Joseph M. White: The Original Masked Singer

Fans of The Masked Singer may be interested to know that the concept is nearly a century old.

Joseph M. White (1891-1959) began appearing on radio as “The Silver Masked Tenor” in 1923 on station WEAF. He achieved national fame 1925 through 1935 by singing in that guise on The Goodrich Silvertown Orchestra program, sponsored by B.F. Goodrich, on NBC. The orchestra was actually the Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra, led by Joseph Knecht. White and the orchestra toured the big time Keith vaudeville circuit with a good deal of hoopla, because people were consumed with curiosity about the singer’s identity. (It was publicly revealed in 1930).

White was an Irish tenor in the tradition of John McCormack. He’d been singing and recording professionally since at least 1915. His son Robert White also became a popular Irish tenor.

To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,