With spring in full swing yesterday I finally took Kathy Biehl (our Margaret Dumont from I’ll Say She Is) up on her offer to show me around the former show biz resort of Lake Hopatcong. Folks who used to summer there included Lotta Crabtree, Joe Cook, Bert Lahr, and Bud Abbott. The main lure was the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum which has special exhibitions on the folks who summered there, with a particular emphasis on the elusive Joe Cook. But there are some historical old theatres in the region, and some notable show biz domiciles as well. Here’s what we saw:
Joe Cook’s piano, the centerpiece of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum’s exhibition on the vaudeville, Broadway and film comedian. It is etched with the autographs of dozens of show business luminaries who attended parties at Cook’s house on the lake, whimsically known as “Sleepless Hollow”. We also went there! Check it out:
Because I have no class I also walked up the driveway and photographed the house itself:
In nearby Jefferson Township, one can find the former Alfred T. Ringling (of the Ringling Brothers) estate , finished in 1916. The 28 room manor in the photograph above is now a Franciscan monastary. The 1,000 acre estate (which used to double as a winter quarters for the circus) was ignominiously cut up in later years and is now full of public roads and houses.
Our last stop: the former vaudeville house and cinema called The Darress Theatre (built 1919) in Boonton, NJ. Kathy Biehl (who has performed there) assures me that it’s haunted, and I believe her!