The New York Sun published this article about Billy’s funeral on March 7, 1934; p. 14, col. 1; I never really understood how “well-connected” Billy was until I read this article. It’s not every day you find a write-up about an ancestor’s funeral where so many public officials and celebrities attended.
Saloon Keeper Has Real Broadway Funeral
OLD FRIENDS ARE IN TEARS
Show World Well Represented at St. Malachy’s Church.
They buried Billy Gallagher today from St. Malachy’s Church in West Forty-ninth street, from the vicinity in which he had spent his life. He first broke into Broadway as a caterer to the thirsts of that thoroughfare at the northwest corner of Forty-seventh street some thirty-five years ago and during the last fifteen years he lived he conducted a cabaret at 717 Seventh avenue.
It was such a funeral as Billy Gallagher would have desired – a Broadway funeral. St. Malachy’s, the “actors church,” was the ideal setting for it. And the services concluded as Billy Gallagher would have had them conclude, with a burst of sunshine illuminating his onyx coffin, while Joe White, the radio singer, known as “The Silver Mask Tenor,” sang a touching farewell and the temperamental mourners sobbed aloud in chorus.
More than any other saloon keeper, Billy Gallagher formed a direct link with the Broadway at the close of the last century. Jim Churchill, who used to be his competitor, is dead; George Rector has retired. Mike Dowling, whose place at Forty-third street and Seventh avenue was open twenty-four hours a day for years is dead. The Considine boys and Paddy Roche who used to irrigate the south side of Forty-second street at Broadway are dead. About the only one of Billy Gallagher’s old rivals of a quarter of a century ago who is alive is Tom O’Rourke and The Sun reporter did not see him at the funeral services.
Everybody else who should have been there was there: From the theater came actors, actresses and managers, bill posters and stage hands, advance agents and musicians, all former customers of Billy’s and many of them with memories of the generosity of the old time saloon keeper who never turned down anybody with a hard luck story.
From the night clubs came performers and managers, waiters and headwaiters and here and there in the church could be seen shabby old men who were young “singing waiters” when Billy Gallagher introduced that type of entertainment to what was then Longacre Square.1
All the scrubwomen who were employed by Gallagher to clean up his place every morning were at the funeral and al [sic] wept unceasingly because in Billy Galagher [sic] they lost not only a good employer but a god [sic] friend. All the members of orchestra and his floor show company were there, wiping tears out of red-rimmed eyes, for few had ben [sic] to bed last night.
Gallagher’s old performers, in years so long that nobody wanted to try to remember them, mingled with the chorus girls who were employed by him at the time of his death.
Jack Sheerin, doorman of Gallagher’s Cabaret, who contributed a blod [sic] transfusion in an effort to save his employer’s life, was a sort of unofficial floor manager and usher, seeing that all the old friends had prominent places in the center aisle.
The Rev. Edward F. Leonard, pastor of St. Malachy’s, sang a requiem high mass. The Rev. Joseph McKenna and the Rev. Patrick A. Gallagher, his assistants, acted as deacon and sub deacon respectively. A mixed quartet under the direction of the organist, Joseph Davis, chanted the responses and Joe White rendered solos before and after the mass.
One of the principal mourners was Laura, who has been the hat check girl in Gallagher’s cabaret ever since it opened. Another who was profoundly grief-stricken was Joe Callahan, formerly a manager for Gallagher and always one of his closest friends.
Others who attended the services were Sheriff Dan Finn, Jay Finn, deputy clerk of the Board of City Magistrates Court; General Sessions Judges George L. Donnellan and Owen Bohan ex-Senator Harry Doll, who succeeded Big Tim Sullivan; Deputy Chief Clerk of the City Court Charles A. Hussey and Mrs. Hussey, Alderman John Mahoney; ex-Alderman John W. McCann, Charles A. Harnett, State Commissioner of Motor Licenses, and Mrs. Harnett; James Thornton, Charles Connington, head waiter in Gallagher’s cabaret; Dick Pritchard, Gertrude Dwyer, Fred McCloy, former manager of the Columbia Burlesque Theater; Herman Beyer, the Republican leader of the Fifth Assembly district; former State Senator Elmer Quinn, Patrick H. Bird, Frank J. Clausman, Kid Broad, the former pugilist; Billy Murphy, Billy and James Fogarty, George W. Pease, Billy Arnold, Joseph W. Falvey, John J. Nevins and Mrs. Nevins Ben Levy, Michael Kennedy, former Detective Mike Quinn, John O’Connor and Tess Dardell.
Mr. Gallagher died last Sunday in the Medical Arts Sanitarium of diabetes, with which he had been a sufferer for years. At the conclusion of the funeral services the body was taken to the Pennsylvania Station, where it was put aboard a train for Camden, N. J., Mr. Gallagher’s birthplace, where it will be interred. It was accompanied to Camden by his brother, John Gallagher, and his three sons, Joseph, Walter P. and Bernard Gallagher.