The 1952 Chickens’ Ball, under the able leadership of Audrey Justus, Gayle Milne and Clifford Von lderstine, featured the debut of a new and mighty assemblage – the T.O.P.S. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Club. Billed as the “Mystery Club”, these hefty beauties topped the show in poundage and exuberance, gaining much applause for their skit, “The Gay Nineties Nifties”. Rumor has it that the carpenters were given the special task of shoring up the stage for the dancing of the Beef Trust chorus. Dorothy Gutman as Frisco Sal was the perfect madame and heightened the show with her excellent torch singing. As the success of the T.O.P.S. dietary program gained over the years, the impact of these amply proportioned ladies diminished; hence, their first performance was a particularly notable one.
The Civic Garden Club’s dancing girls with their fabulous tattooed lady – Marcela Harms – won many prizes. Marcella received special accolades for courage – she was allergic to her tattoo paint, developing a wild rash and ended up in the hospital.
The Masonic Club featured a Girl in Every Port theme which starred – “Daisy” Gordon, “Pansy” Forbes, “LuLu” Macchio, “Nellie” Ybaretta, “Fanny” Mueller, “Flossie” Kinsman, “Blossom” Luby, “Kewpie” Periatt, and “Rosebud” Kellogg.
The Faculty Club staged a finished and sophisticated performance with actors as puppets realistically worked on strings by puppeteers from above the set. Norman Cary, Ross Headley, Jo Carry, and Bob Irons shared the spotlight in the Gilbert and Sullivan parody.
Jerry Bundsen, making a successful switch from typewriter to stage, was an easy going and delightful M.C. in Gay ’90’s checkered suit and black derby. He was ably, noisily and entertainingly assisted by Ed Mitchell.
The “Frivolous Sals” are remembered for their fine harmonizing. The group included Ruth Goss, Helen Shamberger, Leapy Greenlee and Eleanor Gomes.
The orchestra was directed by Dorotha Rogers and included Phil Demma, Al Bragg, Lou Vargas, Stanford DeBow and Loren Denison. At Coffee Dan’s outside more music was provided by Ray Kidder, Clayton Roberts, Larry Dowdy and Harvey Woodruff.
Chickens’ Ball “grew up” in two important respects in 1952. For the first time a central make-up committee was formed under the leadership of Harold Lindsay.
Also on the subject of “growing up” ’52 was the year a special Sunday afternoon matinee of the Ball was staged especially for the kiddies. Later referred as “The Disaster” it was the first – and the LAST time children were ever included in the Ball.