William J. (affectionately known as “Little Billy”) Gallagher was born around the late 1860s/early 1870s, either in Ireland or Camden, New Jersey (I have conflicting stories). He was something of a “big deal” in New York restaurant/entertainment circles in back in the day. Several of the entries in the earliest scrapbook are about him or one of his cabarets. He was a restaurateur/night club proprietor for about 40 years.
This is the front and back of his business card for his underground cabaret in New York City. His cabaret on Seventh Avenue was open from about 1919 until his death in 1934. Many of these items are undated, so I can only guess as to when they were created.
When he put on a show, he really put on a show. He was, after all, “The Nations Host from Coast to Coast.” (I’m still looking for any of his establishments on the west coast). Here is a flyer for one of his special events. I believe it’s from 1933, since that’s the most likely year before Billy’s death in which October 30th fell on a Monday (the only other possible year would have been 1922). Plus, Henny Youngman would have only been 16 years old in 1922. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of Pat Goode, Marie Austin, Gerty Dwyer, Bubbles Shelby, Allyn Reese, Mary Titus, or Lillian Wayne.
Apparently, Henny Youngman was a regular entertainer at Billy Gallagher’s. Here is a flyer for another event, clearly in favor of repealing the Volstead Act.
… and seriously – how can you go wrong with acts like “Twelve Appealing Repealers”? He’s also added Billie Roberts and Accordionist Pete Marconi to the act! (And no, I won’t comment on the misuse of apostrophes in this one).
Sometimes the party theme was even more blatantly political:
This one is clearly from 1933. I can see how it might have been difficult to run a cabaret-style club during Prohibition. But somehow (I’m not at liberty to say), Billy made it work. And the people – and celebrities – kept coming.
I think I’m going to enjoy getting to know Billy!