The Duncan Sisters in Topsy & Eva
Souvenir Program from the Music Box Theatre
Los Angeles: Amusement Program Publishers, 1942

Duncan Sisters in Topsy & Eva


Story of "Topsy and Eva"

  "Topsy and Eva," the famous Duncan sisters' theatrical success, is a musical production in three acts, and was suggested by Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, which was written in 1852. Millions read the book which was instrumental in creating a great deal of anti-slavery sentiment.

  The well-known story of "Topsy and Eva" is told in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and the Duncan sisters' stage version adheres to the characters and essential plot of the novel with situations adapted to the needs of a musical producation.

  Good, pious Uncle Tom belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Shelby and is well cared for until the fortunes of the Shelby's are reversed. Uncle Tom is to be sold south to the slave traders. George Shelby, the son, promises to buy Tom back when the opportunity comes and Tom refuses to escape to the north. Uncle Tom befriends Little Eva, daughter of Augustine St. Clare, and finds a comfortable home in New Orleans. When St. Clare is killed, however, Uncle Tom falls into the hands of a villain, Simon Legree, who causes much sorrow to the faithful negro. "Topsy," "ebony limb of mischief," keeps the laughter rolling with her antics. Little Eva is beloved of all and causes great sadness on her death. George Shelby finds romance, however, with Mariette. He has made a vain effort to rescue tragic Uncle Tom.

  Act one is the outside of Uncle Tom's cabin on the Shelby in Kentucky during an afternoon in the 50's. Act two shows the courtyard of the St. Clare home in New Orleans on an April evening six months later. Act three is back at the Shelby home in Kentucky with the love and wedding bells in the offing.

  The Duncan sisters produced "Topsy and Eva" first in San Francisco where it proved a big success. Later, it went to Los Angeles, Chicago and New York for a three-and-a-half year run. The Duncans then took the production to London where it resulted in a theatrical success. Later it toured the United States. It has always met with a warm reception from theatergoers, and has been revived a number of times, the last version at the Apollo theater in Chicago in 1935.

  The present production stars the famous sisters, Vivian and Rosetta, who are today greater entertainers than ever and just as enthusiastic about the 1942 version of "Topsy" as the original production. The new production has many new songs and specialties added but the production is essentially the same as the original show.

  The book of "Topsy and Eva" is by Catherine Chisholm Cushing, while the musical score is by the Duncan sisters. The book is staged by Rosetta Duncan and Roger Gray while the musical arrangements are by Vivian Duncan. The Orchestra is under the direction of the distinguished Franz Steininger, composer-conductor, who is the godson of Franz Lehar, famous composer.




The World Famous



America's Favourite Musical Comedy

"Topsy & Eva"

Book by Catherine Chisholm Cushing

(Suggested by Uncle Tom's Cabin)

(By Harriet Beecher Stowe)

Book staged by Rosetta Duncan & Roger Gray

Musical arrangements by Vivian Duncan

Dance Ensembles Staged by Bud Muray

Orchestra Under Direction of



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  Franz Lehar, world famous composer of "The Merry Widow" and other operettas, named Franz Steininger his godson and taught him his early musical lessons at his knee.

  Steininger came west to conduct the orchestra for the famed production of "Topsy and Eva," starring Vivian and Rosetta Duncan.

  The musician, born in Vienna, is in his early thirties and has already made a name for himself as composer. At the age of 19, he conducted an orchestra at the Stadt theater in Vienna, subsequently performing likewise in London. He is composer of the American hit song, "Marching Along Together" and the musical production, "Fun for the Money."

  His father produced Lehar productions in Vienna. Lehar took young Franz as his protege and gave him song royalties for birthday gifts, but they can't be collected today on account of war conditions.

  The distinguished conductor-composer is married to Della Lind, Viennese stage and screen actress.

  When Sherry Cameron, featured dancer in the musical production of "Topsy and Eva" sits at home and puts on a record, she improvises new dance steps which later flower to featured specialties on the stage.

