Kathryn H. Trado, Singer in Vaudeville

Camden Courier-Post - June 20, 1933. Kay Hamilton -- Camden songbird who attracted attention of Movieland.

Philadelphia Inquirer – March 24, 1998

By S. Joseph Hagenmayer, Inquirer Correspondent.

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.

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