Will Ahern (1896-1983)
William James Ahern was born in Waterbury, Connecticut on October 9th 1896. In 1909 Buffalo Bill's Wild West troupe, with Annie Oakley came to Waterbury and Will, only 13 at the time went down early in the morning and helped out feeding the horses and helping with the canvas tents. He told the head canvas guy that he was 16 and they offered him $18 a month to start work, so he left town with the show. He learned rope spinning whilst working with the show.
The war took Will into the navy in 1917, during this time he volunteered as an entertainer.
He left the navy after 40 weeks with the Bluebirds burlesque company. He was picked up by a booker for the Keith-Albee circuit shortly after and started doing Vaudeville comedy, song and dance routines. Four shows a day at the Rialto in Chicago. He also worked a midnight show at Ike Bloom's on 22nd street. This is where he met a very attractive chorus line girl named Gladys Reese.
Will & Gladys married and continued doing Vaudeville and also some Broadway musicals.
They tried their hand at acting during the 30's, mainly RKO studios shorts. They then teamed up and went on the road as a Cowboy rope spinning duo, traveling around the world and performing for the troops during the war. (They toured for a time with the Gene Autrey U.S.O. Unit in Saipan). They had a long fulfilling life on the circuit and kept busy in the entertainment industry in various ways until well into their 80's. (Will had a bit part in 'Hello Dolly' when he was 73 years old. in which he danced in the park with Barbara Streisand).
Will and Gladys lived out the rest of their days in Burbank California, where they opened The Rainbow dance studio at Hollywood & Yucca (near Vine) as a rehearsal space for both young and old talent.
Will died on May 16th 1983 at age 86 at St. Josephs hospital.
Gladys reunited the famous duo on the 12th of June 1992.
On the Rancho (1929)
A Vitaphone Short
One Year Later (1933)
- ? Gladys - Joyce Carewe
Will - 'Brownie' Brown. Gladys - Laoma
Torch Tango, A (1934)
Cinema Circus (1937) (uncredited)
Bit part, danced with Barbara Streisand in the park by the fountain scene (see picture at the bottom of the page).
Newspaper clipping from The Bridgeport Post, July 4th 1922.
Click on picture above for a larger view, note what was going on in Ireland at the time in the article to the left.
Will Ahern on the right
(Click picture above for a larger view)
Will (heavily made up) dancing with Barbara Streisand in Hello Dolly (1969)
Click on picture for a larger view.