Margaret Shorey, the “Rosita” in “Pepito and Rosita”
Margaret Louise Shorey, also known as “Peggy” Shorey and “Marty” Shorey, was the “Rosita” in the vaudeville act “Pepito & Rosita,” the first stage partner and female foil for Pepito, the Spanish Clown after his arrival in the United States in 1922.
Margaret Shorey’s classic Spanish señorita stage costume as “Rosita” was inspired by the “Spanish craze” of the 1920s, inspired by the motion pictures of the dashingly handsome actor, Rudolf Valentino. In 1923, world-famous actress Mary Pickford, known as “America’s Sweetheart” had been a sensation as a mandolin-playing waif from Spain in her motion picture “Rosita,” and doubtless this made an impression on the Barcelona-born Pepito, who named their act “Pepito and Rosita.”
As “Rosita” in Pepito’s act, Margaret Shorey sang, played the guitar like a Spanish senorita, did a “snake-charmer” number with her cornet, played the saxophone, played “straight-woman” during Pepito’s comic routines, provided musical entertainment on coronet and saxophone during short interludes to allow Pepito time to change costumes, scenery or props.
But Margaret Shorey was no mere “assistant” or “girl musician” or “foil” to Pepito. In fact, it is apparent from newspaper clippings that her talents as a musician and a singer, plus her business savvy and newspaper connections, propelled “Pepito & Rosita” from performing at county fairs in 1923 to becoming an “A-List” vaudeville act by 1927. For unknown reasons, Margaret quit “Pepito and Rosita” in late 1927 and went her separate way.
A few years ago, I unearthed a little gem in an online newspaper archive: a 1925 newspaper two-page spread feature article about Pepito the Spanish Clown and “Peggy” Shorey, titled “How the Clown Won Back the Beauty From the King.” This article smacks of melodramatic sensationalization of what may have been an actual event, for the purposes of promoting vaudeville ticket sales. Margaret Shorey’s father was a prominent Los Angeles newspaperman named Frederick North Shorey, and he may have played a hand in placing this feature article in several newspapers around the country.
Pepito and “Peggy” appear to have had a torrid personal relationship, but were never married. After Margaret Shorey and Pepito parted ways in late 1927, she went on to marry in 1929 the prolific movie actor Frank Mayo, Jr. It was a third (?) marriage for the many-times-married Mayo, who had recently been granted an annulment from notorius actress Dagmar Godowsky.
In my research, I have not yet discovered much Margaret’s life after she married Frank Mayo Jr. and became Margaret Louise Mayo. The 1930 Census shows her living in Beverly Hills with her husband Frank Mayo and their manservant.
Margaret Shorey died in 1957 under the name Margaret Louise Swails, in Orange, California, apparently divorced from Frank Mayo Jr. The years from 1929 to 1957 are still a bit of a mystery.
After Margaret Shorey and Pepito parted ways in early January, 1928, Pepito was booked to perform as a clown in the live circus-themed stage “Ballyhoo” which preceded each showing of Charlie Chaplin’s new movie “The Circus” at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. It was at Grauman’s that Pepito first performed with his future wife Joanne, who went by the stage name Joan Falcy. Pepito and Joanne were hired by Sid Grauman separately, but it was Charlie Chaplin who paired them up as a “clown and ballerina” act. Joanne was always proud to say that Charlie Chaplin was their matchmaker.
Many thanks to Lee Shorey, great-nephew of Margaret Shorey, and his wife Kathy Shorey, for their contributions and allowing me to interview them on the telephone in 2010.
And many thanks to CarlaJean Beers and her husband Jeff Beers for tracking me down in 2020 through the magic of the internet and search engines. They shared with me many photos and clippings from Margaret Shorey’s own long-lost vaudeville scrapbook and shoebox, found inside a long-locked trunk. With their assistance, I am finally able to fill the mysterious gap in Pepito’s own memorabilia for the years 1922-1927. This story is so amazing, it will get its own separate blog post soon.
