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In 1935, the first year of radio network broadcasts of Major Bowes' Amateur Hour, more than thirty thousand acts auditioned for the talent contest program. One of the successful acts was the "Hoboken Four", Frank Sinatra, Fred Tamburro, Pat Principe, and James Petrozelli (aka “Tamby,” “Patty Prince,” and “Jimmy Petro” or “Skelly”). The vocal quartet auditioned as "Frank Sinatra and the 3 Flashes," but it was renamed, purportedly by Major Bowes himself. The act won the competition of the September 8 1935 broadcast and joined one of Major Bowes's traveling vaudeville units. Sinatra, who was 19 at the time, left the tour to strike out on his own.

The Library of Congress holds a copy of nearly every radio and television network broadcast of the Amateur Hour program, which ran until 1970, and every successful application form for contestants on the radio series. Other Amateur Hour performers represented in the collection who went on to achieve stardom include Robert Merrill, Regina Resnik, Beverly Sills, Gladys Knight, Pat Boone, Jack Carter, Dorothy Collins, and Ann-Margret. Many believe that Maria Callas appeared on the radio program, but research has not substantiated this rumor.



Library of Congress