many who were not at all well known, even in their own time. In show business, fame is for most but a dream, and when it arrives, it is only for a fleeting moment.

On this page we will first take a look at the floor show that appeared at the Stanley on June 4, 1939, which featured five acts. The two headline acts were singer Cass Daley, and the dance team of Mayris Chaney and Edward Fox. The opening acts were the comic Wiere Brothers, Cappy Barra's Swing Harmonica Ensemble, and a precision dance team, the Gae Foster Girls. All of these acts turned up in movies at one time another. 

On that day your 25 cents not only got you the stage show, but a double feature, Robert Taylor and Myrna Loy in the romantic comedy Lucky Night, and Sons of Liberty, featuring Claude Rains and wonderful character players Gale Sondergaard, Donald Crisp, and Montague Love...... and the Stanley was air-conditioned as well. Not too shabby for a quarter!


Camden Courier-Post - June 2, 1939

Click on Image To Enlarge

Cass Daley
(Catherine Dailey) July 17,1915 - March 22, 1975

Marriage is a matter of give and take,
but so far I haven't been able to find anybody who'll take what I have to give

A variation on the Martha Raye type of efferverscent-but-plain man hunter, Cass Daley had teeth as prominent as Raye's, but usually less prominent comedy relief roles.

As she was growing up kids made fun of her beanpole body, jutting butt and buck teeth. She got some measure of revenge by winning amateur contests with her clowning and singing. In her teens she worked in a factory, but her clowning -- which included an imitation of the foreman -- got her fired. At 17 she got a job as a hatcheck girl and got a chance to perform in the same New Jersey nightclub in which she worked. She sang "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" while strumming the ukulele.

Daley sang at walkathon marathons (a craze captured in the film "They Shoot Horses Don't They"). She married an agent who suggested she concentrate on comedy, and put more novelty songs into her act. She was in vaudeville for nine years. She replaced Judy Canova in "The Ziegfeld Follies of 1939."

The same year she co-starred in "The Yokel Boy" on Broadway. Her plain face and Olive Oyl body typed her for rural rube roles, though she grew up in Pennsylvania. "I was never sensitive about my rear or my teeth," she once said. "They made money for me...have you ever noticed that all comediennes have buck teeth or a big mouth? Look at them: Martha Raye, Judy Canova, Carol Burnett, Kaye Ballard, right down the line..."

Daley began making film appearances in the 40's, starting with "The Fleet's In." She was especially effective in Olsen & Johnsons' "Crazy House," and in her own personal favorite, "Riding High" with Victor Moore. In that one she sang "He Loved Me Till the All Clear Came" and "Willie the Wolf." At the same time she was also getting radio work. On "The Frank Morgan Show" in 1944 she evolved her catch phrase "I said it and I'm glad!" She spent two years on to the "Fitch Bandwagon" and had her own "Cass Daley Show" in 1950. She was a frequent guest on Bing Crosby's Kraft Music Hall program.

Her son was born in 1949 and after that, she was more interested in her home life than her career. In 1967 she made a comeback in the film "The Spirit is Willing" but was disappointed to find few offers of work after she made the talk show and variety circuit on TV. In the 70's she toured in "The Music Man," "The Apple of His Eye" with Buddy Ebsen and 1972's nostalgic "The Big Show of 1936." Her comeback ended with a shatter of glass. Alone in her apartment, the 59 year-old comedienne apparently fell and landed on her glass coffee table. A shard of glass jammed into her throat and she bled to death before her husband came home and discovered her.

Click on these links to listen to Cass Daley!

Cass Daley's Medley

Cass Daley & Hoagy Carmichael sing Grandma Teeter Totter

Stage Appearances: The Music Man, The Apple of His Eye, The Big Show of 1936 (1972)

Films: The Fleet's In (1942), Riding High (1943), Crazy House (1943), Duffy's Tavern (1945), Out of This World (1945), Ladies Man (1947), Variety GIrl (1947), Here Comes the Groom (1951), Red Garters (1954), The Spirit is Willing (1967), The Phynx (1970), Norwood (1971)

Radio: The Frank Morgan Show (1944), Fitch Bandwagon, The Cass Daley Show (1950)

Chaney & Fox
Mayris Chaney & Edward Fox

A dance team on the lines of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the duo appeared together in the 1930s and early 1940s. They had appeared in many venues in America and internationally. They are noted as the first act to appear at the Trocadero in Sydney, Australia in April of 1936, and for performing a dance known as the Windsor Waltz.

