Camaratas Entertain at “Chicago World’s Fair” 1933-34

Tony M. Camarata and his father Antonio both performed at the Chicago Worlds Fair 1933-34. Poster image courtesy of Chicago Historical Society

Poster image courtesy of Chicago Historical Society

Tony M. Camarata and his father Antonio both performed at the Chicago Worlds Fair 1933-34. The exposition was held in Chicago to celebrate the city’s centennial. The first fair. The World’s Columbian Exposition was held in 1893 to commemorate the arrival of Italian explorer Cristoforo Columbo four centuries earlier.

The 1933-34 Fair transcended the Great Depression and provided entertainment to millions of visitors. The fair (over 400 acres) was located along the coast of Lake Michigan, which in its vast size seems like the ocean. With the main theme being Science and Technology, social, industrial and cultural life was depicted in realistic reproductions of ethnic villages from far-off lands. Tony, in full costume, wearing a fez below, performs in the Oriental Village or perhaps, the Moroccan Village.

Tony M. Camarata performing on accordion at the Chicago World's Fair 1933-34

Tony M. Camarata performing on accordion at the Chicago World’s Fair 1933-34.

oriental village 1933

Oriental Village – 1933-34 World’s Fair. Vintage Postcard Image

Promotional fair postcard features Tony M. Camarata posing in front of the Adler Planetarium, a lakeside observatory, founded in 1930 in Chicago where the public can see planets, stars, and galaxies up-close and in person.

PLanetarium founded in 1930

Tony M. Camarata performs at the Century of Progress, Chicago World’s Fair 1933-34. Photo courtesy of Florette Camarata

Tony M. Camarata hanging out in the back row, hardly visible, cranes his neck to be in this photo below. Check out the fella with the cowboy hat sitting on the bar. Notation on back of photo says Will Rogers 1933. Maybe? Or perhaps hands are waiving at Will Rogers.

Tony M. Camarata in back row

Happy-go-lucky crowd the Chicago World’s Fair. 1933.

Antonio on Accordion

Antonio Camarata (back row), one of many performers in the Revue at The Manhattan Gardens. Chicago World’s Fair 1933.

Antonio Camarata on Accordion

Close up of Antonio Camarata, accordionist, in Ernie Young’s Revue. 1933.


“Passing Parade of 1933” Program and Sheet Music. Program courtesy of the author.

Probably, the most popular attraction at the fair was burlesque dancer Sally Rand. She was perceived to be naked while dancing with ostrich feathers covering her body, but was actually wearing a nude bodystocking. She was arrested four times in a single day during the fair for indecent exposure while dancing and while riding a white horse down the streets of Chicago. Imagine that!


Sally Rand, Provacative Fan Dancer


Anthony Camarata (b.1915-1963): Professional Musician – Beginnings

Anthony (Tony) Camarata, the only child of Antonio and Pauline was born April 11, 1915. Don’t get confused with his older cousin by the same name, Anthony Camarata, born April 1, 1911, also featured on this blog. Both grew up in musical households in the same apartment building on 22nd Place in Chicago, one in the upstairs flat, one downstairs. Following the musical path of their fathers, both played the accordion, became professional entertainers, and may have played at some of the same venues. This must have been confusing for the booking agents!

About 3 years old

Tony Camarata on a tricycle ride.  c. 1917 or 1918. Photo courtesy of P. Camarata Phillips.

About 1920 in Chicago

Young Tony with father in front of family car. Photo courtesy of P. Camarata Phillips.

Young Anthony with Accordion

Tony with accordion, in front of his parents. Photo courtesy of P. Camarata Phillips.

