Vocal Groups

(From the 1942 "Breakfast Club Family Album)

Curator's note: Cliff Petersen of "The Escorts and Betty" later became the producer of the "Breakfast Club". He was of Norwegian descent. It bothered his mother when when he assumed a Swedish dialect in "Swedehearts of Saint Paul" numbers. Sam Cowling of "The Romeos" later became the principal "Breakfast Club" comedian. Perhaps someone can tell me whether Al Stracke of "The Cadets" was related to the great Chicago folk singer, Win Stracke.


Escorts and Betty: There have been two changes in the personnel of this act who specialize in smart, modern arrangements. The original Betty (Betty Olsen) has married and been replaced by Helen (Betty) Nash. This vivacious songstress is escorted by Cliff Petersen, Floyd Holm and Ted Clare, whose real name is Hansen. Doug Craig, pianist and arranger, who joined the Navy, has been supplanted by Ken Thompson, who carries on in the same capacity. Not too deep a military secret is the fact that the boys, who hail from Duluth, Minnesota, also double as the "Swedehearts of St. Paul"---an act which comes to them quite naturally.

Romeos: Until Uncle Sam called, it used to be Sam, Gil, and Louie. The latter two unmarried members---Gil Jones and Louie Perkins---are now in the Army, while Sam Cowling, complete with his wife and two offsprings, continues with Carl (Larry) Chase and Boyce (Bill) Smith. The original trio started in Jeffersonville, Ind., and the boys, under Sam's tutelage, still specialize in Hill Billy Hammy Drammies and (usually) funny songs and sayings.

Vagabonds: One of the greatest colored quartettes, the four boys who started in St. Louis specialize in instrumental imitations, spirituals and jive. Robert O'Neal, Norval Taborn, John Jordan and Ray Grant are the boys' right names---but they are more often known as Lewishous, Cyclone, Security and Contagious. Ray, with his deep bass voice has created a sensation on Breakfast Club as "Pappy" with his "How-do gals" and crazy recipes.

Cadets: Originally it was Al, Cal, Sam and Lonnie---with Reo Fletcher at the piano. Lonnie's unfortunate death several years ago, and the fact that Sam is now Col. Sam Thompson of the U.S. Army, have resulted in two new voices---that of Homer Allen (Snodgrass) of Arkansas and Ralph Nyland of Boston---being added to those of Al Stracke and Carl Schiebe. Reo continues at the piano and frequently raises his voice three octaves to become "Little Oleetha." One of the finest legitimate quartettes in radio, listeners especially enjoy them at "Hymn Time."

Return to the 1942 Breakfast Club Family Album index page

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