Pearl Hoff’s family came to Long Beach from Toronto. She first performed at age five as “Lil” Miss Long Beach. By age seven she was performing on the Pantages circuit and at Chautauqua shows, in Canada as well as the U.S., with her mother’s support. She toured with vaudeville shows along with two other girls who were friends of hers, Patty Kinney and Fredlyn (also spelled Fredlin, Fredline, Fredaline) Singleton. She was part of the Fanchon & Marco group, which featured the singer Rose Valyda, and sang and danced as leading soloist in their “Fanchon and Marco Idea” or traveling concept known as “Baby Songs” during a year-long tour in 1930. Aida Broadbent, who was then director for Fanchon and Marco, gave Pearl dance lessons.
Fanchon and Marco were a major force in American entertainment and consisted of Fanchon Simon and her brother Marco Wolff. It was run as a family business since another brother, Rube Wolf (extra f dropped to increase marquee size for his name) was orchestra leader and emcee at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Los Angeles through 1935 and younger brother Roy Wolff was a manager of the South Side Theater chain.
Fanchon and Marco specialized in live prologues on stage before major movies were shown in Los Angeles and they also produced complete, packaged stage shows which toured the entire country. The depth of the American depression helped to put an end to this kind of enterprise since theaters simply could not afford the shows.
During their heyday Fanchon and Marco had 48 chorus girls known as the Fanchonettes who were dancers cum gymnasts capable of a wide range of dance and athletic moves all done in unison. The more remarkable a feat you could perform the more chance you had to become a Fanchonette and the title carried with it considerable prestige and respect within the business. If in American daily life someone referred to a show as being like “a regular Fanchon and Marco production” it meant that it was a lavish spectacle which was full of big surprises.
Pearl’s older sister, Greta (Gretna?) Murray, also performed in a vaudeville comedy act, with her husband Billy Murray, and they ran the Oriental Theater in North Long Beach; she died at age twenty-six. Her brother Gordon died of tuberculosis at age 19, when Pearl was 12.
Around 1930 Pearl took on the stage name Doreen Rae. She was still associated with Fanchon & Marco, along with a ukulele playing comedian named Bob (Uke) Henshaw, the trapeze artists Ed and Jennie Rooney, The Four O’Connors, and the Allison Troupe (from Berlin), in a 1931 touring show called “Vaudeville Echoes”.
Doreen was described by reporters of 1931 as “a beautiful singing comedienne” who for a time was the assistant to Bobby “Uke” Henshaw in this show, singing while he imitated musical instruments, for example. The Fanchon and Marco shows varied with different themes called Fanchon and Marco Ideas of which “Vaudeville Echoes” was one and Doreen was involved with it touring across the country during the depression.
Around 1935, at age twenty-three, Pearl stopped touring; she married Robert Leland Mooney and had three children. She continued to perform in the Long Beach area. After her husband’s death in the late 1940s she worked at Pacific Press in Los Angeles.
For some images of Rube Wolf, performer and brother of Fanchon and Marco, and some images of Fanchon and Marco and their shows see this site:
Information about Fanchon and Marco shows can be obtained from the family website, still going strong, from which some of the information for this entry is drawn:
48 2 Clippings
48 3 Photographs
48 4 Scrapbook 1 – Pearl Hoff, ca. 1919-1930
48 5 Scrapbook 2 – Doreen Rae, ca. 1930-1931
48 6 Scrapbook 1 (reference photocopy)
48 7Scrapbook 2 (reference photocopy)