Charley Foy: Hollywood Character

I’m not certain that each and every one of the Seven Little Foys merits his or her own post on Travalanche, but besides Bryan Foy and Eddie Foy Jr, whom we’ve already done, the second oldest sibling Charley Foy certainly rates one.

Charley became the senior Foy in the act after Bryan dropped out to serve in World War One and then became a movie producer, and Eddie, Sr. retired. By the late ’20s, however the Foys were all far from children and they went their separate merry ways. From 1929 through 1934 Charley was married to fellow entertainer Grace Hayes. Other than Eddie Jr, Charley had the best movie career as a solo performer, although it too was relatively modest. Starting in 1936, he’s in about two dozen films, mostly in small supporting parts. Some of the movies remain pretty well known. They include Polo Joe (1936) with Joe E. Brown, Saratoga (1937), and Torchy Blaine, The Adventurous Blonde (1937). While he does get to do a dance specialty in Dance, Charlie, Dance (1937) ironically he does not play Charlie.

Foy’s best known turn today is offscreen — he’s the narrator of the 1955 Seven Little Foys bio-pic starring Bob Hope. If you’re like me, when you first encountered that, you may have wondered what it was all about. In his delivery of the narration, Foy comes across as cheerful and confident as any major star. The reason he does is that he was one. Charley Foy was a big deal in Hollywood, just not in movies.

In 1941 (much like Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom and Dave Chasen), Charley started his own supper club, where all the stars and other personalities went to be seen. He performed there himself, as did his best pal and room-mate Joe Frisco, as well as up-and-comers like Jackie Gleason, Phil Silvers, Peter Marshall and Rowan and Martin. A lot of Charley’s old vaudeville friends were waiters and bartenders, and other staff, and sister Mary Foy helped him run it. Charley also earned money as a Hollywood agent. He was thus one of those beloved Hollywood characters people loved so much. You can hear it in his voice in The Seven Little Foys. He’s a guy with stories to tell. (You can read about some of his and Frisco’s shenanigans in Ed Lowry’s book Joe Frisco: Comic, Jazz Dancer, and Railbird. 

The second or third iteration of Charley Foy’s Supper Club closed in 1956. Charley died in 1984.

To learn more about vaudeville and its veterans like Charley Foy, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.