Isabella Patricola • Newspaper Highlights (1894 – 1965)

Isabella Patricola • Newspaper Highlights (1894 – 1965)

.

Bain Collection, Library of Congress

 

Isabella Patricola was an immigrant success story. She and her brother Tom (another future vaudeville headliner) came to the United States from Italy with their father, who in Patricola’s words, “conceived the idea of making me self supporting.” Showing an early aptitude for the violin, Patricola was touring the country by the age of eight with a small-time vaudeville troupe. Her education was on a drop-in basis, attending school as a guest pupil in whatever town the family found itself.

Although the violin remained a part of Patricola’s stage act to the end, by the late 1910s she had become better known for her singing, delivering the latest Tin Pan Alley hits in powerhouse style. By the mid-1920s, she reportedly was one of the wealthiest women in vaudeville, drawing a substantial salary while dealing in real estate on the side. Here’s a bit of her story from the newspapers of the period (“Isabella” is the correct spelling, although “Isabelle” appears in some of these clippings):

.

Eight-year-old Patricola plays Great Fall, Montana (October 1894)

.

Patricola in Chicago (December 1911 and October 1912)

.

Patricola returns to Great Falls, Montana (February 1917). By this time, she was being billed as a singer as well as a violinst.

.

Patricola considers changing her name (Philadelphia, November 1921)

.

Despite what the first article claims, Patricola was an enthusiastic cook. (Pittsburgh, December 1921; and Allentown, Pennsylvania, April 1930)

.

Patricola was one of the earliest vaudeville headliners to broadcast commercially. This lengthy interview appeared in conjunction with a Pittsburgh radio and theater appearance in January 1923.

.

Vocalion signed Patricola in mid-1923. Although The Talking Machine World lists these two Vocalions as November 1923 releases, they actually went on sale on October 26.

.

“I’m no college graduate” — Patricola recalls her brief education
(October 1925)

.

Patricola weds out of the limelight. (Washington, DC, June 1927)

.

Patricola’s real estate dealings helped to make her one of the wealthiest women in vaudeville. (February 1929)

.

“A big girl with a big voice” (Atlanta, February 1929)

.

Patricola wins a popularity contest sponsored by entertainment giant Radio-Keith-Orpheum, in which more than four-million radio listeners voted. (Boston, April 1929)

.

Still at it in October 1954 (Kansas City)

.

May 25, 1965

._________________________
.

Patricola made her first commercial recordings in the spring of 1919, for Pathé’s vertical-cut discs, and her last in March 1929, for Edison’s failing record operation. Her violin playing can be heard only on two exceptionally rare 1929 Home-Talkie discs (special records that were synchronized with movies made for home use). We’ve been unable to locate any Home-Talkie releases so far, but here are a few favorites from Patricola’s more readily available output:
.

.

ISABELLA PATRICOLA: I’ve Got My Habits On

Camden, NJ: November 22, 1921
Victor 18838 (mx. B 25777 – 4)
Studio orchestra directed by Josef Pasternack

.

.

ISABELLA PATRICOLA (with Ben Selvin’s Orchestra):
Walk, Jenny, Walk

New York: Released October 1923
Vocalion 14669 (mx. 11867)

.

.

ISABELLA PATRICOLA (with Ben Selvin’s Orchestra):
Somebody’s Wrong

New York: Released January 1924
Vocalion 14701 (mx. 12129)

.