The Cirillo Brothers

The Four Cirillo Brothers, Mickey/Mike, Charlie, Tony and Andy Cirillo, were four zesty, dapper boys from Springfield, Massachusetts who sang and danced in a neat routine entitled “Variety,” a melange of song, dance and music.

The Four Cirillos were at the top of the vaudeville profession in 1930, traveling the RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) vaudeville circuit eastern loop, with stops in major cities in the United States and Canada. That year they shared a “boffo bill” loaded with top talent, including Pepito the Spanish Clown, Juanita (Joanne), and an unidentified young man with the stage name “Bombo”; Scott Sanders, “Scotland’s internationally famous character comedian”; and Monica and Ann Skelly, sisters of Hal Skelly, who performed a musical farce titled “What Price Society.”

As vaudeville faded out in the 1930s, in competition with “talkies,” the brothers transitioned to film careers, and later, television.


Newspaper clipping “The Cirillo Brothers” Memories From Vaudeville Days.” The Cirillo Brothers, photographed with Bob Hope. Back row (from left to right): unidentified man; Bob Hope; Mickey Cirillo; Arnold Cirillo. Front row left to right): Tony Cirillo and Charlie Cirillo. Courtesy of Paul McGinnis.Back row (from left to right): unidentified man; Bob Hope; Mickey Cirillo; Arnold Cirillo. Front row left to right): Tony Cirillo and Charlie Cirillo. Source: The Tolucan Times and Canyon Crier, June 4, 2003. Clipping courtesy of Paul McGinnis.

The Cirillo Brothers’ Memories From Vaudeville Days

The Tolucan Times & Canyon Crier

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

The historic photo seen here was left out of the Bob Hope issue in error. It is too good to miss!

My story goes back to the days of Vaudeville — the late 1920s. The days when my father and uncles were in show business when both they and Bob got started. “The Cirillo Brothers” included Mike, Charlie, Tony and Andy. My folks did a song and dance routine with some comedy intertwined. Bob, they tell me, was the Star Ham, and soon became a front-runner. Their relationship started in that early show business and continued somewhat socially with Italian dinners and I am sure lots of wine.

As Bob Hope continued on his career path through radio, motion pictures and television, my father and uncles were always treated well by Bob, and were included in many of his pictures, and television series The Bob Hope Show. Some of the early motion picturesI remember of The Cirillos were in were Pale Face, Son of Pale Face, and Aaron Slick From Pumpkin Crick. I myself was able to get on the set at Paramount Studios and meet many movie stars during that time period. My most memorable eras getting o meet Roy Rogers and getting to ride on Trigger. What a great memory for me when I was nine years old. I also had an opportunity to read for a role in The Seven Little Foys. Unfortunately I didn’t make the cut, but it was a great opportunity and I will always remember it and thank Bob for a shot at show business.

My one and only real claim to fame goes back to about 1952 or 1953 when I got a shot to be on The Bob Hope Show. Myself and two other young kids did a bit with Phil Harris. Now that I have reached my 60th birthday this year, I wish that I could find that clip to show my grandkids. Thanks to Bob and his brother Jack Hope, his producer, for that opportunity.

Unfortunately, my father, uncles and mother have all passed away over the past years. Bob Hope is indeed an inspiration for success in our world of opportunity. He must have paid attention to his health and fitness for many years. I myself started in the Health and Fitness business 22 years ago and started a company with my partner. The Fitness Store is the name of our establishment. We have six locations, with the closest one to Toluca Lake being in Studio City. Hey Bob, please stop by and I’ll work you a special on a new treadmill, guaranteed to last you another 100 years!!! Happy Birthday!

— Mike Cirillo and Family


1926

According to Charlie Cirillo’s obituary in VARIETY, “Charles Cirillo made his show business debut in 1926 in a Charleston dance contest [in or near his hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts] where he tap-danced in wooden clogs. Shortly after that, he and his three brothers began a singing, dancing and comedy vaudeville act that toured the United States on the Orpheum circuit, often playing on the same bill as Eddie Foy, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Bob Hope, Milton Berle and Burns and Allen.” A page from the Charlie Cirillo Scrapbook, courtesy of Char Cirillo and David Cirillo.