Antonio, a Sicilian catholic and Pauline were not particularly religious, I suspect, but they did have an association with Santa Maria Incoronata in Chicago. This is the same Catholic church where his brother Charles and Julia wed in 1910 and had their children baptized. No marriage certificate or wedding photo for Antonio & Pauline was ever found, only a license to marry, dated March 6, 1915, a little over 3 weeks after son, Anthony was born! Pauline, even though in a relationship with Antonio, was considered an unwed mother in those days and if the marriage was ever solemnized at the church, it would not have been performed in public with baby in tow, not in 1915! It would have been in a private room away from disapproving eyes or maybe they went to City Hall, but still, no document has been found to date. Baby Anthony was baptized at Santa Maria Incoronata as Anthoninum Cammerata (Latin) on June 19th,1915 with Uncle Charles and Aunt Julia as patrini, godparents.

Anthony Camarata Holy Communion

Anthony Camarata – Holy Communion 1922

Anthony's Cross

Anthony’s Cross, possibly from his Communion in 1922, a lifelong keepsake.

Tony tucked away his crucifix and picked up his accordion to play his first professional nightclub gig at Club Alabam in Chicago. Save the prayers for later, much later. No curfew for this 14 year old! The main theme of this decade was the Roaring 20s. The country was full of good times and rebellion with things like jazz, bootlegging (response to Prohibition), flappers, high spirits, and a strong economy, until 1929 when the stock market crashed.

“Club Alabam at 747 Rush Street had been a night club with roots back in the 1920s. Through Prohibition, World War II, into the mid-1960s, it had been a comfortable place to eat and drink for Chicagoans and visiting entertainers such as Jimmy Durante, Tony Curtis, William Bendix and Carol Channing. It was also a pleasantly shady place with a history of police raids for gambling and after-hours drinking.” (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune)

747 Rush Street @ Chicago Street in Chicago, IL

Club Alabam (formerly at 747 Rush St., Chicago) in the wee hours. Photo courtesy of

Personalized Accordion "Anthony"

Tony Camarata Press Photo c. 1928. Photo by Theatrical Chicago. Photo courtesy of author, Florette Camarata.

Camarata Four Vaudeville with Henry Pietro (from Jim)post.

The Camarata Four: Young Tony Camarata, Pauline, Henry Pietro, Antonio Camarata. Photo courtesy of Paul Massoth estate.

Antonio Cammarata Family Vaudville 1928

L to R: Tony Camarata, Unknown banjo player, Unknown guitaris, Antonio Camarata in 1928. Photo courtesy of Paul Massoth estate

Young Tony with father Antonio

Anthony with father Antonio Camarata. c. 1928. Photo courtesy of P. Camarata Phillips

Camarata Four Theatrical Photo crop (from Jim)post

Camarata Four: Tony Camarata, Antonio Camarata, Pauline Camarata, Henry Pietro. Photo courtesy of Massoth estate>

Antonio & Tony White Suit

Tony and his Accordion

Teenage Tony with friends, joined by some fans in Chicago.

Camarata Four publicity postcard (1930-33)

Camarata Four publicity postcard (1930-33). Photo courtesy of Florette Camarata.

Tony’s musical career continues to develop throughout Prohibition, the Depression and beyond…

Anthony Camarata (b.1911-1964): Professional Musician

The Camarata family tells a charming story about Anthony (b.1911-1964) playing the accordion at the tender age of 4 and loving it so much he would actually take his instrument to bed with him. At 15, following the footsteps of his father Charles, he began his professional musical career. He also partnered with his father in the family business as accordion instructors while also continuing to perform. Their accordions, were fatto a mano, handmade in Italy, most likely in Castelfidardo, once known as the international capital of accordion builders, personalized with the family name, Cammarata.

Cammarata FatherandSon Biz Card (2)

Cammarata Family Business Card – Father & Son

Parallel to his younger cousin Anthony (Tony) (b.1915-1963) also a musician, he played at popular nightclubs, major hotels, dinner dance clubs and live radio broadcasts in Chicago and beyond. He and his family, as well as his siblings (Joseph, Frank, Kathryn), eventually relocated to sunny Santa Cruz, California where he continued to perform.

