American leading lady of musical westerns of the 1940s. Born Frances Octavia Smith in Uvalde, Texas. She was raised in Texas and Arkansas. Married at 14 and a mother at 15, she was divorced at 17 (some sources say widowed). Intent on a singing career, she moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and worked in an insurance company while taking occasional radio singing jobs. After another unhappy marriage, she went to Louisville, Kentucky, and became a popular singer on a local radio station. There she took the stage name Dale Evans (from her third husband, Robert Dale Butts, and actress Madge Evans). Divorced in 1936, she moved to Dallas, Texas, and again found local success as a radio singer. She married Butts and they moved to Chicago, where she began to attract increasing attention from both radio audiences and film industry executives. She signed with Fox Pictures and made a few small film appearances, then was cast as leading lady to rising cowboy star Roy Rogers. She and Rogers clicked and she became his steady on-screen companion. In 1946, Rogers' wife died and Evans' marriage to Butts ended about the same time. Rogers and Evans had been close onscreen in a string of successful westerns, and now became close off-screen as well. A year later she married Rogers and the two become icons of American pop culture. Their marriage was dogged by tragedy, including the loss of three children before adulthood, but Evans was able not only to find inspiration in the midst of tragedy but to provide inspiration as well, authoring several books on her life and spiritual growth through difficulty. She and Rogers starred during the 1950s on the popular TV program bearing his name, and even after retirement continued to make occasional appearances and to run their Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, California. Following Dale's death, the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum moved to Branson, Missouri.
Eugenia (Jean) Bartness, the daughter of Leslie and Bessie (Barham) Bartness (and granddaughter of Tim Barham, a famous old U.S. Marshal in the Medicine Lodge Country) was born November 19, 1900 in Ohio. She lived with her grandmother in Malden, Missouri, where she attended school. Her stepfather, Harry Clark, was the organizer and company director of the Model Players stock company. They were located at the Crawford farm in Chase County, Missouri, where part of the house was converted into a theater where they rehearsed their shows and went on a tour about the area. They had their circuit where they played five nights a week, each night at a different town. They went to Harrington one night, to Osage City the next, and one of the others was Council Bluffs. They did the same show in all five places. They would present that show and rehearse another show for the next week. Jean, an attractive blonde, was the ingénue in the company. Clark came to Council Bluff, where he spotted Don Carlos Harvey working as host of a weekly amateur night, and signed him up as the leading man for his stock company. Jean and Don met doing the plays and after one season they were married on March 3, 1934. The ceremony was performed at midnight on a Saturday night at the home of Don's half-brother Hal Sheldon. On the night of the wedding a bunch of Don's old school friends found out that they were going to be married that night so they came down and were going to chivalry's him, and Jean was just scared to death. She thought they were going to do something to him and so they locked themselves in the bathroom and they couldn't get them out. Finally Don's brother went out and asked the kids to please go home. But it was a pretty wild place for a while. A chivalry is when they have an impromptu party for the couple that is being married, and in those days it was pretty customary. They'd take the couple and make the husband wheel the wife down the street in a wheel barrel and think up things like that for them to do. Jean was just scared to death that Don might be hurt, and she was quite a little older. Some people thought because of the age difference that the marriage would not last, but it worked fine. Don always referred to Jean as My Missouri bride. Don and Jean left Kansas and went to Des Moines, Iowa where Don began work on the radio, and became acquainted with fellow newscaster Ronald Reagan. In 1945 they moved to Hollywood, California, where her husband began his career in motion pictures and television. Jean started professional acting at the age of four, and has done almost every child part ever written for the stage, and was in show business all of her life. She really liked working in Hollywood and always hoped that she and Don would be able to work out their time on earth right there in Movie Town. Her first film part was in Caged with Hope Emerson, and other films on the theater screen have been City of Fear, Solid Gold Cadillac, Women's Prison, The Ten Commandments, Gun's Don't Argue and The Werewolf. She also appeared in a lot of work on television in such shows as Dragnet, Johnny Staccato, McKenzie's Raiders, Tales of the Texas Rangers, Rescue 8, Wyatt Earp, Underworld USA (a pilot), 77 Sunset Strip, December Bride and The Millionaire. Jean and Don were the owners of a movie horse named Goldie that was used by Bill Williams in his Adventures of Kit Carson television series. They were both people of very high principals, always caring for other people. Don spent time entertaining the residents of the Actors Country Home. They were active members of the Little Country Church of Hollywood, as well as members of the Roy Roger's Hollywood Christian Group, which was a fine group of almost four hundred and fifty men and women from the entertainment industry who believed that Jesus Christ has a place in the world of movies, television and recordings the same as he does in any other business. They both appeared in a play, Geraldine The Story of an Adolescent, donating their time and talents to help raise funds for the Reiss-Davis Clinic for Child Guidance. On the evening of April 24, 1963, Don had just come home to his Studio City apartment before dinner. He told Jean that he was tired and laid down on the couch, and she went back to getting dinner in the kitchen. A short while later she came in the room to call him to eat and saw his arm drop down beside him, and he died. Among those who attended his funeral were co-workers Myron Healey and Dale Evans. Jean never quite recovered from this loss and died, it was said of a broken heart, on Dec 14, 1966 in Studio City.