Cirillo Brothers Mentioned in Bob Hope’s Autobiography

For the first time in his life [Bob] Hope had the star spot on the bill. His pay began at $300 and soon moved to $325 a week. He could afford to give Louise some spending money and send Mahm $50 or so, and after Hogan had taken his, there was still a bit for tucking into a shoe.

The other acts were average small-time vaudeville. Third billing went to a mediocre dancing act performed by the Cirillo Brothers, four zesty Italians from Springfield, Massachusetts. Hope thought they were wonderful. In fact, 25 years
later they showed up with regularity doing bits on his televisions shows of the 1950s and ’60s. All about five feet six, they were hot-tempered and lusty bachelors. They traveled in their own Ford touring car with its superchrome fittings, running boards, and a rumble seat that saw its share of sexual conquest in country lanes just outside town.

After Oklahoma City, where audiences were fairly responsive, the troupe moved to Fort Worth for a two-week stay. At the first show, as soon as they came offstage, Hope swung out through the wings and launched into his snappy opening material, but there wasn’t much reaction. The Louise spot worked, and after that he had to work even harder-played even cockier, faster, more flippant to get a response. It wasn’t working.

“I had killed them with this stuff at the
Stratford,” Hope said, “and I hadn’t done that bad in Oklahoma City, and it was the same act. Here I was laying the biggest egg in my life so far. I really died! I didn’t know what to make of it.”


“In vaudeville in those days, you came out battling and you protected yourself at all times. If you didn’t, the other acts flattened you. When I played the Inter-State Time in Texas later on as M.C., the Cirillo Brothers were an act on my bill. The Cirillos were four Italian boys who sang and danced. They were hot-tempered, and one night in Dallas while I was introducing them,
they had a terrific row backstage. They kicked up such a commotion I couldn’t make myself heard. Asking the audience to excuse me, I went backstage and said, “Sh-h-h, I’m trying to tell those people out there how lovable and attractive you are.”

They subsided and I went back on. When I finished my spiel they came out, bowing and smiling sweetly. But as I introduced
the next act, the racket backstage started again. When I finished the introduction, I went back once more and asked, “What’s eating you, anyway?” They broke down and told me the reason for their wrangling.
The night before, one of the brothers had taken one bow more than the others.


1930

The Cirillo Brothers On Tour With Pepito, the Spanish Clown, RKO Vaudeville

On Tour With THE FOUR CIRILLOS, on the RKO Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit, 1930-1931. SILENT footage shot by Pepito and Joanne using their 16mm home movie camera. Copyright http://www.PepitoAndJoanne.com. Footage courtesy of Melani Carty.
The Cirillo Brothers on the same RKO Vaudeville bill with Pepito, the Spanish Clown, Scott Sanders, Monica & Ann Skelly, Ethel Marine Company. Source: Manitoba Press, January 1, 1930.
From left to right: unidentified man; Joanne Zettler; Charlie Cirillo; Monica or Ann Skelly?; Pepito; Mickey Cirillo; Scott Sanders? Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
Newspaper advertisement for Scott Sanders, Four Cirillo Brothers, Monica & Ann Skelly, Ethel Marine Co., and Pepito the Spanish Clown at The Capitol Theater, “Home of RKO Vaudeville,” Manitoba, Canada . Source: Manitoba Press, January 16, 1930.
From left to right: Monica or Ann Skelly?; Pepito; Mickey Cirillo, Scott Sanders? 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
Scott Sanders, Pepito,, Arnold or Michael Cirillo on small guitar; unidentified man. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
A page from the Charlie Cirillo Scrapbook, courtesy of Char Cirillo and David Cirillo. Source: The Oregon Daily, January 24, 1930.
Joanne Zetter on accordion, Charlie Cirillo on trick violin, Arnold Cirillo on guitar. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
RKO Orpheum advertisement from January 25, 1930 (city not identified). Presenting Scott Sanders, The Four Cirillos, Pepito the Spanish Clown with Juanita and Bombo, and Monica and Ann Skelly. The accompanying theater review states that “The Four Cirillo Brothers are four dapper boys who perform in a neat routine of song and dance.” A page from the Charlie Cirillo Scrapbook, courtesy of Char Cirillo and David Cirillo.
Scott Sanders on drum, Pepito, Charlie Cirillo, Mickey or Arnold Cirillo on small guitar, and unidentified man. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.


