This article appeared in an unknown newspaper – and I’m not sure how accurate the story about Billy giving away a million-dollar fortune … particularly when he just finalized a bankruptcy in 1930.
Was Among the First to Bring Singing Waiters to Night Life Along Broadway
KNOWN AMONG THOUSANDS
Gave Away Bulk of a Reputed $1,000,000 Fortune to Aides and Former Patrons.
William J. Gallagher, cabaret proprietor for more than forty years, died yesterday of diabetes and gland poisoning, at the age of 65.
He was known affectionately as “Little Billy” among thousands of business men, politicians, judges, theatrical men, and devotees of the city’s night life. For the last fifteen years he could be found in his underground cabaret at 711 Seventh Avenue, near Forth-seventh Street, which did not open until after sundown.
As other entertainment places, restaurants and speakeasies closed after midnight, business picked up at Billy Gallagher’s cabaret, until at dawn it was astir with reputable people still celebrating, and others who had practical reasons for circulating after dark.
Buckner Padlocked Place.
He managed to keep order, with only a few notable exceptions. One of these was just before the prohibition era when a policeman in plain clothes shot up the place and put a bullet through the leg of the manager in a rage over prices. When Emory Buckner, as United States Attorney, devised padlock proceedings in 1925 Gallagher was one of the first victims. His place was raided occasionally for the possession of liquor during prohibition.
He was said to have had at least $1,000,000 and to have given most of it away to those who had worked for him as entertainers or had spent their money in his establishment when they had plenty and who came back to him when they were down in their luck to make a touch. He was remembered along Broadway as the man who couldn’t say no to a hard-luck story.
Mr. Gallagher came to New York at the age of eighteen from Camden, N. J., where he was born. He devoted his life to the cabaret business, providing food, drink and entertainment in spots which followed the centre of night life along Broadway as it moved uptown.
Encouraged New Talent.
He was one of the earliest to introduce singing waiters uptown after they had become popular on the Bowery. His floor shows gave the first chance for a public appearance to many younger entertainers who later succeeded on the vaudeville or legitimate stage.
When he was taken ill about six weeks ago, and when the word went out that Billy Gallagher needed a blood transfusion, many of his Broadway friends volunteered. One of the first, Jack Sheerin, doorman of the cabaret for many years, was accepted.
Mr. Gallagher died in the Medical Arts Sanitarium, 57 West Fifty-seventh Street, after the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church had been administered by the Rev. Edward Leonard, pastor of St. Malachy’s, the actor’s church in West Forty-ninth Street. At his bedside were his sons, Bernard, Joseph and Walter, who is a police lieutenant in Ridgefield, N. J., and his brother Joseph. His wife died eight years ago.
The body was sent to his home, 34-51 Seventy-fifth Street, Jackson Heights, Queens, where it will remain until Wednesday. After funeral services at St. Malachy’s Church, burial will take place in Camden, N. J.