Percy Oakes (and Pamela Delour): Movement and Management


Today is the birthday of Percy Oakes (1900-1997). A West Virginia native, he first performed with an amateur minstrel** show as a child. He moved to Chicago and found a job as a printer in the nineteen-teens, taking lessons in dance and guitar. This led to work as a chorus boy in a touring musical, which led to his teaming in a ballroom dance act patterned after the Castles with Pamela Delour, whom he later married. For their showstopper, Oakes would lift Delour twirl her over his head, a spectacular and novel move at the time. Martin Beck caught the act at a nightclub and booked them for the Orpheum Circuit. They became a major big time act, playing the Palace five times and working with all the major headliners of the day, people like Elsie Janis, Frank Fay, Patsy Kelly, Fanny Brice, Jack Norworth, Rae Samuels, and Bill Robinson. At the same time, Oakes began to get his feet wet in management, first handling Sessue Hayakawa, the headliner on one of his bills. By 1930, Oakes had transitioned completely into being an agent, which job he performed for the next several decades.

To find out more about  the history of vaudeville, including ballroom dance teams like Percy Oakes and Pamela Delour,  consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.