Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Knice Knott's PhotoI

I love this first photo, from Knott's Berry Farm in the 1950's and featuring two performers from the wonderful Birdcage Theatre (home of classic melodramas). The man in the top hat and cape has been helpfully identified for me as  "…a very young Woody Wilson, the co-proprietor of the Birdcage". My source couldn't ID the pretty actress, who looks like she would be an ideal pure-hearted damsel. Check out the cool dad to our right, his shirt appears to have some sort of tasteful Polynesian "block printing" on it.

"Give me the deed to the farm, or I'll tie you to the buzz saw"! "Never, you cad, the Royal Mounted Police will save me"! I think I need to start wearing cape. Nya-ah-ah!

According to vintage postcards, this grannylicious lady was known as "Aunt Nellie", and she rocked the hammered dulcimer. I'm more of a Tremeloa man myself, but I have to admit that she really played the stuffing out of Zeppelin songs. 

EXTRA! EXTRA! (I added this to the post just 2 hours before publishing).

SO… I was on ebay, and I saw this flyer from the Birdcage Theatre, and had to buy it:

What do you think, could the lovely young miss in the first photo be Louise Russell? I'm going to say "definitely maybe".

And I see another familiar face: Skip Young, aka "Wally" from "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" (a staple of my after-school TV watching when I was a kid)!


Nanook said...


I would'a sworn you were an Autoharp man. I wouldn't have imagined you as a Tremeloa man. You learn something new everyday.

Thanks for the lovely early Knott's images.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I can remember a summer vacation (1967?) that took us from western Kansas to Cripple Creek Colorado to watch the Imperial Players present Flying Scud - my dad said we could boo and hiss whenever the villan came on stage and cheer for the hero! Great fun for a 10yr old!!!

Thank you Mr. Peabody...


Chuck said...

Now, I would've guessed you were into dolceolas, but what do I know?

Today's post is pretty awesome. We haven't visited Knott's at GDB in a while, and a helping of Knott's is just what I needed this morning.

The playbill is a special treat. I'm guessing KBF visitors enjoyed the 1950's Bird Cage production of "Flying Scud" much more than audiences of the 1991 Iraqi production of the same show.

Melissa said...

I have a friend who runs a small theater specializing in original Victorian-style melodramas. I was in a show there where the bad guy's whole family had big, twirly mustaches - including the dog, and me, his great-grandmother. I carried mine around on a stick like opera glasses and lowered it to speak. It was a hoot. I'll have to ask my friend if he ever made it to the Birdcage. He's the right age and has been out West.

Melissa said...

Flying Scud: The Arthur Kent Story

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Good call on the villain. Slap a pencil thin curly moosetache on him and we've got us a Snidley Whiplash double. Dudley Doright of the RCMP would be dragging him in to face Inspector Fenwick.

Great catch on the program! You have a match on the actress and who can forget Wally. Lots of early celebs (music / acting) got their start in the parks. Steve Martin at both Disney and Knotts for one.

Melissa said...

Slap a pencil thin curly moosetache on him and we've got us a Snidley Whiplash double.

Instant evil transplant.

MRaymond said...

If not Snidely Whiplash then maybe Prof. Fate.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, for some reason my family actually owned an autoharp when I was a kid, but its cheerful jangly sound was like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Bill, that does sound like fun. I still like to bring my gun to the theater and shoot off a few rounds when I've really enjoyed the performance!

Chuck, dolceolas are the poor man's tremeloa! ;-) I maybe be going to Knott's in the next week or so; if I do I will do a quick trip report.

Melissa, while I haven't seen one of the old melodramas, I did go to a small theater about a year ago, and the crowd was a big part of the show. They did a funny version of "A Christmas Carol", and there were whole families there who must have gone every year.

Melissa again, wow, until this moment I had forgotten the Scud Stud.

Alonzo, I absolutely think of Dudley Doright, and maybe even Underdog (since Sweet Polly Purebred was always in trouble)!

Melissa #3, I almost expected you to add a mustache to angry Linda!

MRaymond, that's a movie that I still haven't seen. I'm afraid it will be terrible.

Melissa said...

Linda's not evil! She's just misunderstood!

We didn't have an autoharp, dulcimer, dolceola, tremeloa, dulcitar, or diddley bow, but we had a zither that Whiskers the Cat loved to sit and pluck one string and one claw at a time.

Apparently the feline version of "Wildwood Flower" sounds a lot like the human version of "Die, Squirrels, Die."

Alonzo P Hawk said...


Push the button Max. lol

Connie Moreno said...

WOW WOW WOW what a cool post on so many levels.

On a side note, when I was a kid, it seemed that every woman over 40 used to wear some hideous granny shoes and I would say to myself: "I will NEVER wear those shoes!" Luckily, that style soon disappeared but I could never find a photo to show my young nieces and today there they are! Well, a single shoe but you can clearly see it in the enlarged close-up version of your first photo. Sorry for rambling, LOL.