Peter Peters AKA The Peters Brothers, grew up on the south side of Milwaukee Wisconsin and this is where it all started at his dad's tavern on S. 16th and Grant St., Pete's Tavern. Weekends were popular with Fish Fry on Fridays and Chicken Fry on Saturdays and along with that, Peter Jr. began to sing and dance to music from the jukebox. His dad's tavern was full with customers who heard him sing and dance. Customers showed their appreciation by tossing coins (nickels, dimes and quarters) on the floor for his entertainment effort. This continued to be a weekend ritual every Friday and Saturday.
After liking what he did on weekends, he continued to be more aggressive with his talent. His parents, Peter and Stella Piotrowski, picked up on what was happening and that's when he started getting into amateur night competition. He appeared on Major Bowes amateur night at the Riverside Theater in downtown Milwaukee. The first time he appeared on the stage in front of over 2,000 people and he did very well. He won first prize which was a silver cup on May 8, 1939. That started him into getting involved and going to Morris B. Sachs and Rubin's radio show in Chicago, Illinois. He did very well in winning a watch in both places with an inscription on the back. From there he went on to New York Worlds Fair in 1939 and he appeared on the CBS Major Bowes Radio Show after which he had an 8 by 10 photograph taken with Mr. Bowes. His fond memory was walking up a flight of not more than 5 to 10 stairs to the CBS entrance. As the door opened, two males walked out and he was face to face with the first male who was Al Jolson. While Peter Jr. and his family were at the Fair, his brother Ronnie joined Peter Jr. in being televised at the Television Demonstration in the Westinghouse Exhibit in a soundproof room. They both received a certificate denoting that they both appeared on the first introduction of television in New York.
They returned home and continued to perform at his Dad's tavern and his brother Ronnie decided to get into the act. This was the beginning of The Piotrowski Brothers, which they changed to The Peters Brothers as their stage name. Now Peter Jr. and Ronnie were a team called the Peters Brothers. They appeared at the Monday night Riverside Theater Amateur Hour and they had no trouble winning first prize at all. They appeared several more times at the Riverside Theater because they were developing more to their song and dance act. Having no problem winning first prize, as usual, they were approached by a local agent who liked what he saw. After they won first prize again, they were interviewed by the Master of Ceremonies on stage, inquiring of their background. Peter Jr. told the Master of Ceremonies that his Dad had a tavern on the south side of Milwaukee. After that his Dad's tavern was standing room only every weekend with people who had seen them at the Riverside. Also they were approached by a Milwaukee local agent who was interested in booking them for club dates in and around Milwaukee. In short, they appeared for several months at the Elks Club, the Rotary Club, the Moose Club, Milwaukee Athletic Club and many conventions held at the Schroeder Hotel on 5th and Wisconsin (pharmaceutical, etc.). Appearing at the Milwaukee Athletic Club for 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs.Wabiszewski, invited guests included Wisconsin Governor, Julius Heil; Mayor of Milwaukee, Carl F. Zeidler; Milwaukee County Sheriff Shinners who presented them two deputy badges, and from all of these VIP's they received letters of recommendation to open doors for them when they go to Hollywood, California. After performing for Mr. and Mrs., Wabiszewski, they were greeted with a standing ovation. They finished the show with Mayor Carl F. Zeidler coming off the podium, getting in between Ronnie and Peter Jr. and they sang God Bless America with the audience singing with them, the last chorus together, with a standing ovation. Mr. Mayor Carl F Zeidler, who had a very good voice, would always sing God Bless America at every opportunity. C. Clifford Burmek, who then became their local manager, stated they would be going to Hollywood, California to get into the movies. After their farewell appearance at the Modjeska Theater on Mitchell Street, they were off to Hollywood, California.
