Joan Falcy (Joanne!)

Joan Falcy, born Margaret Janet Zettler, later Mrs. Pepito Perez, our Joanne Perez.

Margaret Zettler, who later in life became dance teacher Joanne Perez, began her career as a vaudevillian in 1926 as “Joan Falcy.” Pronounced with a faux French accent, “Zjo-anne Fal-say,” Joanne’s stage name was inspired by her mother’s maiden name, Jeanette Falsey. Spelling variants in newspaper articles of the time included: Joan Falcy, Joann Falcy, Joan Falcey, Joann Falcey, Juanita Falcy.

With her own contract with the Orpheum vaudeville circuit, “Joan Falcy” spent 1926 and 1927 on the road, performing the Orpheum “western circuit.” Pepito was a major attraction on the Orpheum “eastern circuit,” so they did not cross paths until 1928.

Margaret Zettler/Joan Falcy met her future husband, Jose Escobar Perez, “Pepito the Spanish Clown” when they were paired to work together in the pre-show for Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 motion picture “The Circus” at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood. The pairing was so successful that it became permanent. The couple married, touring vaudeville and performing in nightclubs together for 13 years, from 1928 until the outbreak of World War II in 1941.

Related Posts in Our Archives:

Milwaukee Sentinel: Joann Falcy ‘Comes Home’ (1926)

Friday, May 14, 1926 The Milwaukee Sentinel Seventeen years ago Mrs. William Zettler, then living a 247 Twenty-Second Street, prayed that her baby should be perfect. When Joann* arrived her left leg was snugly situated over her left shoulder.  As an infant she slept comfortably in a perfect split position.  Mrs. Zettler worried and called physicians to examine the child. …

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The Eugene Guard: A Twisting Marvel, Miss Joann Falcy (1926)

“Joann Falcy, a Twisting Marvel,” was literally born with one leg behind her head, and a natural ability for contorting her body. As a baby, she slept in the crib with her legs in a split position, causing her mother to worry that she might be deformed, but doctors assured her mother, Mrs. Janet Zettler that the young girl was…

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Pepito the Spanish Clown, posing with a Charlie Chaplin impersonator in Pepito’s miniature Packard, in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, 1928.

Pepito Meets Joanne: Their Matchmaker Was Charlie Chaplin (1928)

January 1, 1928 The 1928 premiere of of Charlie Chaplin’s movie “The Circus” at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Hollywood included a live stage prologue (a stage show before the movie) called the “Ballyhoo.”  Chaplin wanted an actual three ring circus to precede the screening of the movie, to fit the theme of his film, but by necessity it was squeezed down…

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Los Angeles Times: Looks to Be Difficult Feat (1928)

Sunday, March 25, 1928 Try this on your bumper” dares Miss Joan Falcy, contortionist at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, as she demonstrates her talents on the bumper of a smart Oakland six sports roadster from Reeve Gartzman, Inc., Oakland-Pontiac distributors here. Looks to be Difficult Feat, Los Angeles Times – ProQuest Archiver – Mar 25, 1928 Keywords: Pepito the Spanish Clown…

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Los Angeles Daily News: Pretty Dancer to Wed Clown (1928)

Monday, June 25, 1928 It’s No Joke.  Pepito, famous clown, proposed to Joan Falcy (above), beautiful dancer, and she accepted.  The couple, now appearing at Fox theater here, will be married at sea and will tour world on honeymoon.  (Los Angeles Daily News photo). Keywords: Pepito the Spanish Clown Pepito the Clown Jose Escobar Perez Joan Falcy Joann Falcy Joan…

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Pepito the Spanish Clown, posing with a Charlie Chaplin impersonator behind Pepito’s miniature Packard, for the premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 motion picture “The Circus.” The courtyard and front entrance of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood was decorated with a circus theme.

Pocharte: Pepito the Clown & Joanne the Dancer (2012)

August 19, 2012 Sandra “Pocha” Pena blogged on her “Pocharte” WordPress blog about her 2004 personal interviews with Joanne Perez. “Joanne was a dancer who fell in love with a Spanish clown her mother was dating.  This was way back in the 1920’s so the clown, Pepito, called upon his pal Charlie Chaplin to have Joanne perform in his film…

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Pepito, Joanne, and Daniger’s Tea Room at the Santora Building in Santa Ana, California (2012)

July 7, 2012 On Saturday, July 7th, the Santora Arts Building celebrated 84 years with a 1920’s-inspired themed celebration which kicked off a month-long celebration highlighting the history of the building from 1928 to the present.  Showcased was a dazzling array of fine art, music, cars, film, and fashions of a bygone era, as well as a tour of old-time “speakeasys” like Proof, that…

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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…

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Melani Carty, of Lovettsville, Va., was a student at a dance studio in Santa Ana in the home of Joanne and Pepito Perez from 1970 to 1976 beginning at age 9. In 2009, Carty created to document the Perez’s fascinating lives and vaudeville career. The image projected on the wall is from a home movie of Joanne, dated 1929. — Photo by Elizabeth Dodd

Orange County Register: Pepito, Joanne and Nancy Drew (2010)

