Jan. 17, 1941: Hundreds filled the Masonic Temple on a Friday night to listen and dance to the big-band sound of Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra.
In addition to the orchestra, the night also featured performances by a young New Jersey crooner named Frank Sinatra, singer and actress Connie Haines, drummer Buddy Rich, trumpeter Ziggy Elman and the singing group the Pied Pipers.
The show in Scranton came on the heels of Dorsey and his group’s four-week booking at the Paramount Theater in New York City. The music started at 7:30 p.m. and went until 1 a.m. Tickets for the star-filled night cost just $1.
Following their performance in Scranton, the singers and musicians headed to Quantico, Virginia, for a performance at the Marine Corps base on Jan. 18. This performance was the start of a tour of military bases on the East Coast.
Months later, Dorsey, Sinatra and the rest of the group returned to Northeast Pennsylvania for a performance at Fernbrook Park in Dallas on May 18.
Dorsey was no stranger to Scranton. He and his brother, Jimmy, were born in Shenandoah in the early days of the 20th century. The brothers made their way to Scranton and, in 1921, formed a band, Wild Canaries, that played at the Poli Theater on Wyoming Avenue. Later, the brothers joined the Scranton Sirens, a big-band group fronted by Billy Lustig. Another future big-band leader, Russ Morgan, also was in the Sirens with the Dorsey brothers.
The Dorseys eventually left the Sirens and joined different groups before forming their own separate orchestras in 1936.
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Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast