In 1938, Bing Crosby and other stars chartered the Westwood Marching and Chowder Club, a fraternal club affiliated with the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America.
The Westwood Marching and Chowder Club threw “gay 90s” vaudeville parties for its private membership. Actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and vaudeville professionals joined by invitation only, and usually performed.
Crosby hosted the chapter’s first party in April of 1938. A couple of months later, he held a second party in the backyard of his Toluca Lake mansion. He named his second party the “Saturday Night Breakaway Minstrel Show.”
For the party, Crosby hired workers to construct a tent and build a temporary stage on his tennis court to accommodate 150 costumed celebrities. As one might expect, the minstrel show and party offered lots of booze, card games, dancing, and politically incorrect vaudeville acts. Tommy Dorsey’s band, Crosby, and Johnny Mercer provided most of the musical entertainment.
The Westwood Marching and Chowder Club only lasted a few years before disbanding. In fact, it fell victim to its own success. Too many people wanted to join the club. Heightened security also dampened the party spirit.
Below is a rare picture from one of its last parties in 1940. How many celebs do you recognize?
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