Orange County Register: Can You Solve These 5 Mysteries About Pepito and Joanne Perez (2010)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Melani Carty is looking for the answer to these Nancy Drew-inspired research questions about Pepito and Joanne Perez, former vaudevillians who ran a dance studio …

1.  The Secret of the Missing Clown Car

In 1927, Pepito purchased a one-of-a-kind 1925 Monroe Pezel roadster.  The Monroe Body Works in Michigan was the original automaker; Oliver Pezel was the Los Angeles-area auto dealer who miniaturized the body and frame to Pepito’s specifications.  (Note: my further research has turned up evidence that Pepito’s car was a Jack Landon custom midget auto). Pepito and Joanne brought this “clown car” with them everywhere they traveled in the United States and Australia, as a rolling advertisement for their vaudeville act.  In 1928, the California license plate number was 1-681-904.  The whereabouts of this unique theatrical automobile is a mystery.

2.  The Message in the Crumbling Scrapbook

After Joanne’s death in 2004, her estate was liquidated, including Pepito’s bulging scrapbook containing all the newspaper clippings from their lifetime in show business.  Pepito’s scrapbook is the Rosetta Stone that is needed to decode and organize their photo archive into proper chronological order, and to fill in the blanks in their life story.  The current owner of this priceless scrapbook is still being sought.

3.  The Clue in the Lost Movie Credits

Pepito first met Lucille Ball when they were both actors at RKO studios in the 1930s.  In a 2003 interview, Joanne stated that Pepito appeared in three films with Lucille Ball.  Only one of the three pictures is listed on the Internet Movie Database:  “Annabel Takes a Tour,” 1938.  What were the names of the other two motion pictures?  The answer to this impossible trivia question is not on the Internet, and may only be known by someone who was a personal friend of Pepito or Joanne.

4.  The Mystery of the 99 Dance Steps

In “I Love Lucy” season 6, episode 163, Little Ricky is cast in the lead in his school play, “The Enchanted Forest.”  Keith Thibodeaux portrayed Little Ricky.  Candy Rogers Schoenberger, who played Suzy Brown, and all the other children in this episode were students from the Pepito & Joanne Academy of Dance in Santa Ana.  What were the names of these uncredited children who played the little gnomes, skunk, bunnies, and three wise owls? See the episode on YouTube — part 1 here and part 2 here.

5.  The Case of the Disappearing Dance Instructors

Over the years, Joanne hired several supplemental dance instructors to teach tap, jazz, hula, and Polynesian dancing at her ballet school, which was located in her Victorian home at 15th and Ross Streets in Santa Ana.  The names of these teachers have been lost to time.  What were their names, and where are they today?

If you have any clues that can lead to solving any of these five mysteries, please email me using the link at the bottom of the page.

Source: First published by the Orange County (California) Register at


Saturday, February 12, 2011 – 04:34 AM

Heather Emmons (now Heather Chambers)

I danced at Joanne’s school from the 70’s – ’87. I am so excited to find out all this info about my beloved dance teacher. How wonderful. Thank you. Please contact me. Much appreciated.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 – 09:38 AM

Roger Schutt

Hoping your research, and projects, and family, are all doing well. I’m always hoping to stumble across something useful for the Carty Chronicles team, but it’s pretty hard to find a fresh lead when working beside a cold case champion such as the great  Chief Inspector Melani Carty Clouseau!!!  But…..I’m not one to be out done. One day……I’ll find the missing piece of the puzzle that breaks the Pepito/Joanne egg investigation wide open!!!!  The only problem is….I don’t know if you can wait 50 years for me to find it!  Have a great day and keep at it. We are your greatest fans!!!!!!!!!

2 thoughts on “Orange County Register: Can You Solve These 5 Mysteries About Pepito and Joanne Perez (2010)

  1. Portia Seanoa taught hula + polynesian dance. Her husband was one of the original Tahitian dancers at Disneyland when there used to be live performances (next to the tiki room) while folks ate at the Hawaiian restaurant. I found an article online about Portia and her family, that they moved to Florida.

    Chanda Parrett taught jazz and tap. I remember she went to Chapman University and that’s how I found her!


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