The partnership apparently broke up by the early 1940s. Mayris Chaney put together a dance troupe, which appeared in at least two movies. The Mayris Chaney Dance Trio appeared in the 1943 feature Hi'ya, Sailor),  and The Mayris Chaney Dancers were in 1944's  Weekend Pass. She also wrote one of the song featured in the 1945 productiion, In Old New Mexico, the second of Monogram's 1945 trio of "Cisco Kid" westerns, featuring Duncan Renaldo as Cisco.

Mayris Chaney attracted a food deal of press attention in the early 40s for activities outside of show business. A close friend of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who is seated in the picture above, Mayris Chaney had been given a job in the Office of Civilian Defense,  as an assistant in the OCD physical fitness program. The program was widely criticized in its time for a variety of reasons, mostly it seems in retrospect to do with Eleanor Roosevelt's presence in it.

Films: Hi'ya, Sailor (1943), Weekend Pass (1944)

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) and US president Franklin D Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) after attending a Christmas service at the Foundry Methodist Church in Washington, 13th January 1942. From left to right, Lord Beaverbrook, Eleanor Roosevelt, Churchill, Sir Dudley Pound, Roosevelt, Brigadier General Edwin M Watson, the President's military aide, Mrs J R Roosevelt, Mrs Charles Hamlin, Diana Hopkins and dancer Mayris Chaney.

The Wiere Brothers
Harry, Herbert, & Sylvester Wiere

The Wiere Brothers, Harry, Herbert, and Sylvester, were a trio of zany real life brothers who were fine musicians as well as inspired comics. Their family had a long show business tradition, the brothers were born in 1906, 1908, and 1912, in Berlin, Vienna, and Prague, respectively, as their parents appeared across central Europe. .   

In 1922, the brothers formed the Wiere Brothers comedy act and began performing in theatres and on stages. They were quite popular and in 1933 made two shorts for the British Pathe studio; one, Treble Tappers, was shot at the and were filmed in at the Cinema Ball in Paris, France. 

Click here to see the A Little Fun Frolic with The Wiere Brothers, a 1933 Pathe Film.

Click here to see the Wiere Brothers in Treble Tappers.

They came to America for the first time in 1935 and remained in 1937. As the Nazi menace began to spread over Europe they made the move permanent upon their return.

The Wiere Bros. were an exceptionally talented comedy team having the ability to play numerous instruments, sing, dance and perform acrobatics while being extremely funny in the process. Their act was a headliner on the theatre and night club circuit, and in films they are very funny, but unfortunately were not used very frequently.  Each had their own unique comic personality, but Sylvester often did the most outrageous acrobatics of the three. Very late in their career, on an appearance on Rowan and Martins Laugh In, the three brothers walked across the stage with Herbert in front, Harry in the middle and Sylvester last. As the brothers walked by Herbert flipped his 

derby hat in the air over Harry and it landed on Sylvester. Another routine required Sylvester to balance a bass fiddle on his chin. 

Their first North American film appearance was in Vogues of 1938 (1937), followed by the 1941 production, The Great American Broadcast, 1943's Swing Shift Maisie, Hands Across the Border (also made in 1943) and 1944's Showboat Serenade.  

Click here to see the Wiere Brothers as "The Stradivarians" in The Great American Broadcast

The brother's next film appearance was in the Road to Rio , starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, in 1947. This film best captured the Wiere's dance and music routine. In this movie Bing decides to teach three Brazilian street dancers (the Wiere Brothers) one sentence in English each. One learns "You're in the groove, Jackson", another learns "This is murder!", and the third learns "*You're* telling *me*!" For the rest of the movie they respond to every situation with one or another of these sentences, which seem to be endlessly appropriate. This proves that if you can only study three sentences in English, those are the three to learn...

Click here to see the Wiere Brothers in Road to Rio

The Wieres moved to television in 1951 as regulars on the James Melton-hosted Ford Festival, where they co-starred with Vera Vague (Barbara Jo Allen) and midget actor Billy Barty. 

