KAY HAMILTON was born in Camden on September 25, 1909, the daughter of minstrel show and vaudeville performer Joseph P. Hamilton and his wife, the former Laura Cowls. Her grandfather, Garrett Cowls organized and pitched for the first baseball team in the city, and managed it for many years as well. At the time of the April 1910 Census, the family lived at 326 Cooper Street in Camden, renting an apartment from prominent Camden physician Dr. Daniel Strock. The family would include five other children, Francis, Laura, Joseph P. Jr; Elmer, and Edith Hamilton. Born Kathryn Hamilton, she would become the third generation of Hamiltons to make a career in show business.

As a child Kay "play theater", and would make money by singing in front of music shops to sell sheet music. With show business in her blood, she made her debut in 1919. She attended St. Mary's Catholic School, but her real schooling came on stage. A stage veteran by 1927, Kay Hamilton was working that year on Broadway, with Eddie Dowling in the musical Sidewalks of New York. She also appeared in vaudeville, and in nightclubs and theaters. 

By 1930 The Hamilton family was living at 501 Haddon Avenue, the corner of Haddon and Newton Avenues, directly across the street from what was then Junior High School No. 1. By October of 1931 Kay Hamilton was making her residence at 1317 Park Boulevard in the  Parkside section of Camden. In 1934 Kay Hamilton was a featured performer in the mid 1930s with George Jessel's road show. 

Kay Hamilton married Peter Trado in the summer of 1936. They continued to work in show business. Peter Trado served in the United States Army from September 1, 1942 through August 31, 1945. The Trados took a shot at Hollywood. Kay had been featured in a 1937  short film called Swing for Sale. Peter appeared in an uncredited role in one film, The Perils of Pauline, in 1947.

She later went to Hollywood. By 1956 they had moved to Oaklyn NJ. Peter Trado passed away in 1969. Remaining a resident of Oaklyn, Kay Hamilton Trado passed away on Mach 18, 1998. 

Kay Hamilton;s nephew, James P. McEvoy, served with the Camden Fire Department from 1969 to 1982.

If anyone has any further information about Kathryn "Kay" Hamilton, or her father, vaudeville and minstrel show performer Joseph Hamilton, or Vaudeville in Camden NJ, PLEASE e-mail me!

Phil Cohen phil552@comcast.net

Cooper Street

February 7, 2004

Dr. Daniel Strock
Garrett Cowls
Joseph Hamilton
Kay Hamilton

April 2004-
This building
will be demolished
to accommodate
Rowan University

Click on Images to Enlarge

Best guess is that this dates from the 1920s, when Kay Hamilton was working in Atlantic City.

Camden Courier February 17, 1928

Camden Morning Post

December 9, 1930

Roseland Studio
Federal Street
Joseph Campbell - Hazel McCloskey
William McCloskey
Fawn & Foster
Little Mary Woodrow
Kathryn Hamilton
Jimmy Dougherty's Orchestra

Globe Theatre - 725 Boardwalk - Atlantic City - 1931
Date derived from notice on Kay Rashti's storefront announcing leaving Atlantic City

Camden Courier-Post - October 29, 1931

Kathryn Hamilton, Walter Stanton Billed 
for Ambassador's Masked Ball

Two well known Camden entertainers will aid and abet the spooks and the Ambassador Club in making tomorrow evening an enjoyable one for the 5000 mummers expected to attend the club's annual masked ball.

They are Miss Kathryn Hamilton and Walter Stanton, who will not only lead the grand march, but will "put on" their acts. Miss Hamilton is the talented daughter of Joe Hamilton, famous minstrel, and has appeared in this vicinity on numerous occasions as well as on vaudeville circuits. The petite songstress resides at 1317 Park Boulevard.

Stanton has just returned from an RKO tour. The Mack and Stanton act played all last Winter and Summer. He has been master of ceremonies, in which capacity he will serve tomorrow, at a number of famous clubs, and is now 

 enacting that role at the Stroller's Club in New York.

The· club, of which Steve Kirby is president, is holding the gala affair tomorrow night instead of on Halloween in order that dancing will not be discontinued until 2 a. m. Pat Riley's orchestra will present the dance program, while Harry D. Roselle will direct the grand march.

It will be an appropriate night for the "spiriks" to chase "Popeye”, the Courier-Post comic strip idol, as 200 newsboys who will be guests of the club, will vie for a cash prize to be awarded to the one whose costume renders him the best likeness to the hard-hitting sailor man. Other prizes will be awarded to the winners of the perfect form con test and various costume competitions.

Camden Courier Post - October 30, 1931

Many Novelties Planned for Ambassador Club's Masked Ball Tonight

One of the outstanding novelties on the diversified program planned for the Ambassador Club's annual masked ball at Convention Hall tonight will be the "perfect form contest."

Modeled after the bathing beauty contest, it is open to any girl who 

desires to compete. The contestants will be in bathing suits, and cash prizes will be awarded winners. Prizes will also be awarded to the winners in various classes of costumes and to the boy whose disguise renders him the best likeness to "Popeye," the sailor man of the Courier-Post comic strip. More than 200 newsboys, guests of the club, will compete for that award,

Prizes total $300 in cash and awards for the various contests.

The dance program, presented by Pat Riley's 12-piece orchestra, will continue until 2:00 A.M.. The grand march will be led by Walter Stanton and Kathryn Hamilton, who will also number among the entertainers. Stanton will be master of ceremonies, while Harry W. Roselle will direct the grand march.

Steve Kirby, president of the club, heads the committee in charge of arrangements.

Camden Courier-Post - October 31, 1931

'Everybody Happy?'- Yea! Yea!

Two of the hundreds of juvenile mummers who greeted Halloween early were snapped last night, as they wistfully paused in their quest of "cold pieces" to pose for the cameraman. At left is Alfred McLoughlin in Amish regalia. His demure companion, garbed as a Quaker damsel, is Bessie Cummins.

Gloom Vanishes, Joy Prevails As Halloween Is Observed
South Jersey Celebrates With Dances and Parties; Hundreds Attend Ball Masque at Convention Hall; 'Popeye' Impersonated by Newsies

Wrinkles and furrowed brows gave way to grins and broad smiles last night as Camden and South Jersey was gripped by a spirit of fun.

Today children will continue to laugh at the woes of adults. Grown­ups, too, will adopt the festival air characteristic of clowns in place of the depressing concern of the day. There seems to be greater cause to seize upon an occasion for fun this year and everyone is glad Halloween is at hand.        

 The height of jollity was attained last night at the Convention Hall where bathing beauties mingled with costumed dancers. The occasion marked the annual masked dance of the Ambassador Club. Prizes were distributed among the gaily-garbed revelers and more than 200 newsboys sprinkled laughter throughout the huge civic hall by their appearance in costumes impersonating "Popeye."

Nearly 2500 persons, nearly all of whom were costumed, attended. Out­standing among the throng were numerous imitators of Popeye and Olive Oyl, Courier-Post comic strip characters. Many attired as animals, cannibals and  female impersonators attracted comment and attention.

Walter J.A. Stanton, vaudeville star, served as master of the fete, and accompanied Miss Kathryn Hamilton, popular singer, in leading the grand march. "Joe" Hamilton, father of Miss Hamilton and widely known as a minstrel performer, joined Stanton in one act. Warrington's Dancing Dolls, of 921 Broadway, and a chorus of ten, was another feature.

Music was furnished by Pat Riley's 12-piece orchestra.

Parades In Suburbs Tonight

Suburban towns will celebrate Halloween in fitting style tonight. Scattered throughout the county and other parts of South Jersey will be numerous parties and community fetes.

Cash prizes totaling $325 will be awarded mummers in Collingswood's annual parade, arranged under the direction of a committee of the fire company there. The march is due to form at 8 p. m. at Haddon and Pacific avenues. Hundreds of children and various civic and military organizations are expected to participate. Prizes will be distributed during a band concert to be held when the parade disbands at the fire hall. Fifty-nine cash prizes make up the list. Juvenile marchers will be given candy.

 The tenth annual community celebration at Westmont also promises to present a Mardi Gras setting. Merchants throughout the borough have offered prizes to paraders. Jay M. Ackley, under-sheriff, heads a citizens' committee in charge of the event and will serve as parade mar shall. The American Legion bugle and drum corps and a band furnished by the Spanish War veterans will provide music. The parade will start and finish at the Westmont fire hall.

Gloucester Enjoys Parties

The annual masquerade party of the Christian Endeavor Society of the First Presbyterian Church, Gloucester, was held last night in the American Legion Home, 315 Hudson Street.

The Girls Friendly Society, of the P. E. Church of the Ascension, Gloucester, were hostesses last night to a number of young people at a masquerade dance staged in the par­ish building. Mrs. Walter B. Reed, who is the official "mother" of the organization, assisted the members in their program arrangements.

The 13 rooms of the Monmouth Street School, Gloucester, had celebrations yesterday afternoon. It was the annual masquerade party. Miss Ethel M. Costello, principal, visited each room.

Several amateur boxing bouts are scheduled to feature the annual mas­querade party and dance of the Kirk­wood Fire Company, which will be held tonight in the Log Cabin on Kirkwood Lake.

The affair is expected to be one of the biggest Halloween parties of the season in that vicinity, will be staged by a committee composed of George C. Rickards, Charles Goodman, Robert Smith and Ellis Burns. Prizes will be awarded for winning costumes in various classes. Refreshments will be served.

Members of St. Joseph's Council, Knights of Columbus, of Palmyra and Riverton, last night, gave a mas­querade dance and party in the K. of C. Hall, Palmyra. William J. Eck, directed the committee. Prizes were awarded.

Camden Courier-Post - June 20, 1933

Given Screen Test

KAY HAMILTON Camden songbird who attracted attention of Movieland with her own presentation of 'The Blues', was given a screen test yesterday at Warner Brothers New York studio following recent successes on radio and stage. Miss Hamilton returned to Camden last night to visit with her father, "Joe" Hamilton, of minstrel fame. 


 May 13, 1934


Spring-Summer - 1936

New York Times - July 19, 1936

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York Daily Mirror,
New York American & New York Evening Journal
Spring-Summer - 1936

May 17, 1936

Camden Courier-Post - July 1, 1936

Kathryn Hamilton, Camden Singer, Weds Peter Trado 

A long-distance romance yesterday was consummated in the marriage of Kathryn T. Hamilton, Camden vaudeville singer, and Peter Trado, New York 

And immediately, it became a long distance marriage, for today the bridegroom sails for England. 

"Kay", as the bride is known to her family and friends, is the daughter of Joe Hamilton, old-time minstrel who lives at 500 Haddon Avenue

Four years ago, while singing in a theatre at Providence, R.I., Kay met her future husband. He and his brother Frank, known on the stage as the Trado Twins, were booked at the same house. Friendship blossomed into love, but except for the rare occasions when both were billed in New York, the romance was carried on by mail, telephone and telegraph while Kay and Peter made their separate ways around the theatres of the nation. 

Today the Trado Twins sail on the Normandie for an engagement in the London Palladium and then for a tour of the British Isles. So Peter came to 
Camden yesterday and delivered a persuasive "now is the time" speech. It worked. 

With members of the bride's family they drove to Elkton, Md. and there were married by Rev. M. E. Wheatley in the parsonage of the Elkton M. E, 
Church. The bride's brother, Elmer was best man and her sister Mrs. Laura McAvoy, bridesmaid. Also present were her father and mother. Mrs. 
Laura Hamilton, and another brother, Joe, Jr. 