If YOU have any information about Margaret Louise Shorey, please contact me.
Related posts about the vaudeville team “Pepito & Rosita”
San Antonio Express: Famous Clown Gladdens Hearts of Little Cripples and Orphans With Funny Act (1924)
Tuesday, October 7, 1924 Oh-h-, lookee ! — His shoes don’t fit!” “Lookit ‘im, he’s a real clown — an’ the beautiful lady!” These and other breathless exclamations were coming from several hundred youngsters who fairly swarmed over the fence of the Protestant Orphans’ Home, when Pepito, headline clown attraction at the Majestic, and Rosita (Margaret Shorey), his attractive young assistant, and other members of his troupe arrived at the home. With round eyes they watched the grotesquely costumed clown clamber along in an entrancing pair of shoes not less than 24 inches long, at the least. Soon peals of childish laughter issued from a happy audience when Pepito started his tricks on the lawn of the…
Watertown New York Daily Times: Avon Bill Has Two Headliners; Pepito Makes Return Visit (1925)
Friday, April 3, 1925 One of the best programs of vaudeville that Watertown, New York theater goers have had the opportunity of seeing in a long time is now at the Avon theater and it promises to please all of the patrons of the theater who attend the Avon this week. There are two real Keith headliners on the bill which are two of the best acts that Watertown has ever seen in vaudeville…. The other headliner was Pepito, The Spanish Clown. This act was one of the cleverest acts that Watertown has ever seen and it brought a round…
Watertown New York Daily Times: Big Time Keith Bill at Avon; Pepito the World Renowned Spanish Clown Offers A Wealth of Entertainment (1925)
Saturday, April 4, 1925 Pepito, the world renowned Spanish clown offers, a wealth of entertainment amid beautiful settings and gorgeous costumes. He is the master mimic of them all, and his specialties are wonderful and amazing. Miss Rosita* adds much to the offering with a saxophone solo and a cornet duet with another artist that is most pleasing. Pepito is certainly an entertainer; his number of a crying baby is realistic and a ventriloquist number is masterful. Pepito is a versatile artist and his offering is a wonder of color and artistry. * Rosita was the stage name of Margaret…
Nationally Syndicated Feature: “How the Clown Won Back the Beauty From the King” (1925)
Monday, December 7, 1925 This is a real gem: a 1925 newspaper feature article about Pepito the Spanish Clown, aka Jose Escobar Perez, and his first stage partner, Peggy Shorey, aka Margaret Shorey, who performed together from 1924-1928. Margaret Shorey’s specialty was playing the guitar and singing songs like a Spanish senorita, even though she was actually born in Wisconsin and raised in California. In 1923, Mary Pickford had been a sensation as a mandolin-playing waif from Spain in the movie “Rosita,” and doubtless this made an impression on the Barcelona-born Pepito, who named their act “Pepito and Rosita.”…
Seeking the Descendants of Clara Falcy Raddatz Foy (1933)
Wednesday, June 28, 1933 One aspect of my research is to try to locate family members of Pepito and Joanne, to see if they have any photos, clippings, or scrapbooks to contribute to this research project. Finding anything like that in someone’s attic would be a big help to my research. Unfortunately, Pepito’s wife, Joanne Perez (birth name, Margaret Zettler), was an only child, and her father passed away when she was a girl. If Joanne gave any photos or clippings to family members, it would have most likely been her mother’s sisters and their families. Using Ancestry.com, I have…
San Pedro News Pilot: Pepito & Rosita at the West Coast Cabrillo Theatre (1927)
February 5, 1927 Pepito & Rosita* newspaper advertisement for vaudeville performances at the West Coast Cabrillo Theatre, 7th & Palos Verdes, San Pedro, California. *Rosita was the stage name of Peggy Shorey, birth name Margaret Shorey. Source: San Pedro News Pilot, Volume 14, Number 108, page 3, 5 February 1927