  Sherry, comely and blond, will do her military tap and bird dance toe number in the big musical. Her patriotic dance will be outstanding.

  Young Miss Cameron has danced at big hotels and night clubs and was featured at Grace Hayes Lodge. She played in the musical "Fun for the Money," and just returned from an engagement at the Hotel Las Vegas. She was born in California and attended Los Angeles High school and the Ernest Belcher school of dancing. She likes to do comedy routines and has an innate sense of humor.

  She is a hard worker and keeps in trim by swimming and bowling. Unmarried, Sherry says there will be no marriage for the duration—but she didn't qualify which duration!


  Roger Gray, veteran of Broadway shows and Hollywood films, enacts the role of "Simon Legree" in the Duncan sisters' production of "Topsy and Eva."

  Gray played in six musical comedies on Broadway, each of which ran more than a year. He was principal comedian for the St. Louis Municipal Opera for three years and was in the original production of "Hit the Deck," taking the role of Matt Smith, playing it in both New York and Boston. Some of his outstanding film work was done in "Captain Courageous," "Fury," and "History is Made at Night." He has just finished a good part at Columbia.

  Gray, interestingly enough, holds the record for writing and producing the greatest number of skits for the famous Lambs Club in New York, renowned actors organization. He has directed and acted in stock throughout the United States.

  Rosa Ponselle, famed diva, met Inez Gorman at a social party and heard her sing. She immediately advised her to continue with her singing and encouraged her to try for the Metropolitan opera.

  "I did and won a role in De Meistisingers with Fred Jagel," revealed young Miss Gorman, backstage at the Music Box theater where she is rehearsing for a leading singing role of "Marietta," in the Duncan sisters' production of "Topsy and Eva."

  The blue-eyed brunette, however, studied four long years at the well-known Curtis Institute of Music at Philadelphia and has studied singing since a child with her father, Professor Frank Gorman, music instructor in Pittsburgh schools.

  She sang with the St. Louis Municipal Opera company in "Rio Rita," and was brought west under contract by Darryl Zanuck.

  Miss Gorman sings the memorable "Rememb'ring," and several new songs in "Topsy," including "Jerk Mazurk," and "Locked in the Cradle of My Heart," together with "Dixie" and a medley of southern songs.


George Shafer Presents


Book by Catherine Chisholm Cushing (Suggested by "Uncle Tom's Cabin")
Musical Score by The Duncan Sisters
Book Staged by Rosetta Duncan and Roger Gray
Musical Arrangements by Vivian Duncan
Dances and Ensembles staged by Bud Murray
Orchestra under the direction of Franz Steininger

CAST OF CHARACTERS (In order of their appearance)

Chloe . . . . . . . . . . Gertrude Walker
Uncle Tom . . . . . . . . Virgil Johansen
Mariette's Friends —
Fay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fay Lacey
Jean . . . . . . . . . . . . Jean Forward
Lola . . . . . . . . . . . . Lola Winston
Terry . . . . . . . . . . . Terry Loughney
Simon Legree . . . . . . . . . Roger Gray
Mrs. Shelby . . . . . . . . . Anne O'Neal
George Shelby (her son) . . Michael Butler
Mariette . . . . . . . . . . . Inez Gorman
Geegee . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cas Twid
Eliza . . . . . . . . . . . Patricia Knox
Erasmus Marks . . . . . . Charles Williams
Augustine St. Clare . . . . . Harold Hodge
Ophelia . . . . . . . . . Myrtle Ferguson
Eva . . . . . . . . . . . . VIVIAN DUNCAN
Topsy . . . . . . . . . . . ROSETTA DUNCAN

The Guardsmen Quartette

Mose . . . . . . . . . . . . Henry Iblings
Eph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hubert Head
Josh . . . . . . . . . . . . Earl Hunsaker
Lem . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dudley Kuzell
Premiere Danseuse . . . . . Sherry Cameron