Theatrical Chicago photo below, “The Sailor Boys” features Anthony on accordion.


Theatrical Chicago photo, “The Sailor Boys” features Anthony on accordion.

Like many professional musicians, he was a union member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians from 1931-1964 that offered their members many benefits. He had hundreds of jobs around the country including engagements at the infamous Colosimos, The Strand Show Lounge, Tutzs Cocktail Bar, Knight Caravan, Hub Lounge, Charley’s Cocktail Lounge, The Fox Badger Theatre, Orlando 71 Club, Towne Club, Zanzes Rocky Falls, Terrace Club and Club Aloha to name a few. He played with the Carl Schreiber band, the Cal Cara Combo and other groups and orchestras.

One of his longest and more successful gigs (1937-1945) was playing with the Tripoli Trio at the swanky 606 Club in Chicago. Anthony played accordion with Giordano Pellonari (b.1892-1962) on guitar and vocals and Luis Orlando, bass.

606 from this week in chi0001

“This Week in Chicago” news magazine published May 9, 1942

Tripoli Trio 606 Club Anthony Camarata Cousin0001

Tripoli Trio – Giordano Pellonari, Anthony Camarata, Luis Orlando at the 606 Club. Photo courtesy of J. Camarata Jerde

Atthe606'44026.from Jerdejpg

Luis Orlando, Giordano (George) Pellonari and Anthony Camarata entertain customers at the 606 Club. Photo courtesy of J. Camarata Jerde.

colisomos matchbook online images

1946 Gig in Chicago. Vintage Matchbook Cover

606 club match

1937-1945 Long-term Gig in Chicago. Vintage Matchbook Cover

Tripoli Trio with Giordano Pellonari, Luis Orlando, Anthony Camarata with vocal by Yvonne Barry, Gio's daughter. Photo courtesy of Allan Barry.

Tripoli Trio with Giordano Pellonari, Luis Orlando, Anthony Camarata with vocals by Yvonne Barry, Gio’s daughter. Photo courtesy of Allan Barry.

Orlando 71 club 2000001

1945 Gig in Chicago. Ad courtesy of Southtown Economist.

club Aloha ebay crop

1948 Gig in Santa Cruz, CA. Vintage Matchbook Cover

1940sMatchbookTutzsCocktail-Bar online

1946 Gig in Milwaukee, WI. Vintage Matchbook Cover

Live Radio Broadcast – Anthony on accordion – Charles on guitar, right. Photo courtesy of J. Camarata Jerde

strand hotel lobby

1946 Gig in the Strand Show Lounge at the Strand Hotel in Chicago.

Cal Car Combo - ealry 1960s

Call Cara Combo – Cal Calcara, rear center; Tony Camarata (left) accordion, Dick Miner, trumpet, Wes Nichols, drums. Photo courtesy of

Tripoli Trio

L. to R. Giordano Pellonari, Luis Orlando, Anthony Camarata #1
Chicago’s Nite Life Magazine. April 4, 1947. Courtesy of Allan Barry

The Tripoli Trio will spice the opening on Tuesday at the new Terrace Club, luxurious west side show lounge in Chicago. (cover page of Chicago’s Nite Life, published April 4, 1947).

Charles Cammarata – Accordion Teacher Extraordinaire

Buiness Card Photo

Charles Cammarata Photo from Business Card. Courtesy of J. Cammarata

It’s unknown exactly when Charles began his accordion school, or where lessons were given, however, his business card notes his home address in Chicago. He and his family lived on 54th Place, just a few blocks from the Italo-American Accordion Company, located at 51st and Kedzie at the time. After reading an article published about the company in 2009, the author wrote to Anne Romagnoli, business owner, now age 87 who responded back to say she remembered a Cammarata giving lessons on the Southwest side of Chicago. Charles sold accordions as part of a lesson package and may have used Italo-American as his accordion dealer. His son, Anthony also taught accordion.



