Kathering "Kay" Hamilton (1909-1998)
Bluesy nightclub singer Kay Hamilton was born in Camden, New Jersey, into a stage family; her father, Joseph P. Hamilton, had toured as a minstrel show performer and later a vaudeville comedian. Attending a local Catholic school, Kay excelled in its theatricals and heeded the advice of her teachers to seek the limelight. Her debut--on a vaudeville bill--took place in 1919. She was ten years old. It became evident early on that her talents lay in singing and not in acting--so her entire career consisted of feature spots in musicals and revues, or stints as a nightclub torch singer. She appeared in 1927's "The Sidewalks of New York" and in various touring showing supporting performers such as George Jessell and Barney & his New Englanders. In the early 1930's she enjoyed success on the variety stage, holding down a ten-week stint at Chicago's Palace Theater and starring in several Del Monico's revues, particularly 1934's Rhythmania. In 1936 she married Peter Prado. The best surviving record of Kay Hamilton's style of performance was a 1937 film short, "Swing for Sale."