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Jan Peerce (1904 - 1984)

Peerce’s parents came from the Belarussian village of Horodetz and emigrated to the USA in 1903. Born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and nicknamed ‘Pinky’ by his friends, he attended the De Witt Clinton High School and Columbia University and took violin lessons with the encouragement of his mother. In 1930 Peerce married a childhood friend, Alice Kalmanovitz, who became a talent agent and was the sister of the tenor Richard Tucker.

Although Peerce formed a successful dance band (Pinky Pearl and his Society Dance Band) he soon noticed that when he sang he commanded greater attention than when he played. He therefore studied singing with the tenor Giuseppe Boghetti and in 1932 was engaged by the Broadway impresario Samuel Roxy Rothafel to sing on the Radio City Music Hall of the Air broadcasts, followed by an appearance at the opening of Rothafel’s actual Radio City Music Hall the same year.



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