The Keller Sisters and Lynch were a very popular vocal trio in the mid-1920’s through the early 1930’s. They
could be found as the vocalists with some of the great orchestras of the 1920’s - Jean Goldkette, Ben Selvin,
Ben Bernie, and Vincent Lopez just to name a few. The Keller Sisters and Lynch (KS&L) were the consummate
vaudeville performers of the 1920’s, each having started out at a very young age. KS&L appeared on the
vaudeville stage throughout their careers performing at various theaters and stage mostly in the
New York area.
In 1923 we find the Keller Sisters & Lynch introducing their "Spirit of Youth" act in New York and Washington, DC. A Variety review on August 23, 1923 notes that "they have one of the snappiest acts of its kind on the small time route..." and going on to say "...the girls are good lookers, harmonize well, dance a bit and later show themselves as accomplished musicians. The same goes for the chap working with them".
In 1924 the trio released their first record on Brunswick What’ll I Do?. This is one of their few recordings that feature the Keller’s vocalizing for the entire song instead of just a vocal refrain so prevalent in their later recordings.
In October 1926 and January 1927 the Keller Sisters and Lynch were featured in recording sessions with the
Jean Goldkette Orchestra. One recording from the October session stands out as the archetypical recording of
The Jazz Age -
(listen below). The song has all the elements of great Roarin’ Twenties music: some of the best all-time
session men like Bix Beiderbecke, Spiegle Wilcox, Frank Trumbauer, Joe Venuti, & Eddie Lang, and
the Keller trio offering up a few vo-doe-de-o-doe’s in the vocal refrain just for good measure. Although the
Keller’s make a brief appearence in this recording, it is their most famous performance on record.
As with most performing acts of the 1920’s, their career lasted only a short ten years or so into the 1930’s.
Veteran Boswell Sisters researcher David McCain shares these KS&L anecdotes with us:
Helvetia ("Vet") Boswell told me that she, Martha, and Connie were apprehensive about their London Palladium debut (this would have been July 1933) because they heard the Keller Sisters & Lynch had had things thrown at them there! Also, Vet let me see a funny telegram from Bing to the Boswell’s dated 1932. It’s addressed to "The Boswell Sisters and Lynch".
Here is a short biographical sketch of each. The Keller Sisters were not actually born with the surname of Keller, but Lynch.
Frank Lynch was in fact their brother. See Why Keller Sisters? below for explanation of the Keller Sisters name. The sisters were given similar names at each other’s birth - "Annie" for Nan and "Catherine" for Taddy - while their mother is named "Catherine" but later the spelling is "Kathryne". Adding to the sister’s name confusion is the various spellings of Catherine, Katherine, and Kathryne.
The Lynch Family
Father David J. Lynch was born 1875 in Alabama. He migrated his way to Chicago where he was a salesman in his early twenties. He married Catherine ("Kate", nee Anderson in 1879 in Wisconsin, Indiana, or Illinois) and produced the famous trio. The Lynch family moved to Philadelphia in the 1910’s. It was from here that the show business foundation was laid. David became a vaudeville performer of lesser renown than his offspring. It was most likely the father who nurtured his children onto the stage. David died on January 7, 1933 in New York. The Lynch family were devoted Catholics.
The oldest of the trio, Nan was born Annie Catherine Lynch (later "Anna" in the 1910’s) on March 16, 1900 in Chicago. Nan would have been in her early twenties when the Keller Sisters and Lynch act started performing in the early 1920’s. In later life she settled in Oklahoma City along with brother Frank and sister Taddy. She worked in the family radio broadcasting at radio station KBYE until her retirement in 1970. She was a member of American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT). She died on December 10, 1975 after an extended illness. Nan was survived by brother Frank. She is buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City. Nan never married having taken care of her mother most of her life. In the 1930’s Ed Sullivan writing in his "Broadway" column makes several subtle romantic references to Nan referring to her in one column as "having meet the nicest girl". Ed, it is said, was "sweet" on Nan but as best that can be determined, they never dated.
Born February 14, 1902 in Chicago. Starting his career also in his early twenties, Frank carried the family name through the act.
In 1926, he married former Paramount Junior star Berniece Leu (1907-1988) who had worked under the name Iris Grey. Frank is probably better remembered for his radio broadcasting career in the Mid-West states than his early career as a vaudeville performer. After ending the KS&L act in the 1930’s, Frank moved to Wichita, Kansas and in 1940 moved to Oklahoma City where he bought radio station KBYE in 1948. He later owned radio stations in Wichita, Tulsa, and Little Rock having stayed in the radio business until retirement in the 1960’s. Frank’s son Mike Lynch carried on the family radio business. The last surviving member of the Keller Sisters and Lynch trio, Frank J. Lynch died in Oklahoma City on September 30, 1992. He was survived by three sons and two daughters.
Frank is sometimes mistakenly referred to in various sources (ie, Brian Rust’s American Dance Band Discography 1917-1942) as "Al". Al Lynch who was an orchestra leader of the day and no relation to Frank.
Taddy (Lynch) Pettis
Born Catherine Ann Lynch February 6, 1909 in Chicago, Taddy (sometimes inaccurately referred to in the press as "Teddy") is the youngest of the trio. She started performing on the stage in her early teens. Taddy married dance band leader Jack Pettis in 1929. In the later years after performing Taddy and Jack Pettis moved to Oklahoma City around 1956 or 1957 along with brother Frank and sister Nan. She worked as an advertising manager of the local magazine Oklahoma City This Week for six years. At the time of her death Taddy worked as a sales manager for Century Printing Co. Taddy died on July 2, 1962 at the early age of 53. Obituaries list her as Mrs. John (Kathryn) Pettis. She was survived by her husband Jack, brother Frank, sister Nan, and a daughter, Barbara McClure of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Taddy is buried at Gethsemane Cemetery, New Hope, Minnesota.
"It was my understanding that Taddy was too young to legally perform on the stage so somehow they obtained "fake IDs" with the last name being Keller".
Also, from Jack Foster’s radio column in the New York World-Telegram, Friday, May 27, 1932:
Story of a Name
"The Keller Sisters and Lynch will introduce a WOR series on June 10,  and this recalls the manner in which this vaudeville team was named. Their real handle is Lynch and they are a brother and sisters. But several years ago, when they began trouping, one of the girls [Taddy] was so young that in every city they played the police moved to keep her from the stage. The situation became perilous and perplexing. By chance, they met a friend who had one of those grand ideas. He gave the young girl a forged birth certificate made out to an Ethel Keller, whom she immediately became, since Ethel Keller was of legal age. Whereupon the act grew into Ethel Keller and Her Chums. It was Duke Ellington who suggested the present title. And thereby gave me a paragraph."
In the Evening (Walter Donaldson) - with Arthur Johnston, piano (Brunswick 2608-B, March 27, 1924)
What’ll I Do? (Irving Berlin) - with orchestra (vocal arrangement by Arthur Johnston) (Brunswick 2608-A, April 11, 1924)
Where the Dreamy Wabash Flows (Cliff Friend-Abel Baer) - with orchestra (vocal arrangement and piano parts by Arthur Johnston) (Brunswick 2653-B, July 11, 1924)