Southern Belles

Kay Pepple - Heidi Nielsen - Ann Andre - Madge Journeay - Cele Kirk - Lola Winston - Terry Loughney

Jean Forward - Fay Lacey - Kitty Mills


Joann Dale - Joyce Horne - Teddy David - Shelia Harrington - The Brown Twins, Karol and Katherine

The Romer Twins, Jeanne and Lynn


Outside Uncle Tom's Cabin on the Shelby Plantation in Kentucky.
(An October afternoon in the '50's)


Courtyard of the St. Clare home in New Orleans. An April evening.
(Six months later)


The Shelby home in Kentucky.
(A few days later)


Musical Director . . . . . . . Franz Steininger



1. Opening—Negro Melodies . . Tom, Chloe, Guardsmen, Brown Twins, Slaves and Picaninnies
a. "Little Daniel Play on Your Harp" . . . . . The Guardsmen
b. "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel" . . . . . . The Guardsmen
c. "Golden Slippers" . . . . . . . . . . . . . Romer Twins
2. "Love is a Merry-Go-Round" . . . . . George and Mariette
3. Dance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Geegee and Eliza
4. "Um Um Da Da" . . . . Topsy and Eva, with Picaninnies and White Girls
5. "Moon Am Shinin'" . . . . . . . . . . . Tom and Guardsmen
6. "Rememb'ring" . . . . . Mariette, George and Mrs. Shelby
7. Finale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Company


8. "Jerk Mazurk" . . . Topsy and Eva, Mariette, St. Clare, Marks, Guardsmen and White Girls
9. "Do Re Mi" . . . . . . . . . . . . Topsy, Eva, and Ophelia
10. Number with Marks (girls) . . . . . Marks and White Girls
11. "Locked in the Cradle of My Heart" . . George and Mariette
12. "Heaven," "Sing Me to Sleep With a Love Song" . Topsy, Eva and Tom
13. Bird Dance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Premiere Danseuse
14. "Rememb'ring" Reprise . . . . . . . . . . . . Topsy and Eva


15. "The Land of the Free" . . Premiere Danseuse & Company, St. Clare, Guardsmen, Mariette
16. Reprise—"Locked in the Cradle of My Heart" . . George and Mariette
17. Reprise—"Moon Am Shinin'" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tom
18. Dance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eliza and Geegee
19. Tschaikowsky Concerto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eva
20. Termite Love Song (written by Hal Raynor) . . Topsy and Eva
21. "When It's Sweet Onion Time in Bermuda" . . . Topsy and Eva
(Written by Sam Coslow and the Duncan Sisters)
22. Reprise—"Love is a Merry Go Round" . . St. Clare, Mrs. Shelby, Mariette, George, Guardsmen, White Girls and Pickaninnies
23. "I Never Had a Mammy" . . . . . . . . . . . . Topsy and Eva
24. Finale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Company


Play lease by Harry Clay Blaney, Hollywood and New York
Scenery for this production designed and executed by
R. L. Grosh and Sons Scenic Studio
Costumes by Don Avien, United Costumers and Western Costume Co.
Make up by Max Factor
Flowers by Kaufman Bros.


Paul M. Trebitsch, General Manager

Press Representative . . . . . . . Roger Rogers
Assistant Representative . . . . Stanlay Briggs
Assistant Representative . . . . . Yvonne Davis
Treasurer . . . . . . . . . . . . Dan Bechtold
Assistant Treasurer . . . . . . Webster Hopkins
General Stage Manager . . . . . . Leslie Thomas
Assistant to Gen. Manager . . Janet Elise Clark
Master Carpenter . . . . . . . . Frank Coughlin
Master Electrician . . . . . . . . . W. J. Wood
Master of Properties . . . . . . Frank Barnette
Wardrobe Mistress . . . . . . . . . Dolly Case


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  Charlie Williams, of owlish bespectacled gaze, whose comedy and character roles on the screen have firmly identified him with film fans, plays the role of Marks the lawyer in the Duncan sisters production of "Topsy and Eva."