Arriving in Hollywood, their local manager called several of his contacts to get them visibility. While there The Peters Brothers appeared at several well known places. They appeared at Ciro's Nightclub on Sunset Blvd.; being underage they came in through the kitchen back door, performed with great results and exited the same way they came in. They also appeared at Niles Thor Granlund (N.T.G) Florentine Gardens at 5955 Hollywood Blvd. They made appearances at The Cocoanut Grove inside the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles. They appeared at the famed Hollywood Masquers Club for Jack Benny's testimonial. Alan Mowbray was president of Masquers Club whose motto: We Laugh to Win. In the valley they appeared at Charlie Foy's supper club where such stars as Alice Faye, Phil Harris and Lou Costello etc. always frequented. Their next appearance was the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. After that show, a gentleman, Mr. Art Rush came backstage and said he would like to help them. Mr. Art Rush spoke to their parents and told them that the contract they had with their local Milwaukee Manager was no good in the State of California. The Peters Brothers mother and dad did not feel they would care to drop him because he had done so much for them up till this point.
Several days later, Rush called them and said they had an audition at Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) studios. At MGM they were taken to a sound stage and it just so happened that the studio orchestra under direction of musical conductor, Georgie Stoll was finishing recording. With that large of an orchestra (75-100 pieces) they were ready. Going through their act 8 times and the 9th time they did their act for Ida Koverman, who was Louie B. Mayer's executive secretary. After finishing their routine, Koverman stood up and said they were great and had to call Mr. Mayer. On the phone, she said Louie, you have to come down to see this, now. Five minutes later, Mayer arrived and sat down in his chair and they did their act for the 10th and last time. Upon finishing, Mr. Mayer walked up in between them, put his arms around their shoulders and asked Ronnie, what is the most you want out of life? Ronnie without hesitation said all he wants is a bicycle. Mr. Mayer laughed as everyone else did then said Ronnie not right now but in due time you will have all the bicycles you want.
Now being a part of the MGM family, they appeared for a dine and dance program at the Deauville Club on July 19, 1941. Several days later, a long limo arrives at their residence to take them to the court house in downtown LA to sign a 7 year contract with options. The judge explains details also mentioning a 7 year contract with options at $250.00 a week. Now suddenly, their Milwaukee manager gets up and complains loudly saying he can not live on $250.00 a week. Continuing his outburst, the MGM people decided on shorter term contract at $250.00 a week and that ended their court proceedings.
Now Rush, their Hollywood manager who opened doors for them at MGM and thought so highly of their family, was disappointed. Several days later he became their former manager. They never realized the background of Rush who was the personal manager of Roy Rodgers, Dale Evans, Nelson Eddy and several other well known stars.
The Peters Brothers did succeed in Hollywood and it took less than 1 year.
Ted King began his show business career at age 9, "shovling" lion, tiger and elephant dung for the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailley Circus. Finally, his hard work paid-off and he was selected to be Dopey of the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White, holding Dopey's hand, paraded the three-ring circus and got many laughs for his antics.
