Retro Charlotte

Jaycee Jollies at Radio Center

Photographer’s view of rehearsal, March 1955.
Photographer’s view of rehearsal, March 1955. The Charlotte Observer

In 1955 the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) held their tenth annual variety show, this time at Radio Center on South Boulevard. Profits from the “Jaycee Jollies” shows went toward good works in the community and 1955 was their biggest year to date!

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An excerpt from the Charlotte Observer, March 6, 1955:

‘Jollies’ Curtain Monday To Mark 10th Anniversary

Monday night, it’s “Jaycee Jollies time” again and it’s anniversary time, too.

The annual variety show will be 10 years old, and it has become so popular, the sponsors are running it for a full week for the first time.

To mark this milestone, a number of “hit” stars from past “Jollies” will be on the program at Radio Center. In all, about 100 entertainers are to take part. The usual formula will be used: minstrel show, first half, variety show, second half.

This is the first time the show has been staged anywhere other than the Armory-Auditorium. Performances at Radio Center will begin at 8:15 p.m., through Saturday.

The Junior Chamber of Commerce has won a number of honors with its big variety package. The “Jollies” have taken the State Jaycee award for the best money-making project, and it has been recognized elsewhere as a potent prospect for profit.

And the profits have gone to extremely worthy causes. In all, Jaycee officials estimate that $40,000 from ticket sales has gone into projects at Mecklenburg Sanatorium; the city’s slum clearance program in 1946 and 1947; supplying a teacher for handicapped children, and donations to the Park and Recreation Commission for facilities at Freedom Park. ...

The first production ran three nights. The profit was about $3,000. It was used to install headsets and intercommunication equipment at Mecklenburg Sanatorium so the patients could hear music and radio programs. It has been a tradition, also, to give a special version of the “Jollies” for Sanatorium patients the night after the final performance. This will take place one week from tonight. ...

The costumes have always been fully professional, and the customers demand encore after encore from their favorites, such as the Newman Sisters, Bud Coira, Henry Swanzey, Sunny Rose Sangster and Jack Pharr.

Jaycee members are looking forward to the new auditorium. “We’ve been limited in the past by poor acoustics and other backstage problems. If the public thinks the ‘Jollies’ is a fine show now, wait until we get a good auditorium. That will be something!” one of them stated.