  Williams left school going into a minstrel show and graduated to musical comedies, vaudeville and legitimate productions. He spent ten years in New York stage roles, most musical comedies, following Bert Wheeler, Eddie Cantor and Ed Wynn in similar production roles. He came to Hollywood during the depression after writing about 100 vaudeville acts when he couldn't find engagements. Winnie Sheehan brought him west and he stayed at Fox for two years. Since that time he has free-lanced, garnering about 200 film parts. He writes two-reelers and sold 50 to Educational films.

  He likes Hollywood, but he loves the stage, his first calling, too, and is now reaping the reward of persistency and enthusiasm in his roles. Williams is a direct descendant of Roger Williams who settled Rhode Island. He's married to Virginia Evans, and has a son 12.

  There's plenty of excitement in a motion picture studio, but Patricia Knox thinks there's no thrill like the call for "curtain" in the legitimate theater.

  Pat, who has played in many films and was under contract to both Fox and M-G-M, is a true daughter of Hollywood, being born here. She naturally gravitated to the films, but has supplemented her film career with stage parts to good effect.

  She enacts the role of Liza in the Duncan sisters' production of "Topsy and Eva."

  The pretty actress attended Hollywood High school and got her first stage role in a Grauman Chinese Theater prologue. She had a featured role with Joan Blondell in "Lady for a Night" and has played western leads with George Houston in "Lone Rider." She played on the stage with King Kennedy in "Yesterday's Laughter," and just finished directing a theatrical production in Portland, Oregon.


  "Uncle Tom" in "Topsy and Eva," the Duncan sisters' production, is in real life Virgil Johansen, who started his singing career in a Chicago church choir.

  Johansen, who comes from a musical family, was born in Chicago, of Danish parents, attended Chicago Musical College and then taught music at Carthage, Ill., college.

  He was soloist with the Winetka Congregational church when the Duncan sisters opened "Topsy and Eva" in the Windy City. He was so impressed with their performance that he sent a note backstage stating he would like an interview. The interview resulted in an engagement with the famed sisters. He played with them in New York and on tour, twice locally. He again joined the sisters in Chicago in 1935 when they opened at the Apollo theater. In between he has played many stage engagements and film roles. When the "Dunks" announced their new opening they were eager to have him again for his Uncle Tom role. He accepted readily, for he counts the sisters as not only great friends but benefactors who introduced him to the theater.

  While teaching eager schoolroom youths in Oklahoma, Myrtle Ferguson, the prim Ophelia in the Duncan sisters' production of "Topsy and Eva," was dreaming of the glamour behind the footlights.

  Finally she got tired and quit. Fate took her to St. Louis where she got a job in stock and played many roles. Her comical stage work attracted attention, and she finally went into vaudeville where she proved a success.

  Came San Francisco—and a meeting up with the irrepressible Duncan sisters who immediately saw Myrtle as an ideal character for "Topsy and Eva."

  She played the role with them until illness forced her retirement from the stage. While lying sick, she became interested in nursing and decided to take up the profession, which she did.

  Acting, however, was her chief urge, and she went on radio where she had her own program for three years.

  When the Duncans started casting for their 1942 version of "Topsy and Eva," they immediately paged Myrtle Ferguson. They're glad to obtain her and she's mighty glad to be back with them—behind the footlights!

  Hal Hodge has become equally well known on the radio and on the stage.

  The actor was paged by the Duncan sisters to play the role of Augustine St. Clare, little Eva's father, in the same role he played with them on a previous engagement of "Topsy and Eva."

  Hal recently has become popular as the Question Man on the "Hollywood Boulevard Quiz," air program. He is well known on radio here in Los Angeles and was Master of Ceremonies on the popular "Mid-morning Matinee" and "Talent Parade" programs.