Morning (Won’t You Come ’Round) (Turk-Silver) - with orchestra (vocal arrangement and piano parts by Arthur Johnston) (Brunswick 2653-A, July 25, 1924)
Only You And Lonely Me (Ray Klages-Jesse Greer) - Kensington Serenaders (Ben Selvin & His Orchestra) with The Vaudeville Trio (Vocalion B15365, May 26, 1926)
When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along (Harry Woods) - with Ben Selvin & His Orchestra (Brunswick 3213-B, June 2, 1926)
Roses (Britt-Tobias) - with Carl Fenton & His Orchestra (Brunswick 3217, June 2, 1926)
I Found A Roundabout Way To Heaven (De Costa-Richman-Silver) - with Carl Fenton & His Orchestra (Brunswick 3217, June 2, 1926)
I Love Her! (Robert Simon-Lewis Gensler) - with Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (Brunswick 3201-A, June 3, 1926)
Nobody Worries ’Bout Me (Sammy Lerner-Buddy Fields-Gerald Marks-Richard Whiting) - Glen Echo Serenaders, Vocal Chorus by The Vaudeville Trio (Vocalion A15427, August 26, 1926)
I’m Walking Around In Circles (Sam Lewis-Joe Young-Fred Phillips) - Glen Echo Serenaders, Vocal Chorus by The Vaudeville Trio (Vocalion B15427, August 26, 1926)
Meet Me In the Moonlight (Al Stillman-Will S Dillon-Val Ernie) - Kensington Serenaders (Ben Selvin & His Orchestra), Vocal Chorus by The Vaudeville Trio (Vocalion A15432, August 31, 1926)
Lay Me Down To Sleep in Carolina (Jack Yellen-Milton Ager) - Kensington Serenaders (Ben Selvin & His Orchestra), Vocal Chorus by The Vaudeville Trio (Vocalion B15432, August 31, 1926)
Petrushka (Billy Rose-Fred Fisher) - with Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (Brunswick 3308-A, September 7, 1926)
She’s Still My Baby (Willie Raskin-Sam Coslow-Little Jack Little) - with Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (Brunswick 3308-B, September 7, 1926)
She’s Still My Baby (Willie Raskin-Sam Coslow-Little Jack Little) - with Jay’s Chelsea Orchestra (Vocalion B15437, September 29, 1926)
I’m Forever Dreaming Of You (Johnstone) - with Willie Creager & His Orchestra (Gennett 3389, October 2, 1926)
Why Did You Say Goodbye? (Mack-Allen) - with Willie Creager & His Orchestra (Gennett 3389, October 2, 1926)
Just A Bird’s Eye View (Of My Old Kentucky Home) (Walter Donaldson-Gus Kahn) - with The Ipana Troubadours (Sam Lanin directing) (English Columbia 772-D, October 9, 1926)
Give Me A Ukelele (Lew Brown-Gene Williams) - with The Ipana Troubadours (Sam Lanin directing) (English Columbia 772-D, October 9, 1926)
Sunday [take 2] (Chester Cohn-Ned Miller-Jules Styne-Bennie Krueger) - with Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra (unissued Victor. Bix Restored, Vol. 1, Origin Jazz Library BXCD 01-03), take 2, October 15, 1926)
Sunday (Chester Cohn-Ned Miller-Jules Styne-Bennie Krueger) - with Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra (Victor 20273-B, take 3, October 15, 1926)
Just One More Kiss [take 2] (Harry Owens-Reggie Montgomery) - Frank Lynch, vocal, with Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra (unissued Victor, mx. 36831-2, October 15, 1926)
Just One More Kiss [take 4] (Harry Owens-Reggie Montgomery) - Frank Lynch, vocal, with Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra (Victor 20300-B, mx. 36831-4, October 15, 1926)
Just A Little Longer (Irving Berlin) - with Willie Creager’s Rhythm Aces (Gennett 3404-A, October 19, 1926)
Just A Little Longer (alternate take) (Irving Berlin) - with Willie Creager & His Orchestra (Gennett 3404, October 19, 1926)
Don’t Sing Aloha When I Go (Walter Smith-Ben Black-Charles N. Daniels as Neil Moret) - with Willie Creager’s Rhythm Aces (Gennett 3404-B, October 19, 1926)
