The Watson-Bernier Family MP3s
Grandparents to my wife and brother-in-law, Milton Watson and Peggy Bernier were two vaudeville sweethearts who met in the theater, married and were together for over 40 years. Peggy had a brief but colorful career on stage, radio and screen; beginning at age 14 in George M. Cohan's "Little Nelly Kelly", followed by a stint in the Al Jolson review "Big Boy". Still in her teens, Peggy had a lead role in the touring company of the hit show "Good News" (1928-29) where she featured the title tune, as well as the famous dance number "Varsity Drag". By the 1930s, Peggy had largely left entertainment to concentrate on her family and their daughter Peggy Anne.
Milton's career as a featured singer and actor in vaudeville and Broadway spanned nearly thirty years, 1920s-50s, recording dozens of 78RPM sides with the popular Paul Ash Orchestra (1920s) and the Victor Young Orchestra (1930s), appearing in many vaudeville reviews with legendary stars of the era (e.g. Mae West, Milton Berle, Jimmy Durante, et al), as well as numerous Broadway productions (opposite the Marx Brothers in the original stage production of "Animal Crackers", the original "Oklahoma!", "Annie Get Your Gun", et al).
These MP3s are my attempt at transferring the family's collection of Watson-Bernier 78s. The sound quality on some of these are just fair, but the quality of the performances still shine through the decayed tracks. Without spending a lot of money on high-tech transfers, I cleaned these tracks with SoundSoap, and tweaked manually where I could.
Also included here is a radio transcription of Peggy's sister Daisy from her many years with the Fred Waring radio show, as well as some test demos recorded by Peggy Anne when she was still a teen.
Mae West's boys, with her hand on Milton's shoulder
Mae West and Milton
Milton Berle vaudeville review "Saluta", Atlantic City NJ, 1934 -- Milton Watson front and center, sitting next to Thelma "Reefer Madness" White, The shorter man with the white pants at either end of the image is Chaz Chase (he appears twice in the image), a vaudeville performer known for his ability to eat any object. Milton Berle is the tall man with white trousers on the far right and on the theater display card behind him.
"'Varsity Drag' frocks are chic, youthful and adorable - Peggy Bernier, the 'Varsity Drag' girl in 'Good News', 1929"
"Hey where d'ja get those eyes? - Peggy Bernier", date unknown
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