U.S.O Camp Show #99
Unless otherwise indicated images are from Eugene T. Wozniak collection; none of which were annotated. We did the best we can to identify places, people and circumstances, however, if you can provide more accurate information PLEASE email us!
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These four veteran troupers, all past their 40th birthdays, had completed six weeks of basic training (required for those going into a combat zone) then shipped from Shangri-La on Aug. 25, 1943 and by July 1944 when they reached Yangkai they had given better than 625 performances in North Africa, Italy, the Persian Gulf Command and India-Burma. The group started with five men. The fifth, Tano Cutelli, became ill while entertaining troops in a combat area of North Africa. He insisted on continuing to perform inspite of a high fever, until the others realized he was near death and evacuated to a hospital outside the zone. Unfortunarely, Tano died there. As he wished, his four partners continued on.
Group leader was Jack Cavanaugh, a 56-year old cowboy specializing in cowboy comedy, rope spinning tricks and just plain fun. Basil Fomeen is 44-year old Russian immigrant, former society band leader in NYC, accordionist, and composer, best known as the leader of the Basil Fomeen Orchestra. Joe Tershay, a Syrian immigrant and Chicago-based immigrant magician, and Gene Emerald, emcee and guitarist.
Following their CBI tour, in December 1944 USO Camp Shows forced the four committed entertainers to take a 30-day break, although all of them complained, before allowing them to proceed to the Philippines to continue entertaining GIs.
In addtion to his duties as emcee and guitarist, Gene Emerald performed comedic skits.
Smiles on the faces of audience members suggest they were greatly enjoying the rope-twirling talents of Jack Cavanaugh.
Each time the men demonstrated their enjoyment, Jack would add difficulty to his act until he ran out of easily available appendages and pockets to twirl the ropes.
Although we only have one photo, Joe Tershay enthralled the audience as he performed several magical illusions.
Joe was then followed by Jack Cavannaugh's version of a musical act. Ben Fomeen can be seen accomanying him just as he did for every acti which would benefit from it.
Gene Emerald, Jack Cavanaugh, Basil Fomeen and Joe Tershay bask in the thunderous applause following one of their two shows in The LAST RESORT at Yangkai, China.
USO Camp Shows List