“Pepito, the famous Spanish clown, is an amazing person and his unusual act gives scope for the talents of Juanita and Bombo, who are quite an act in themselves. Pepito is a master of clowning. The Four Cirillo Brothers entitle their act, ‘Variety,’ and further describe it as a melange of song, dance and music, which is about as good a description as any. They are polished performers.” Source: The Vancouver Sun, February 3, 1930.
Joanne Zettler; Charlie Cirillo on trick violin; Mickey or Arnold Cirillo on on guitar. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
THEATRE GOERS
Here is one of the best shows of the season! With Scott Sanders, Scotland’s internationally famous coredian heading the bill. And the world
famous Spanish clown, Pepito, formerly court clown for King Alfonso of Spain, along with Monica and Ann Skelly, sisters of the famous Hal
Skelly of movie fame, in a musical farce packed with laughs. The Four Cirillo Brothers in “Variety,” and Freddy Craig, Jr., with his “Mental
Diversions,” round out a vaudeville show that has everything!
The all-talking picture, “The Locked Door,” with Rod La Rocque, William Boyd and Betty Bronson, will satisfy the most discriminating audiences.

All in All: The Orpheum is 100% this weck.
Don’t Miss This Show
ORPHEUM THEATRE
MAYNARD JOINER, Manager
Source: The Vancouver Sun, February 5, 1930.
Scott Sander on drum; Pepito; Charlie Cirillo; Mickey Cirillo on little guitar. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
February 10, 1930, The Cirillo Brothers at The Orpheum in Seattle, Washington. Digitized newspaper advertisement discovered by Char Cirillo.
February 10, 1930, The Cirillo Brothers at The Orpheum in Seattle, Washington. Digitized newspaper article discovered by Char Cirillo.
Joanne Zettler on accordion; Charlie Cirillo on violin. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
Source: The Oregonian, February 21, 1930, page 24. Digitized newspaper advertisement discovered by Char Cirillo.
Left to right: Charlie Cirillo; unidentified man; Michael Cirillo. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
February 22, 1930. Source: The Morning Oregonian, page 10. Digitized newspaper advertisement discovered by Char Cirillo.
Source: The Morning Oregonian, page 10, February 22, 1930. Digitized newspaper advertisement discovered by Char Cirillo.
Left to right: unidentified man; Charlie Cirillo. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
Source: The Morning Oregonian, February 24, 1930. Digitized newspaper advertisement discovered by Char Cirillo.
Source: The Morning Oregonian, February 24, 1930. Digitized newspaper article discovered by Char Cirillo.
Left to right: unidentified man; Charlie Cirillo; unidentified man.
Source: Oakland Tribune, March 12, 1930.
Left to right: Michael Cirillo; Scott Sanders. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
Left to right: unidentified man; Mickey Cirillo; Scott Sanders? 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
“Cirillo Boys at Keith’s Really Brothers Under the Skin.” The Four Cirillo Brothers … left to right … Theodore, Charles, Arnold and Michael, October 1930. Source: unidentified newspaper, October, 1930.
Michel Cirillo with foot sticking up and a big smile. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
Charlie Cirillo, left in bathing cap; Michael Cirillo in center with big smile. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
Charlie Cirillo, and Scott Sanders. 1930. Frame grab courtesy of Melani Carty.
Cirillo Boys at Keith’s Really Brothers Under the Skin. The Four Cirillo Brothers … left to right … Theodore, Charles, Arnold and Michael, October 1930. Source: unidentified newspaper, October, 1930. Clipping courtesy of

1933

The Cirillo Brothers and Bob Hope, circa 1933. Back row (from left to right): unidentified man; Bob Hope; Mickey Cirillo; Arnold Cirillo. Front row left to right): Tony Cirillo and Charlie Cirillo. Courtesy of Paul McGinnis.