In 1962 they were featured in their own TV series, Oh, Those Bells, where they played the custodians of a Hollywood prop shop. The pilot for this show was produced by Jules White, who was responsible for the majority of the Three Stooges greatest films. The show ran for 13 episodes, from March to May of 1962, and also featured Reta Shaw, best remembered as Hope Lange's housekeeper in the Ghost and Mrs. Muir,  Henry Norell, who appeared in as a guest starred at least 9 other times on various shows in the early 1960s, and had several minor film roles as well; and Carol Byron, who had a similar career. 

The Wiere Brothers last film appearance came in 1967, in the Elvis Presley vehicle Double Trouble. 

The brothers turned up in the March 31, 1969 episode of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.  Sylvester Wiere suffered a heart attack and died unexpectedly in July of 1970. After Sylvester's death, Harry and Herbert went into semi-retirement, but continued to work occasionally in television and on stage. In January of 1992 Harry Wiere died. Herbert passed away in 1999.

Each had their own unique comedy personality, but Sylvester often did the most outrageous acrobatics of the three. On an appearance on Rowan and Martins Laugh In, the three brothers walked across the stage with Herbert in front, Harry in the middle and Sylvester last. As the brothers walked by Herbert flipped his derby hat in the air over Harry and it landed on Sylvester. Another routine required Sylvester to balance a bass fiddle on his chin. 

Cappy Barra's Swing Harmonica Ensemble

Cappy Barra Boys - Early 1940's

Pro Robbins (Irving Rubenstein),
Charles Leighton, George Fields, Al Green

Cappy Barra Boys - Early 1940's

Phil King (who acted as spokesman and leader, but not a player), Pro Robbins (Irving Rubenstein),
George Fields, Charles Leighton, and Al Greene.
This shot was during the opening number, when they lined up and sang their theme song,
"Harmonica Gentlemen" (written for them by songwriter Henry Nemo).

The Cappy Barra Harmonica Ensemble was formed in 1935 in New York City, NY by promoter Maurice Duke. The group was named after the capybara, a large South American rodent. The Cappy Barra Harmonica Ensemble specialized in playing big band arrangements on the harmonica.

They made numerous radio and movie appearances and had a lucrative career in Vaudeville. Players in the group included; Charles Leighton, George Fields, Sam Scheckter, Don Ripps, Phil King, Sam Sperling, Joe Mullendore, Leon Lafell, Nat Bergman, Phil Solomon, Alan Greene and Pro Robbins.

Most of the group broke up after America entered World war II, and the act finally disbanded in 1944. 

"Cappy" was Leon "Cappy" Lafell, whose real name was Leon Lehrfeld, born February 5, 1913.  he first started playing the harmonica at age five and by the time he was fifteen he competed and came in second in an Albert Hoxie harmonica competition in Philadelphia, immediately joining Hoxie’s harmonica orchestra and played in it for several years afterwards.

In 1934 he joined Carl Freed’s Harmonica Harlequins and when that broke up in 1935 he joined The Cappy Barra Harmonica Ensemble. Specializing on the polyphonia, Lafell played with the Cappy Barra group until the outbreak of World War Two.  After the war he played polyphonia with The Harmonicats for a couple of years during the late 1940’s.

A capable vocalist, Leon Lafell also recorded with Johnny Hodges, Frankie Newton and Duke Ellington during the 1930’s.

The group first appears in film in a 10 minute musical short made in 1936 called Musical Airwaves. The next film, 1938's  Mad About Music, was an entirely different matter. It was a vehicle for Deanna Durbin, and costarred Herbert Marshall, Gail Patrick, British actor Arthur Treacher, and William Frawley, best remembered as Fred Mertz in the long-running I Love Lucy television series. 

Click here to see Cappy Barra & his Harmonica Band in Mad About Music.

1941 saw the group in Pot o' Gold with James Stewart and Paulette Goddard. Stewart plays Jimmy Haskell, a music-loving, harmonica - playing man who comes across a poor but excellent band that rehearses on a boarding house roof.