Monday, October 18, 2010 Ex-Student Unlocks Mystery of Couple’s Past. The old house fascinated the girl long after her dancing days there ended. The majestic Victorian – a mansion it seemed – stood on the corner of Ross and 15th streets in Santa Ana. It was there, in the 1970s, that young Melani Motzkus studied dance in the house’s mahogany-paneled…

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“Little Ricky’s School Pageant” 1956 Signed Cast Photo from Lucy and Desi to Pepito and Joanne (2013)

I Love Lucy” cast signed photograph of the “Enchanted Forest” school recital featured within “I Love Lucy” Episode 163 “Little Ricky’s School Pageant” (Season 6, Episode 10), Desilu, 1956. Sold by Heritage Auctions in 2013 for $6,600.00. This photo hung on the wall of Joanne’s dance studio from 1956 until her estate was liquidated after her death in 2004. Inscriptions…

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VIDEO: Pepito and Joanne Portrayed on Living History Tour at Santa Ana’s Fairhaven Cemetery (2010)

Saturday, October 23, 2010 The annual guided historical tour of Fairhaven Memorial Park and Santa Ana Cemetery features costumed actors portraying historic figures who share stories from Orange County, California’s past.  This unique “living history tour” is the recipient of a prestigious California State Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, and is a joint presentation of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation…

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Orange County Register: Were You A Dance Student of Joanne Perez? (2010)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 Were you a dance student of Joanne Perez? Joanne and Pepito Perez ran a dance studio in Orange County that they opened in 1941 when their days on the road as performers ended. Memorabilia collector Melani Carty attended the dance school in the 1970s (when she was Melani Motzkus.) Carty now runs the website She…

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“The New Book of Lists”: Joanne Perez Mentioned in List of 9 Valuable Artworks Found Unexpectedly (2005)

Saturday, January 1, 2005 Joanne is mentioned on page 117 of The New Book of Lists, published in 2005, under the category of “9 Valuable Artworks Found Unexpectedly.”   4.  Under A Bed Joanne Perez, the widow of vaudeville performer Pepito the Spanish Clown, discovered the only existing copy of the pilot for the TV series I Love Lucy when she cleaned out the…

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The Pepito & Joanne House in Santa Ana, California, was home to the Pepito & Joanne Academy of Dance since 1950. Pepito and Joanne lived in the home in the front, and Joanne taught classes in the beautiful dance studio in the rear.

City of Santa Ana: Restored Pepito & Joanne House Wins Preservation Award (2007)

Monday, January 1, 2007 Historic Preservation Award Winners Congratulations to the 2007 Outstanding Historic Preservation Award Winners!  The first winner is Fermin Valencia for Restoration of the Pepito and Joanne’s Dance Studio. Pepito and Joanne were long-time friends of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and were in fact “co-conspirators” in getting the first episode of “I Love Lucy” on the…

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Eye On Santa Ana: Pepito and Joanne, Dancing With the Hollywood Stars (1994)

Wednesday, June 1, 1994 by Catherine C. Cate  (This article originally appeared in the Summer 1994 issue of “Eye on Santa Ana.”) Behind the iron gates that surround the Victorian-style building at 1502 N. Ross in Santa Ana, California lies a world well known to thousands of aspiring performers:  “The Pepito and Joanne Academy of Dance.”  But it is a world…

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Pepito the Clown and Lucille Ball in a scene from the 16 mm kinescope that would later become known as the “Lost Pilot of ‘I Love Lucy.’”

Orange County Register: “And In the Beginning Was ‘Lucy:’” Joanne and the Lost Pilot (1990)

Sunday, April 29, 1990 Byline: Ray Richmond, The Orange County Register  On March 2, 1951, a pilot episode was shot for a televised version of a comedy radio show that Lucille Ball had done called “My Favorite Husband.”  By October of that year, “I Love Lucy” was on the air and starting a six-season, 179-episode television run that would make…

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City of Santa Ana Register of Historical Properties: Ford House / Pepito & Joanne’s Dance Studio (2001)

Monday, October 29, 2001 NAME:  Ford House/Pepito and Joanne’s Dance Studio ADDRESS:  1502 North Ross Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706 YEAR BUILT:  1892/Moved 1924. LOCAL REGISTER CATEGORY:  Key HISTORIC DISTRICT:  N/A NEIGHBORHOOD:  Willard NATIONAL REGISTER CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION:  B, C NATIONAL REGISTER STATUS CODE:  5S1 ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: Queen Anne (Late Victorian) DESCRIPTION/BACKGROUND RELATED TO PERIOD ARCHITECTURE: The Queen Anne (Late Victorian) (also known as the Queen Anne Revival) dominated…

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Letter From Lucille Ball to Joanne Perez (1983)

Thursday, August 18, 1983 A one-page handwritten letter from the Lucille Ball to long-time friend, Joanne Perez, written on Lucy’s personal stationery. In blue ink, she writes,  “Joanne dear—Thank you for remembering my birthday—hope you had a chance to see some of that marathon on TV. Pepito had a lot to do with our initial success—Stay well—you looked beautiful last…

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