1936

The Cirillo Brothers, Tony, Charlie and Mickey, Springfield, Massachusetts.
Left to right: Tony Cirillo (3); Charlie Cirillo (1); Mickey Cirillo (2). Undated, but on the back it is noted Earl Carroll Vanities. Image courtesy of David Cirillo.

1942

“Jail House Blues’ movie poster, 1942. A prisoner about to be pardoned puts it off until he can put on one last variety show for his fellow inmates. Charlie Cirillo top right; Mickey Cirillo lower right with cop hat. Courtesy of David Cirillo.
Charlie Cirillo (bottom, in gray hat) on a “Jail House Blues’ promotional movie poster, 1942. Three of the Cirillo brothers had small roles in the film: Charlie, Tony and Mike.

1944

Charles “Charlie” Cirillo photograph, 1944. The autograph reads “Hello, I am going to a photography school in camp here, for 8 days. Just a Seabee, ‘Can do.’ I may get to be a carpenter’s mate. Ha ha. Best to all, Chas.” Image courtesy of John McGinnis.

1940’s?

The Three Cirillos. Left to right: Lil Cirillo, Charlie Cirillo, and Lil’s husband Mike Cirillo. Undated. Image courtesy of David Cirillo.

1949

Left to right, Charlie Cirillo, Lil Cirillo and her husband Mike Cirillo, 1949. Image courtesy of David Cirillo.
Caption: “Two members of the Cirillo Trio appearing with the all-laff stage revue of the year “CHUCKLES of 1949,” playing at the Broadway, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.” Digital download of the Charlotte Observer, March 6, 1949.
The Cirillo Trio in the traveling stage revue “CHUCKLES of 1949.” Image courtesy of David Cirillo.
The Cirillo Trio. Charlie Cirillo on violin, Lil Cirillo on guitar, and Mike Cirillo with whistle. Undated. Image courtesy of David Cirillo.

1951

Charlie the Clown (Charles Cirillo) visiting a children’s hospital, 1951. Image courtesy of David Cirillo.

1953

Charlie Cirillo as “Bee Bop” on the left. His lines begin with “Pop me, Dad!” and then he performs a scat duet, in a scene from the Marlon Brando film “The Wild One,” 1953. Drama starring Marlon Brando. After being thrown out of a motorcycle event, the Black Rebels biker gang descend on a small American town igniting the passions and bigotry of the local inhabitants. Johnny, the leader, becomes interested in a young waitress, the daughter of the ineffectual town sheriff. But chaos erupts when a rival motorcycle gang arrives in the town. Link to video courtesy of David Cirillo.

1958

Charles Cirillo in a role as a barber, from the television show Leave It to Beaver, 1958, in the episode titled “The Shave.” The boy in the chair is Ken Osmond. Image courtesy of Paul McGinnis.
Hugh Beaumont, Charlie Cirillo (barber) and Ken Osmond (boy) in the 1958 episode of Leave It To Beaver titled “The Shave.” Link courtesy of David Cirillo.

1962

Charlie Cirillo as a clown in a Jeep Wagoneer print advertisement, 1962. Image courtesy of David Cirillo.

1968

Charlie Cirillo (beginning at 0:54 seconds into this video clip), front row center in a group of seated smoking passengers, in an episode of GET SMART, “Closely Watched Planes.” Original airdate, October 5, 1968. Link courtesy of David Cirillo.
Screen grab of Charlie Cirillo, front row center passenger in a gray suit, in an episode of GET SMART, “Closely Watched Planes.” Original airdate, October 5, 1968.

1986

Charlie Cirillo as a sad clown in a Levi Strauss print advertisement, 1986. Image courtesy of David Cirillo.

1987

Charlie Cirillo as a clown in a television episode of Murder She Wrote with Angela Lansbury, 1987. Image courtesy of David Cirillo.

