Were she not untimely taken from us, ventriloquist Angela Martin (Angel Mignanelli, 1942-2004) would be turning 80 today.
Martin was a child prodigy from Astoria, Queens. She was still a tween when she appeared on the TV variety show Startime Talent Scouts (the same show that discovered Connie Francis). A 1968 item in the Daily News informs us that she “played the Palace as a headliner” years earlier. It’s quite plausible she was in one of the variety revival bills presented there in the ’50s starring Judy Garland, Betty Hutton, Danny Kaye, or Jerry Lewis...but if she had, of course, the headliner would have been Judy Garland, Betty Hutton, Danny Kaye or Jerry Lewis. Martin is also said to have appeared on The Arthur Murray Party, The Jackie Gleason Show, and The Milton Berle Show. In 1965 she made repeated appearances on NYC’s The Clay Cole Show. In 1968 she was in the Broadway show George M! occasioning that Daily News item. In 1982 she had a brief turn in the screen version of Annie.
Though she is said to have opened for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, she lived all of her life in Queens and worked part time as a piano teacher. She sang, in addition to working with her wooden partners “Angel” and “Tiny”. She was only 62 when a heart attack took her in 2004.
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For more on variety entertainment, including TV variety, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous