Scrapbooks of Danny Brown
Co-Founder of the Jewel Box Revue and Clubs
In early 2010 I was gifted with two scrapbooks that had been owned by Danny Brown's nephew. He had found my website and wanted them to have a good home. Of course I was delighted. It took a bit of work going through them, scanning the oversize pages and researching and studying them, but I ended up uploading 200 images, most with more than one clipping per page, onto 14 new pages of my site.
Label says "Danny Brown and His Original All Male Revue, Glorifying the American Boy"
Clubs in Miami Hotels
Jewel Box Revue
The Jewel Box History
There is a lot of fuzzy history surrounding the Jewel Box Revue. The program itself (circa 1946) from the Club Jewel Box in Miami says right off "Danny and Doc's Jewel Box was created by Danny Brown and Doc Benner in 1939 in Miami Beach, Florida." My research indicates this is not strictly correct. From clippings in the scrapbooks and internet research the Tampa Club was in business from the Fall of 1942 until early 1946, and the Miami club operated from early 1946 through late 1950. I have ads from 1951 and 1952 that say "Direct from Miami, Fla" that hint at another Miami club but I have been unable to verify that; that line in the ads could have also been hype or they could have had a mailing address for business purposes without an actual club.
In the early years Danny Brown was an emcee of many shows at various clubs, before they were billed as "his" shows. This was roughly 1935 and 1936. In 1937 the ads began regularly billing the shows as his, such as "Danny Brown & His Greenwich Village Playboy Revue" or "Danny Brown's Gay Boy Revue." Here's a sampling of some of the names:
Boy Girl Revue"
I found ads that I could "date" running through 1940, and in none of them was there any mention of Doc Benner. A program I have for the Club Jewel Box, Miami, says they took their first tour out in 1937. It appears Doc was more behind the scenes at first. Doc's given name was Frank W. Benner.
the pre-Jewel Box Revue shows, many of the same performers starred
in the shows in this period, with these names most common:
I found verification (not in the scrapbooks, but on the net) that Danny & Doc ran clubs called The Jewel Box in two Miami Hotels. The starting point is speculative for the first one. The Embassy Hotel in Miami (Collins Ave & 30th St) opened their "Jewel Box cocktail lounge" in December of 1936. It got good reviews in the newspaper and featured the Bob Rainier Trio as entertainment at least through the end of 1939. The first mention that Danny & Doc were involved with this club was in a May 1940 clipping. As in the later Tampa and Miami clubs, no female impersonation entertainment was mentioned at all. Between August and December of 1941 the club moved from the Embassy Hotel to the Fleetwood Hotel (West Ave). Sometime between April and August 1942 they had moved to Tampa.
The Jewel Box Club in Tampa was open at least by the Fall of 1942, and was billed from the start as "Danny & Don's Jewel Box Club." I place the end of that club at early 1949 due to an article from that time mentioning Danny as "former owner of a club in Tampa." As there were licensing and zoning lawsuits surrounding the Miami club, at least at the 512 NE 15th St address, articles limit that operation from 1946 to late 1950, when Danny lost a zoning lawsuit to continue in that location. I found no reference to another club address in Miami (or anywhere) after that.
One further history discrepancy I found is the "official" time span that their touring company used the name Jewel Box Revue. Their programs all say "The first Jewel Box Revue was co-produced in 1939 by Danny Brown and Doc Benner." I think this was written more as a public relations/show business generalization...and I understand that reasoning. It would be much harder to explain that that they had a number of touring companies with a variety of name from 1939 through the end of the 1940's. The Jewel Box Club, in Tampa, did not open until the Fall of 1942, and both in the scrapbooks and my internet research of old newspaper ads, I found no ads that use the actual name "Jewel Box Revue" prior to 1950. So, it's odd, the clubs operated from 1942 through 1950, but no ads referring to the Jewel Box Revue until mid-1950. I would be delighted if someone can provide me an ad to prove this research wrong.
I've got this 22x28 poster framed, from a Baltimore engagement, 1959
with the scrapbooks was a very cool canvas chair back. I'm told it
above to find the JBR Programs