Carlena Diamond: Dancing Harp Player

Born Christmas Day: dancing harp player Carlena Diamond (1900-1992).

She is best remembered today for her 1929 Vitaphone short Carlena Diamond, Harpist Supreme, in which she plays her harp, even dancing while she plays, and delivers some patter.  She also did a tribute to her father Charles Diamond, who did a similar act (dancing while playing the harp). If they’re all the same guy, a Charles Diamond performed at the Olympic Theatre in Chicago in 1897, with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus (as a minstrel) on a European Theatre in 1900,  at the Theatre Comique in St. Louis in 1910, and in the Broadway show The Girl of My Dreams in 1911. And was partnered for a time with one Mildred LeRoy, viz:

Some descriptions of Carlena’s film erroneously state that her father was Jack Diamond. I’ve confirmed (with her family), that her father was Charles, but there was a famous Jack Diamond (a.k.a. John Diamond, the King of Diamonds) in minstrelsy and vaudeville, considered a path-breaker in the art of percussive dance, known for jigs and hornpipes and developments in early tap. Jack Diamond  was born in 1823. One of his earliest promoters and producers was P.T. Barnum. Given that Charles later worked for Barnum & Bailey Circus, and danced and performed as a minstrel, he may have been Jack’s son. There was also yet another Jack Diamond, who’d need to be yet another one, for he appeared in burlesque and on Broadway in the 1940s. I put this out there publicly in spite of the confusion in hopes someone out there can help us sort it out.

At any rate, Carlena was already a pro by 1919 — I’ve found a plug for her on a bill at the Orpheum in Los Angeles that year in The Argonaut, billed as “vaudeville’s youngest harpist”. She would have been 19 at the time.  It is known that she performed with Phil Spitalny and His Orchestra for a time. And she married Frank Trado of the Trado Twins, a dancing brother act which performed in two editions of The Passing Show (1923 and 1924) and Harry Delmar’s Revels (1927-28).

Carlena’s and Frank’s granddaughter Alison Trado is a Florida-based actress. Here are Carlena and Alison together, circa late 1960s:

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