He later shoveled horse dung for the Rodeo of Rodeos, first with Gene Autry and Champion. Then, at age 10, in 1945, he met Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, and kept Trigger's stall clean. At the "urging" of his mother and the truant officer, Ted resumed his fourth grade studies. While in the 4th grade, he was cast in a principal role in the Eternal Way, a play that was performed by high school and college students in various school venues in the Pittsburgh, Pa. area.
Ted is currently preparing to launch into production of his own screenplay, "Tonight I Die". He is winding up financing for the $3 million project that will be filmed in Hollywood (SAG Contract). Even though Ted has produced a number of industrial films, this will be his first feature.
David Lawrence has had a love affair with Europe since he produced his first television movie over a whirlwind 5-week schedule shooting in London, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. The project, a co-production of Lawrence's Castle Combe Productions and 20th Century Fox, was based on Gerald Green's novel "Tourist". The all-star cast, including Bonnie Bedelia, Bradford Dillman, Adrienne Barbeau and Marisa Berenson, was directed by Jeremy Sommers from a script by Norman Hudis and Lawrence. During the last dozen years, Lawrence has added a diverse and successful group of movies and miniseries to his European line-up. The most ambitious, a six-hour miniseries, was produced in association with entertainment entities all over the world -- Tribune Entertainment in the U.S., Raidue in Italy, Canal Plus in France and TaurusFilm of Germany. "Voyage of Terror: The Achille Lauro Affair" starred Burt Lancaster, Eva Marie Saint and Robert Culp supported by a huge cast from nine countries. The miniseries was filmed at sea on board the actual ship, the Achille Lauro, following the route of her ill-fated voyage during which she was high jacked by terrorists who killed the American Klinghofer played by Lancaster. Other locations included sites throughout Israel and Italy. Following this year-long schedule, Lawrence produced several films in association with Titanus Produzione of Rome including "Vendetta" starring Carol Alt, Eric Roberts, Eli Wallach and Bert Young. The miniseries about the Mafia was aired in the States over the Tribune network and was successful enough to warrant a sequel with most of the original cast. In the period between these most recent efforts and "Tourist", David Lawrence was responsible for bringing to television the movie "Helen Keller: the Miracle Continues" starring Mare Winningham as Helen and Blythe Danner as her beloved teacher. Perry King co-starred as John Macy, the man loved by both extraordinary women. The script by John McGreevey was based on Joseph Lash's definitive biography and picked up the story some ten years after the end of "The Miracle Worker". Jack Warden, Vera Miles, and Peter Cushing co-starred in the film Lawrence produced near London in association with 20th Century Fox. In a remarkable change of pace, Lawrence next produced the World War Two spy thriller, "The Key to Rebecca", based on the best-selling novel by Ken Follett. The miniseries starred Cliff Robertson, David Soul, Season Hubley supported by Robert Culp, Anthony Quayle and David Hemmings who also directed. The Castle Combe Production was in association with Taft Entertainment and was filmed on locations throughout Tunisia. It reunited Lawrence with Hemmings who had directed a feature film, "Escape 2000" based on Lawrence's story. Once again proving his versatility, Lawrence produced a landmark movie for the ABC network in association with Martin Starger. Laura Z. Hobson's "Consenting Adult" was adapted by John McGreevey, directed by Gil Cates, and starred Marlo Thomas and Martin Sheen as parents whose liberal views are tested to the breaking point when their youngest son admits his homosexuality. Proving that in spite of his love of travel, David Lawrence believes there really is no place like home, he served as Executive Producer for the last year of the long-running Daytime Drama, "Search For Tomorrow" shot in New York. He followed this stint in Los Angeles by writing and producing the entertainment special, "Howdy Doody's 40th Birthday Celebration". This musical variety event re-united the original stars of the popular children's series and included clips from the early shows. Lawrence is no stranger to this form having served as Executive Producer, and often writer, of the 74 half-hour episodes of "That's Hollywood", a retrospective of the best moments of the best movies aired on ABC and produced in association with 20th Century Fox. Castle Combe and Fox also brought to CBS "M*A*S*H -- Our Finest Hour" and to NBC TV: The Fabulous 50's", both co-written and produced by David Lawrence. This is one Executive Producer who truly deserves the credit. He is intimately involved in every phase of production from concept, sales, script, through filming and post-production, even to the point