Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Williams Sisters - The Life of Dorothy

The Williams Sisters - The Vaudeville and Broadway Years (English) The Jazz Age (English) Hannah's Career (English) The Life of Dorothy (English) The Williams Sisters - De Periode van de Vaudeville en Broadway optredens (Nederlands) De Jazzjaren (Nederlands) Hannah's Carriere (Nederlands) Het leven van Dorothy (Nederlands)

THE WILLIAMS SISTERS Discography - Hans Koert

The Life of Dorothy
Bill Schoerner

The Williams Sisters, Hannah Williams and Dorothy Williams, was one of those numerous vocal groups during the 1920s. They were known as one of the hippest "girl" acts of the 1920s, ..... They were making tempo changes and varying their song sections, the Boswell Sisters later turned into an art form but which were still employed with organic logic in smart Williams novelties like Sam The Accordion Man ( from: That Devilin' Tune - Allen Lowe p. 90). Bill Schoerner made an in-depth investigation about this Pennsylvanian vocal duo. By late 1930, it seems that the sister act broke up when Hannah was hired for "Sweet and Low" a Broadway musical produced by Billy Rose and featuring his wife, Fanny Brice, George Jessel and Frank Barton. On January 26, 1931, Hannah married Roger Wolfe Kahn at the Kahn estate at Cold Springs, Long Island. Roger's father, the banker Otto H. Kahn, would not allow his son to be married to a show girl so Billy Rose terminated her contract with "Sweet and Low" at the request of her new father-in-law. Hannah's sister, Dorothy, replaced her in "Sweet and Low."
It seems that Dorothy's career in music was soon over and she became a house wife. Thanks to these Keep Swinging contributions we received some enthusiastic messages from her grand children which made it possible to fill in and finish the story of the life of Dorothy.
While Hannah Williams, New York actress and Roger Wolfe Kahn, son of Otto Kahn, financier and patron of the arts, are honeymooning, Hannah's sister, Dorothy, is taking her part in the Broadway show which Hannah left to become a bride. ( f.l.t.r.: Fannie Brice, start of the show and Dorothy). (1931)

Doug Kassel, the grandson of Dorothy Williams and Jimmy McPartland, has generously provided me with additional information about Dorothy. When we were growing up, Grandma Dorothy had already retired from show business, although she would occasionally break into song or a dance step. We didn't see Hannah that much, but were aware that she was the more "successful" of the two. She came to visit us in Chicago and we made some visits to New York.

Watch Your Credit .. International Newsreel Photo slug .. (Dorothy Williams) "Putting Over Her Song --- in Sister's Role. (see next photo for original)(1931) (photo courtesy Doug Kassel)

When our mother split from our father, we went to stay with Jimmy and Marian (McPartland) in Merrick, Long Island. At that time, about 1957, Dorothy was living in Levittown, NY and briefly married to a man named Marino Bragino. We would often spend the weekends with them. Mom was close to her half-brother, (Sergio) Mike Gomez and his family. They lived with us after he got out of the Air Force and they put us up after our return from Mexico in the mid-60's. The Gomezes moved to Northridge, in the San Fernando Valley in the late 60's and Dorothy lived with them (as far as I know), till the end. I believe at that time she was doing factory work, making aluminum screen doors or something.
New York ... Dorothy ("Dot") Williams rehearses her songs in the Broadway Revue where she has taken over the role left vacant by her sister, Hannah Williams, recent bride of Roger Wolfe Kahn, son of Otto Kahn, millionaire banker and patron of the arts. Young Kahn who has achieved some fame as a jazz band leader and pilot, met his bride more than a year ago. They were married quietly last month but the news did not leak out along Broadway until two days ago ( BS-5-10-31) (photo courtesy Doug Kassel)

Hannah, whose life was discussed in Hannah's Career, passed away on January 11, 1973 and Dorothy almost three years later in September 2, 1976.

Jimmy McPartland, Dorothy (jr) McPartland and Dorothy Williams.(ca. 1950) ( photo courtesy Doug Kassel)

The Williams Sisters entered the scene as child performers on the vaudeville stage, then progressed to the Broadway Stage. They also participated in the early excitement of the Jazz Age in the 1920's and met and performed with some of the biggest jazz legends and actors of the stage and music industry. Sadly, their careers peaked in their early twenties. Even though Hannah married wealthy men, they did not encourage her career in show business, so we may never know what she could have achieved. It's a story with an exciting beginning but an unhappy ending.

Bill Schoerner -

Bill Schoerner is an American living in Arizona. He was a research engineer but now retired. He has been a collector of vintage records for more than 40 years and has always been interested in the names on the record label, the musicians, the song writers and the instruments. His interests range from Gershwin to Jobim, but he is also a fan of opera. He is particularly interested in the history of American popular music and jazz from the first half of the twentieth century, musical casts, songs, composers and popular recordings.

The Williams Sisters - The Vaudeville and Broadway Years (English) The Jazz Age (English) Hannah's Career (English) The Life of Dorothy (English) The Williams Sisters - De Periode van de Vaudeville en Broadway optredens (Nederlands) De Jazzjaren (Nederlands) Hannah's Carriere (Nederlands) THE WILLIAMS SISTERS Discography Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Keep Swinging News letter Keep Swinging Contributions

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Blogger dana said...

nicely done ,My father is Sergio Gomez and Dorthy was my Grandmother,And i do remember grandma doing a little song and dance also. thank you dana

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful. You have done a great job. Nice to see Dorothy's life typed and set for her family and all to see. thank you. donna

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Gina said...

Hello, I am the grand daughter of the man Marino Bragino that she was briefly married to - I never met her - because they were divorced long before I was born, but my father who was also named Marino Bragino always talked and had fond memories of Dotty - as he referred to her.
Gina Bragino Lonardo

3:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful to finally read some more detailed facts about Dorothy..Jimmy mcpartland was my great uncle and Jim lanigan (his brother-in-law),is my great grandfather..or grandfather...I'm a not known about lil secret,since I was put up for adoption..thanks so much for posting this site..hopefully one day we will all be able to connect.

5:09 AM  

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