Hello, Bluebird (Cliff Friend) - with Vincent Lopez & His Casa Lopez Orchestra (Brunswick 3368, December 6, 1926)
I’m On My Way Home (Irving Berlin) - with Vincent Lopez & His Casa Lopez Orchestra (Brunswick 3368, December 6, 1926)
Proud Of A Baby Like You [take 1] (alternate take 1) (Chris Schoenberg-Leonard Stevens-Paul Helmick) - with Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra (unissued Victor, take 1, January 28, 1927)
Proud Of A Baby Like You [take 4] (Chris Schoenberg-Leonard Stevens-Paul Helmick) - with Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra (Victor 20469-B, take 4, January 28, 1927)
Nesting Time (Monaco-Dixon) - with Charley Straight & His Orchestra (as "The Tuxedo Orchestra") (Brunswick 3516, March 31, 1927)
Side By Side (Harry Woods) - with Charley Straight & His Orchestra (as "The Tuxedo Orchestra") (Brunswick 3516, March 31, 1927)
A Lane In Spain (Carmen Lombardo-Al Lewis) - with Vincent Lopez & His Casa Lopez Orchestra (Brunswick 3517-A, April 9, 1927)
I’ll Just Go Along (Gus Kahn-Ted Fiorito) - with Vincent Lopez & His Casa Lopez Orchestra (Brunswick 3517-B, April 9, 1927)
Red Lips, Kiss My Blues Away (James Monaco-Pete Wendling-Alfred Bryan) - (Rube Bloom, piano) (Perfect 12344, c. May 1927)
Hallelujah (Vincent Youmans-Leo Robin-Clifford Grey) - (Apex 8620-B, May, 1927)
Me And My Shadow (Dave Dreyer-Al Jolson-Billy Rose) - with piano accompaniment (Apex 8620-A, May, 1927)
Sweet Someone (Waggner-Keyes) - Park Lane Orchestra vocal Frank Lynch (Brunswick 3578, Vocalion 15588, June 6, 1927)
Do You Love Me? (When Skies Are Grey) (Rube Wolf-Billy Merrick) - Park Lane Orchestra vocal Frank Lynch (Brunswick 3578, Vocalion 15589, June 6, 1927)
Somebody And Me! (Raymond Klages-Ernie Golden) - with Ernie Golden & His Hotel McAlpin Orchestra (Brunswick 3586, June 10, 1927)
Let’s Make Believe (Harry Harris-Larry Shay) - with Ernie Golden & His Hotel McAlpin Orchestra (Brunswick 3586, June 10, 1927)
When Day Is Done (Stephen Ballantine-Bud De Sylva-Dr. Robert Katscher) - Frank Lynch, vocal, Rube Bloom, piano, acc. By Eddie Lang, with Art Kahn (OKeh 40857, mx81108-A, June 24, 1927)
Sometimes I’m Happy (Vincent Youmans-Irving Caesar) - Frank Lynch, vocal, with Art Kahn (OKeh 40857, June 27, 1927)
No Wonder I’m Happy (My Baby’s In Love With Me) (Benny Davis-Harry Askst) - Frank Lynch, vocal, with Ernie Golden & Hotel McAlpin Orchestra (Brunswick 3604, July 7, 1927)
Together We Two (Irving Berlin) - Keller Sisters, vocals, with Isham Jones’ Orchestra (Brunswick 3685, October 18, 1927)
Maybe This Is Love (Bud De Sylva-Lew Brown-Ray Henderson) - Cloyd Griswald, vocal, Keller Sisters & Brother Lynch, background vocals, with Benson All Star Orchestra (Columbia 1648-D, November 17, 1928)
Keller Sisters and Lynch Film Shorts
Metro Movietone Act 1 reel
March 30, 1929
"Doin’ The Racoon" "What a Night for Spoonin’" "Where’d You Get Those Eyes"
Girls nice looking and whole act clings to a class level.
Metro Movietone Act No. 88 1 reel
October 5, 1929
"How D’Ya Do?" "I’m Ka-razy for You" "If I Had You"
Lacks punch and seems tedious at times.
"Bits of Broadway" Metro Movietone Act No. ? 1 reel
October ?, 1929
Irving Berlin’s "Yasha Michaeloffsky"
A pleasing variety group of moderate strength.
Vitaphone Billboard Release 1926
"Why Did We Have to Grow Up?" "Nagasaki" "Lulu’s Back in Town"
Cast includes: Liazeed Arabs, Jane & Katherine Lee, Keller Sisters & Lynch, Joe Peanuts.