2012.06.06 Alice Butler: Remembering Jack Bailey

Written by David Green. Posted in Letters

My daughter, Lorraine Pillow, taught school in Morenci. She recently retired and when her husband, a Methodist minister, was transferred they moved to Elkton, Mich., a small town in the thumb area. She still receives the State Line Observer because of her continued interest in the people of Morenci.

The May 2 issue of the Observer had a story in “By the Way” on the old TV program, Queen for a Day. Knowing this article would be of interest to me, she saved the copy for me and she was right, I was interested.

Jack Bailey grew up in a small town—Hampton, Iowa—where my father was the Superintendent of Schools. I think Jack was raised an only child by a single mother, but I cannot be sure of that. He was in high school when I was in grade school. He had high ambitions which did not include a high school education, much to his mother’s dismay. I know that many a time his mother came to Dad begging him to see that Jack stayed in school until graduation. Sometimes she would be in tears over what to do with him. I was too young to know details. 

As a high school student, Jack produced a musical at the local theater, which had to close down for his production, called the Follies of 193_. I don’t remember the year, it seems like 1932 or 1936, but the musical was a huge success. I think I was the youngest member of the dance team and I still remember the song we sang and the dance we did. This production was probably the start of his career and kept Jack in school until graduation.

On to Hollywood. We sort of kept track of his progress. I know he had the fame he desired. Mother and Dad went to one of his shows—he asked Mother if she wanted to be the Queen that particular night, but she declined. I don’t know if the program was rigged or not, but obviously she could have been substituted had she wanted the honor.

I know he liked his liquor and I think that was what took his life, but this part is gossip for I only heard it, not as fact. I was away from home by that time.

I just thought you might like to know this about Jack Bailey whom you featured in a story. Thank you for bringing forth memories for me.

– Alice (Rankin) Butler

St. Clair, Mich.

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