of personally editing the commercials used in promoting the finished project. His respect for the value of the proper selling tools comes from Lawrence's background as a copywriter and account executive after graduating from Los Angeles City and State Colleges. His career in television began when Procter & Gamble asked him to join their production arm heading up their West Coast office. Lawrence spent ten years with P & G Productions working with television's top creative teams to develop pilots which the sponsor financed and placed on the networks. Once on the schedule, shows like "Dick Van Dyke", "Judy Garland", "Mary Tyler Moore", "Bill Cosby", "Gilligan's Island", and dozens of others became Lawrence's responsibility to supervise and publicize in conjunction with P & G's advertising agencies and public relations companies. When he left the sponsor, Lawrence entered independent production with two original book musicals, "Saga of Sonora" for NBC and "Old Faithful" for ABC with stars including Zero Mostel, Burgess Meredith, Leslie Ann Warren, Jill St. John, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. These were followed by "Alexander" for ABC starring Red Buttons and Jodie Foster and for his old company, Procter & Gamble, "The Fashion Awards" a star-studded musical special for ABC. Lawrence's work on the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of "Emily, Emily" starring Tom Hulce and John Forsythe led to his association with 20th Century Fox and the long list of credits that followed. During these years, David Lawrence served as President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and produced for the Academy tributes to a long list of television stars including Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Johnny Carson, and Milton Berle. Lawrence remains active with the Academy as a member of the Past Presidents Council. David Lawrence has finished his first novel, "Murder in Merry Old", which not surprisingly features as its central character an urbane, elegant and very rich travel authority who occasionally takes a dozen well-heeled tourists on a very special trip to exotic locales. Projected as a series of mystery novels, each dream vacation becomes a nightmare when Death becomes the 13th tourist.
|John E. Blazier
John E. Blazier was born into a large family of nine children. In his youth, he appeared in several school productions including "The Nativity" (A Wiseman - 1961), "War 'N Wedlock" (Greg Preston - 1967) and "Stardust" (Arthur Scott Jr. - 1969). His television debut was on the Harlow Hickenlooper Three Stooges Show (Channel 6, Indianapolis) in 1967. He attended Indiana University (1969-1974) majoring in Radio and Television. Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Member of the Alpha Epsilon Rho Honorary Radio and Television Fraternity (1973). Worked at WFIU Radio (news writer), WIUS Radio (news reporter and broadcaster), and WTIU Television, Channel 30, in many capacities. He worked on several television productions including "Family and Consumer Law" (cameraman/floor director), "Interview With Frank Zappa" (floor director), and the production of "Androcles And The Lion" (cameraman). He also produced a holiday television special called "A Christmas Present". In his film career he has worked directly in scenes with many film celebrities including Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, Christopher Lloyd, Charlie Sheen, John Cuzak, D.B. Sweeney, John Mahoney, Shannen Doherty, Kristy Swanson, Matt Adler, Burt Young, Yolanda Golet, Nick Nolte, Dee Wallace, Jimmy Nail, Ivan Rogers, Ben Affleck, Jeremy Davies, Phillip Rhee and Mark Rolston. He has worked with well known directors such as John Sayles, David Auspaugh, William Bindley, Strath Hamilton, William Friedken, Robert Knights, Ivan Rogers and Mark Pellington. In 1989, he appeared on the Dick Wolfsie A.M. Indiana television show with actor Burt Young discussing the difference being a well known actor vs. being an extra. During his career he has personally met many celebrities including Bob Hope, Anita Bryant, Arthur Godfrey, Michael Landon, Art Linkletter, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Red Skelton, Petula Clark, Vincent Price, Frank Zappa, Charles Lindburg, Supreme Court Justice William Renquist, Junior Samples, Peter Marshall, B.F. Skinner, Tony Dow, Jerry Mathers, Merlin Olsen, Tex Terry, Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith, James Garner, Peter Tork, Claude Akins, Richard Mull, Sheri Lewis, Leon Helm, Jon Provost, Lani O'Grady, Jay Leno, Bobby Vee, Larry Storch, Russell Johnson, Peter Tork, Jim Nabors, Mark Lindsey, George Hamilton,Fess Parker and John Astin. His special accomplishments are: Founder of the National Indy 500 Collectors Club (1985) Author of "Forgotten Heroes of the Speedways: The Riding Mechanics" Author of "The Legendary Bricks of Indy". In 1994, he was presented with the Hardee's Hometown Hero Award for Community Service. Award presented by Indiana Governor Evan Bayh.