A film released after the group had disbanded was the Three Stooges film Rockin' in the Rockies. In this film likable con man Shorty (Moe) runs a modern day ranch for Rusty (Jay Kirby). He meets NY showgirls June (blonde Mary Beth Hughes) and Betty (Gladys Blake) plus Larry and Curly (in a Reno club owned by Vernon Dent) and invites them to stay there. In this 63 min. long Columbia musical Moe more or less takes the role that Ted Healy had in the early days of the Stooges. He has his hair combed back and actually gets a girl. The Stooges sing “Wahoo”, do a termite inspector routine and Larry and Curly try to mount a horse and briefly appear in drag. The Hoosier Hotshots do several numbers and play cowhands. After many comic misunderstandings, a big audition show is put on. When a visiting producer says “I’m going crazy!” Moe says “Don’t brag, we’re nuts already!” The musical highpoint is when Spade Cooley and his western swing band (featuring fiddles, an accordion and electric guitar) do “Miss Molly.” The Cappy Barra Boys play their harmonicas and a horse and a stuffed trophy head talk. This film has been seen on cable in recent years. 

Click here to see Cappy Barra & his Harmonica Band in Rockin' in the Rockies.

1945 also saw the band appear in the film Radio Stars on Parade, performing "Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are", written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn. In the later movies, the group is billed as "The Cappy Barra Boys".

Click here to see The Cappy Barra Boys in Radio Stars on Parade.

Click on Images to Enlarge

Gae Foster Girls

Gae Foster was a choreographer who worked both in film and on Broadway. Her dance troupe was active as early as the August of 1934, when they appeared at the Roxy in New York City on a bill with The Ink Spots,  Herman Hyde & Co., Sally Burell, singer Drew Gary, The Tom Lomas Company, The Coltman Brothers, and Max & His Gang. The Gae Foster Girls were a feature at the Roxy well into the 1940s, and were also known as the Gae Foster Roxyettes. By 1938 the Gae Foster Girls were quite well known. On March 11th of thsat year, five of the dancers appeared on the NBC Spelling Bee radio show, taking part in a spelling showdown against five New York University freshmen.

1938 was a very busy year, for Gae Foster. Her most notable work was the choreography and musical staging for the original Broadway production of Hellzapoppin, which ran for 1404 performances between September of 1938 and December 17, 1941. Besides Hellzapoppin, her dance troupe, the 16 member Gae Foster Girls, had appeared in four shorts. The Knight Is Young and The Prisoner of Swing with with June Allyson, Broadway Brevity: The Candid Kid with Phil Silvers, were released in 1938, and One for the Book, with Betty Hutton, came out in 1939. Swing Opera, a two-reel musical-comedy update of Michael Balfe's operetta "The Bohemian Girl, also came out in 1939. All of these films were directed by Roy Mack. 1939 also saw another short with June Allyson, All Girl Revue, directed by Lloyd French.

Click here to see the Gae Foster Girls in All Girl Revue

Her dancers appeared with the Ink Spots again on July 6, 1941 on Steel Pier in Atlantic City. Heading the bill was Dinah Shore, The Inks Spots, the Three Sailors, The Juvelys, Frank & Jean Hubert, Goodrich & Nelson, the Ben Yost Singers, Dick Dana, Pinkie Lee, Bobby Morris, and the Music Hall Orchestra. This was an unusually big, 85 minute show. "When caught on Sunday afternoon, the close of the biggest weekend for several years, it was necessary to take off feature film (The Flame of New Orleans) in order to put on more vaude shows to keep waiting lines of crowd in order." The Ink Spots took over the house with their harmonies. In white tuxedos and white ties, they sang Do I Worry, Brown Girl, If I Didn't Care and had to beg off despite audience calls for more of their favorite selections.

In 1944 Gae Foster choreographed the roller skating number in the musical movie Pin Up Girl Girl, which starreBetty Grable, John Harvey , Martha Raye, Joe E. Brown, and Eugene Pallette

The Gae Foster girls were active in the ice show Skating Vanities of 1949. In the early 1950s, the troupe made its way to television, being featured on Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town show. It's interesting to note that the troupe was called the Roxyettes as late as January 25th of 1953, but were being referred to as the Gae Foster Toastettes by March 1st..

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