As soon as her contract with Bobby Sanford's Show Boat, on the Hudson river, New York expires, Kay is going to sail for England to join 
her husband. 

When they return, they will be re-married in the Immaculate Conception Church. Broadway and Market streets, Trado said. Trado explained that 
their decision to marry was made so suddenly there had been no time to publish the bans for a marriage here before he sailed. 

July 1936 - Peter and Frank Trado aboard the Normandie, bound for England

July to September 1936 - Peter and Frank Trado in England

Atlantic City - 1937

Atlantic City - 1937

Atlantic City - circa 1937

Atlantic City - circa 1937

Lookout House - Covington, Kentucky - circa 1938

Miami Beach, Florida - circa 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939

Miami Beach, Florida - 1939



Kay Hamilton on beach with Charles Kemper. Kemper was a vaudeville trained actor who did a number of shorts in the 1930s and went on to better roles in the 1940s. Sadly, he was killed in a car accident ion May 19, 1950 at the age of 49. My best guess is that these pictures were taken in California when Kay went to Hollywood in 1937.






















Camden Courier-Post * 1970s

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 24, 1998

Kathryn H. Trado, Singer In Vaudeville
By S. Joseph Hagenmayer

Kathryn Hamilton Trado, 88, a 1930s and 1940s vaudeville singer heralded as ``Camden's own,'' died Wednesday at West Jersey Hospital-Camden.

An Oaklyn resident since 1954, she was born and raised in Camden.

Mrs. Trado used the stage name ``Kay Hamilton'' as a singer who won her fame in vaudeville, touring from Boston to Chicago.

But she always had a special place in her heart for Camden, where she attended St. Mary's Grammar School and got her start in local vaudeville. When show tours didn't include a stop at a Camden theater, she often persuaded the agents to add one.

Mrs. Trado grew up in the shadow of RCA Victor in Camden, said her brother, Joseph Hamilton Jr. Her father, the late Joseph Hamilton, was a famed funny man in black-faced minstrel shows.

``My father encouraged us to go into show business,'' her brother said.

``Her life in show business was the mainstay of the family during the Depression.''

Before she turned 10, she was performing with her father. In her early teens, she cut a record at the nearby RCA facility, family members said.

It was the heyday of vaudeville, and Kay Hamilton took the changes in popular music in stride, first singing minstrel tunes, then blues numbers, then swing, according to newspaper accounts.

``Year after year, she continues to get her name in the lights of Broadway's more famous spots,'' said a 1943 newspaper story about her return to the Towers Theatre in Camden, once the city's premier entertainment venue.

``She was the little girl with the big voice,'' said her sister, Laura McEvoy. ``No operatic singer, she was a blues singer.''

Early in her career she traveled with the Bert Smith Revue, and when she appeared at Philadelphia's Earle Theater it was with Amos 'n' Andy's famed Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. During World War II, she appeared in USO shows with Jimmy Durante, George Jessel, Ken Murray and the vaudeville team of Olsen and Johnson.

As vaudeville faded, her career as a singer carried her to Palumbo's in Philadelphia, where she performed for several years.

Mrs. Trado's career ended shortly after World War II, and she married Peter Trado, a vaudeville performer whose act with his twin brother once traveled to Europe. Having lived in hotels for most of her life, Mrs. Trado was more than content to settle down in her dream house in Oaklyn, her sister said. Mrs. Trado continued to sing in benefits, including some at Camden County's Lakeland Complex, McEvoy said.

In addition to her brother and sister, Mrs. Trado is survived by many nephews and nieces.

Friends may call from 9 a.m. tomorrow in St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, 37 W. Haddon Ave., Oaklyn, where Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Cherry Hill.

Memorial donations may be made to the Samaritan Hospice, 5 Eves Drive, Suite 3090, Marlton, N.J. 08053..