Actor, Vocalist, and Master of Ceremonies; David was born and educated in Youngstown, Ohio on August 18, 1970 as David John Andrew Venerose, Jr. to David John Venerose, Sr. and Edith M. Venerose of Youngstown. He has one brother Joseph "Josef" Frank Venerose. David and Joseph are 11 months apart. His brother is serving as an United States Marine for 25 plus years to date. David grew up in Youngstown, Ohio as a son of a mill worker and a stay at home mom/cosmetologist. It was his father's love of movie cowboys that got David hooked on movies and acting. "Meeting Roy Rogers at the age of five led to a lifetime friendship with him, his wife Dale Evans (actress) and family". Later in life David studied at the prestigious Dana School of Music/Theatre which is ranked in the Top Ten Best Music Schools in the United States. He studied acting and vocal training with Wendell Orr, and the world renowned vocal/acting coaches Dr. Vogol, Dana School of Music and Lorenzo Malafalti of Pittsburgh, PA. His vocal/acting training achieved him success as a vocal singer, actor, and MC. David went to work in the corporate world after graduating with his BA: in 1993 where he used his education in marketing, PR, management, advertising, and philanthropy. He raised over a million dollars for charity IE: Easter Seal Society as the Development Coordinator with Pat Boone (singer/actor)and other various charities. David also worked in the corporate world as a shopping mall director where he over saw a $21 million dollar mall budgets for various shopping malls and had managed a cable television company throughout his business career. He also opened his own medical company called Mobile Freedom where he operated two stores/location serving people with disabilities throughout the United States and an eatery and pub called The Iron Shamrock. David is listed in Who's Who in Business and holds many accreditations, and awards. After a successful run in business, he later moved to Birmingham, Alabama and became the state director for National Hospice. Throughout his many accomplishments in education, the corporate world, and in business; he always still found time for his true love of acting, singing, and traveling as an entertainer for orchestras, the stage, movies, television, commercials, print work, Internet video commercials, radio, voice over work, fashion shows, music videos, bands, cruise ships, and concert halls as well as reality television. David also (hosted/MC) Miss. Teen USA. In his spare time, he volunteers at The Butler Art Museum of American Art, enjoys collecting entertainment memorabilia, art and coins. David has served as past president and secretary of The Youngstown Opera Guild, served on The Italian American Scholarship League, The Youngstown Symphony Board and the Dana School of Music New Music Society. He is affiliated with The Metropolitan Opera House, the Country Music Hall of Fame, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to name a few. His work on stage includes work with Bob Hope, (actor/comedian) to the Pope, (John Paul two). On December 31,1999 David along with 17 others world wide was invited/chosen to the Vatican in Rome to partake in the last Catholic Mass of the Millennium with His Holiness Pope Saint John Paul 2. His name was recorded in a book along with the other chosen 17 for attending the mass to be sealed for the next 2,000 years for attending the last mass of the millennium. At that mass, David received the sacraments of the church holy communion, the blood of Christ, a rosary and two gold coins by The Pontiff. "Receiving the sacraments and posing in pictures with The Holy Father and soon to be canonized a saint stand out as my most memorable occasions in my life that I will never forget". David's work includes but not limited to live performances with Bob Hope, and the world's greatest entertaining singers like Tony Bennett, (singer/actor) Frank Sinatra, (singer/actor) Luciano Pavoritti, (opera singer) and others as a vocalist/musician. He has worked everywhere from Carneige Hall to the neighborhood bar. A man who has always been known for wearing many hats and performing many tasks in the entertainment world and corporate America a versatile entertainer.