The National Guard Review was a big show in Jamestown in November of 1959. Not only did they crown a new Jamestown National Guard Queen, they featured some regional entertainment.
Jo Englebretson was a freshman at Jamestown College, now known as the University of Jamestown, studying “secretarial courses” according to The Jamestown Sun.
Not sure they offer a secretarial course anymore but it was probably popular back in 1959.
Englebretson beat out 13 other contestants for the honor of Jamestown National Guard Queen with the rights to move on to state and even national competition. The crown was placed on her head by Sharon Olsen, a Hillman, Minn., native who was the national Miss National Guard.
The crowning of the local Miss National Guard was likely the highlight of the show and a photo of the event was featured prominently on the front page of The Jamestown Sun.
But it would seem the entertainment was pretty good too and came from around the country.
Gerry Lamm played the xylophone and Harry Todd and his Toddlers, they had to think hard to come up with that name, provided the musical entertainment.
Jack Pyle did a magic act and served as master of ceremonies. Little information remains about Pyle’s magic act but biographies of him available on the internet note he turned to show business after being a general in the U.S. Army during World War II.
But it was the show’s comedian that seemed to draw the most attention.
Harry “King” Cole, not to be confused with Nat King Cole, “stole the show with his wit, drawing laughter from the patrons with wisecracks and impersonations,” according to The Sun report on the event.
Cole explained he did not impersonate famous people but preferred to mimic people nobody had ever heard of.
“It’s so much simpler that way,” he was reported as saying.
I suppose a comedy act that relied on impersonations of people no one had ever heard of could have faded from entertainment history.
Harry King Cole actually had a long career and ultimately ended up as a regular on a long-running television show.
Cole is better known as “Weepin’ Willie,” a character in 45 episodes of the "Hee Haw" variety show.
Weepin’ Willie was often seen on a porch of a shack, holding a jug of moonshine and lamenting the misery and bad luck of his life.
Phrases like “Gloom, despair and agony on me” and “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all” are associated with the comedy routines.
"Hee Haw" didn’t premiere until 1972 so Cole, or Weepin’ Willie if you prefer, was still a dozen years away from playing that part when he put on a show in Jamestown doing impersonations of people nobody ever heard of.