The identical Connor Twins, Velma (1906-1987) and Thelma (1906-1981) hailed from Hornbeck, Vernon Parish, Louisiana. The harmonizing sisters toured big time vaudeville with a Gus Edwards revue starting in 1921. In 1922, they were booked for Broadway’s Ziegfeld Follies where they performed on a bill with the likes of Will Rogers, Gallagher and Shean, and Gilda Gray. That year, 16 year old Velma also had a small role in the movie The Leather Pushers (1922) with Reginald Denny, Edgar Kennedy, Norma Shearer and Fay Tincher. Returning to the Follies in 1923 The sisters got to work with Eddie Cantor, The Tiller Girls, Mary Eaton and her sister Pearl, and West and McGinty. Their last show for Ziegfeld was No Foolin’ (1926), featuring James Barton, Ray Dooley, Peggy Fears, Gladys Glad, Paulette Goddard, Helen Herendeen, Claire Luce, and Moran and Mack.
In 1926 (though still only 20!) the Connor Sisters split briefly. Thelma worked primarily as a singer on radio and in live engagements and Velma starred in several westerns for Universal, including The Scrappin’ Kid and The Terror with Art Accord, Coming Back and Rustler by Proxy with Fred Humes, and The Pinnacle Rider with Jack Mower. She also has a cameo in the 1928 Mack Sennett short Run Girl Run starring Carole Lombard and Daphne Pollard.
The girls reunited in 1928 to appear at the Globe Theatre in London, an engagement that lasted into the following year. They also appeared as a team in the 1930 Benny Rubin short Pirates for MGM, and the 1934 Monogram musical Million Dollar Baby. A decade later the pair reunited yet again to entertain the troops during World War II with the USO. Both sisters retired after the mid ’40s.
To learn more about vaudeville, where the Connor Sisters got their start, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.
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