  Hal played in stock on the stage at the old Savoy Theater in San Diego and was a member of the San Diego Opera society and soloist at the First Unitarian Church there. He sang regularly over radio station KFSD and was Director of Special Activities at the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. He has had leading roles in the stage productions of "Criminal Code," "Master Thief," "Oh Susanna," "The Dove," "Buddies" and the "Mission Play."

  Anne O'Neal, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, played the part of Mrs. Shelby in the original cast of "Topsy and Eva," when Vivian and Rosetta Duncan opened the famous musical in San Francisco.

  Her southern accent and manners were a help in getting her the part. She met the Duncan sisters for the first time in an agent's office. It was, incidentally, her first stage role, but she had studied music at college in Chicago previously.

  She always had wanted to be an actress, but her relatives frowned upon a stage career—that is, until "Topsy and Eva," an interntional success, returned to play in her native state, when her 80-year-old grandmother even turned out to welcome her.

  Miss O'Neal toured with the Duncans in the famed production and later went into dramatic stock in New York and throughout the east. She has appeared on the stage in the "Desert Song," "No No Nannette," "Rain," and with Will Rogers in "Ah Wilderness." In Hollywood she has played in numerous films and has also done radio work.


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  Michael Butler, a young tenor who plays a leading male role in the famed Duncan sisters' production of "Topsy and Eva," might be a hero dear to the heart of "strive-and-succeed" Horatio Alger.

  Young Butler attended the University of Washington at St. Louis, where he became interested in Little Theater work. He did radio work on the side but never got beyond doing a little professional acting. He came west to Los Angeles and obtained a job as bank collector for the Bank of America, yearning always for stage work. One night he was invited to sing over the air at the birthday party of the well-known banker, president at his company, A. P. Gianninni. A movie scout heard his voice and recommended him to be signed at M-G-M studios where he has just finished a two-year contract and made a nice start for himself in pictures. He intends to continue in film work, but got an opportunity to play George Shelby in "Topsy and Eva" and now is fulfilling his desire to appear behind the footlights. He is studying voice diligently and hopes someday to fulfill another ambition and sing at the famed Metropolitan Opera House in New York—and probably will.

  Gertrude Walker does clever impersonations of Mrs. Roosevelt, Tallulah Bankhead, Katherine Hepburn, Garbo and other celebrities—and was signed by the Duncan sisters for the musical "Topsy and Eva" after they saw her work at the Club Gala in Hollywood.

  Dark hair, dark eyed, Miss Walker is talented, intelligent and interesting. She is doing the colored mammy, Chloe, in "Topsy and Eva," proving her innate versatility.

  Gertrude hails from Ohio and is a graduate of Ohio State University where she studied drama and journalism. She went to New York, worked hard, and had her ups and downs, but finally got roles in the Shubert Production, "Too Many Girls," and went on the road in "Blossom Time." She played twenty weeks in "Clean Beds," and came to Hollywood to play with Sylvia Sidney in the film, "Mary Burns, Fugitive." Between stage roles she is in demand for club engagements as a clever impersonator.

  Miss Walker is also a writer and is working now on a novel. She likes golf, horseback riding, and good conversation.

  Cas Twid always wanted to be an actor and dancer. His mother encouraged him after his father died. Cas went to one year of Junior college at Chico and then joined up with the Beverly Hill Billies. He was introduced as the "boy who is knocking at the back door."

  Cas went on to get some nightclub engagements and then got an audition with J. J. Shubert, which resulted in an engagement at the San Francisco World Fair in 1939. Then Shubert sent Cas to Louisville, Kentucky, to appear in his stock company there. When he finished there, Cas went into Sophie Tucker's show, "Leave It to Me," and toured the United States.

  His path led to Hollywood and he appeared in "Chocolate Soldier" with Nelson Eddy, and "Blues in the Night" at Warners. His dancing attracted so much attention that Ripley in "Believe It or Not," and Hix in "Strange as it Seems," pictured his world-beating stunt of touching the floor with his elbows without bending his knees.


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