Cammarata Father & Son Biz Card

Cammarata Business Card – Father & Son.

Belonged to Charles Cammarata

Leo Piersanti Accordion Method Book Courtesy of J. Cammarata

This was a time that accordions were all the rage and schools were popping up in major cities. Leo Piersanati, started one of the first accordion schools in Chicago in the 1920’s and his book, Piersanti Piano and Chromatic Accordion Method was most likely the one Charles used. The family has his original book, published in both English and Italian, now a bit tattered, but a nice keepsake.





Exercise for Right Hand

Piersanti Accordion Lesson Book Page

1936 class photos, with Charles (center) surrounded by his beloved students of all ages that also include 2 of his children, Catalda (Kathryn) and Joseph Cammarata.

Cammarata Accordion School Class Photo 1936. Photo courtesy of C. Cammarata Garcea

Cammarata Accordion School Class Photo 1936. Photo courtesy of C. Cammarata Garcea

Aka Cataldo Cammarata

Charles Cammarata Accordion School. C. 1936. Photo courtesy of J. Cammarata.

Young Joseph Cammarata proudly holding his instrument.

Joseph Cammarata as student

Joseph Cammarata, son of Charles. Photo courtesy of C. Cammarata Garcea

Looks like those lessons paid off. Joseph Cammarata many years later.

Joseph Cammarata Accordion from Charlotte

Joseph Camarata, band member of “Rhythm Hits”. Photo courtesy of C. Cammarata Garcea

Joseph Cammarata at the beach, 1948. Photo courtesy of Cammarata Garcea family.

On Stage: Charles Cammarata

Brothers Cataldo and Antonio, aka Charles and Tony arrived in Chicago in 1910 and worked for a short time at Hart Schaffner & Marx in Chicago until they became entertainers in vaudeville. Originally, they lived on W. 25th Place in the same house (separate flats). Eventually the family grew and Charles bought a separate home on W. 54th in the Gage Park neighborhood sometime between 1927 and 1930.

Or, was it a clash of two very different personalities that motivated this move? Charles Cammarata was a well-respected, proper family man but with a hedonistic brother known as a womanizer, gambler, drinker – a man who lacked a moral compass, some say. The irony is that they both chose to play the same instrument; accordion, the name derived from Italian, accordare, meaning to agree, to be in synch, to harmonize, to match, to reconcile, to tune up. Agreement was mostly likely on stage only, during gigs, then each went about their separate lives, in opposite direction once the music stopped. Each had a son that would carry on the family tradition, as professional entertainers, both named Anthony, born four years apart, beginning their musical careers as teenagers and able to find success during a time that accordions were still in vogue.

Cammarata Trio

Cammarata Trio: L. to R. Anthony Cammarata, Unknown, Charles Cammarata. Photo courtesy of P. Cammarata Lee.

Aka Cataldo Cammarata

Trio featuring Charles & Anthony (son of Charles) Cammarata on Accordion. Female unknown. Photo courtesy of P. Cammarata Lee

aka Cataldo Cammarata

Charles Cammarata Trio. L to R. Charles, Unk, Unk. Photo courtesy of P. Cammarata Lee.

aka Cataldo Cammarata

Charles Cammarata Quartet – L to R. Anthony (son of Charles), Unknown females, Charles Cammarata on Banjo, accordion at rest. Photo courtesy of P. Cammarata Lee.

Aka Cataldo Cammarata

Charles Cammarata. Photo courtesy of P. Cammarata Lee

Cataldo (Charles) Cammarata

Charles Cammarata. Photo courtesy of P. Cammarata Lee

Cammarata Trio

Cammarata Trio. L. to R. Antonio, Pauline, Charles. Photo Courtesy of P. Cammarata Lee.

Cataldo Cammarata

Charles Cammarata. Photo courtesy of C. Cammarata Garcea