In Memory of Charles Cirillo (Charlie Cirillo)

Born: August 8, 1908, Springfield, Massachusetts
Died: December 4, 1999, Woodland Hills, California

Obituary in VARIETY

Charles Cirillo, veteran vaudeville, film and TV entertainer whose career spanned seven decades, died Dec. 4 at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 91.

A native of Springfield, Mass., Cirillo made his show business debut in 1926 in a Charleston dance contest where he tap-danced in wooden clogs.

Shortly after that, he and his three brothers began a singing, dancing and comedy vaudeville act that toured the United States on the Orpheum circuit, often playing on the same bill as Eddie Foy, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Bob Hope, Milton Berle and Burns and Allen.

As the heyday of vaudeville ebbed, Cirillo relocated to Hollywood, where he accumulated acting credits including roles in “The Paleface,” “Sorrowful Jones,” “The Wild One,” “Guys and Dolls,” “The Geisha Boy,” “The Great Escape,” “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Sting.”

He also essayed roles on numerous television shows such as “I Love Lucy,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Highway to Heaven” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

Cirillo also served as Charles Bronson’s stand-in for a number of years and appeared in bits in many of Bronson’s films.

Cirillo is survived by his wife of 52 years, Clara, two sons, a daughter and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

Source: https://variety.com/2000/scene/people-news/charles-cirillo-1117883476/


The following obituary was placed in the Springfield, Massachusetts Union News on January 6, 2000.

CHARLES CIRILLO, 91,
LONGTIME ENTERTAINER

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – Charles Cirillo, a veteran entertainer in vaudeville, film and television, died on Dec. 4 at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital. He was 91. Born in Springfield, Mass., he danced for pennies in the South End and made his vaudeville debut in an amateur talent contest in 1926, dancing the Charleston and tap dancing in wooden clogs. Shortly afterward, he and three brothers – Tony, Andy and Mickey – pooled their talents and became The Four Cirillo Brothers.


CHARLES CIRILLO (Charlie Cirillo)

Charles Cirillo, veteran vaudeville, film and TV entertainer whose career spanned seven decades, died Dec. 4 at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 91. 

A native of Springfield, Mass., Cirillo made his show business debut in 1926 in a Charleston dance contest where he tap danced in wooden clogs. 

Shortly after that, he and his three brothers began a singing, dancing and comedy vaudeville act that toured the United States on the Orpheum circuit, often playing on the same bill as Eddie Foy, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, and Burns and Allen. 

As the heyday of vaudeville ebbed, Cirillo relocated to Hollywood, where he accumulated acting credits including roles in “The Paleface,” “Sorrowful Jones,” “The Wild One,” “Guys and Dolls,” “The Geisha Boy,” “The Great Escape,” “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Sting.”

He also essayed roles on numerous television shows such as “I Love Lucy,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Highway to Heaven” and “Murder, She Wrote.” 

Cirillo also served as Charles Bronson’s stand-in for a number of years and appeared in bits in many of Bronson’s films. 

Cirillo is survived by his wife of 52 years, Clara, two sons, a daughter and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Source: https://variety.com/2000/scene/people-news/charles-cirillo-1117883476/


Charles Cirillo was born on August 8, 1908 in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. He is known for his work on Amazing Stories (1985), Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957) and Square Dance Jubilee (1949). He died on December 4, 1999 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA.

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0162742/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


In Memory of Anthony John Cirillo (Tony Cirillo)

Tony Cirillo was born on November 14, 1910 in Massachusetts, USA as Anthony John Cirillo. He was an actor, known for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1948), The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944) and Sorrowful Jones (1949). He died on November 16, 1968 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0162753/?ref_=nm_dyk_trv1


In Memory of Michael Anthony Cirillo (Mickey Cirillo)

Michael Cirillo was born on April 20, 1903 in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA as Michael Anthony Cirillo. He was an actor, known for Front Page Detective (1951). He died on August 29, 1968 in South Pasadena, California, USA.

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0162750/?ref_=nm_dyk_trv2


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