Tony Reese papers

Collection 3719

( Bulk, 1955-1970 ) 1946-2013
(4.1 Linear feet ; 11 boxes, 1 flat file)

Summary Information

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Reese, Tony, 1919-2013.
Tony Reese papers
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1955-1970
Date [inclusive]
4.1 Linear feet ; 11 boxes, 1 flat file
Finding aid prepared by Cary Hutto.
Processing made possible by a generous donation from Francine Reese.
Mixed materials [Box]
Tony Reese, born Attilio Resci in Foggia, Italy in 1919, was a popular performer both in Philadelphia and nationally. He was raised in South Philadelphia, attended South Philadelphia High School, and served with the U. S. Army during World War II. He developed a partnership and comedy act with Pepper Davis, whose real name was David Asner, and the duo performed across the United States and Canada. Together they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and other televised variety shows of the mid 20th century. They also performed overseas and gave a command performance for Prince Ranier and Princess Grace of Monaco. Reese died in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in 2013. This collection of Reese's papers mostly covers his career as a performer and includes numerous transcripts of comedy routines, clippings and programs, and musical arrangements. There are also a few personal papers including his obituary, biographical material, photographs, and audio-visual items.

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Tony Reese papers (Collection 3719), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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Background note

Tony Reese was a popular performer both in Philadelphia and nationally. He was born Attilio Resci in Troia, Foggia, Italy, in 1919 to Giusseppe and Vincenza Recsi. At the age of seven, he and his family, including his mother, grandmother, sisters Edith and Rose, and brother Corradino, emigrated from Italy to Philadelphia where they settled in the southern portion of the city. He attended John Wayne Grammar School, Audenreid Junior High School, and South Philadelphia High School. For a short time he worked for a local optician, but he entered the U. S. Army at the start of World War II. He attained the rank of sergeant, served in the Pacific Campaign, and received a Bronze Star and Victory Medal in the Medical Corps.

Reese returned to Philadelphia upon being discharged from military service. He found work as an entertainer in local clubs. In Wildwood, New Jersey, he met fellow entertainer Pepper Davis. Davis’s original name was David Asner. He was from Baltimore and entered show business at a young age. Upon recommendation from a friend, Reese and Davis performed together.

Davis and Reese stuck together and became a very popular comedy team that performed nationally and internationally throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In addition to appearing at venues in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, they toured the U. S. for an extended run of shows, gave a command performance for Prince Ranier and Princess Grace of Monaco, and performed at the Palladium in London, England, for a year. The duo also made numerous television appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, the  Steve Allen Show,  The Tonight Show, and the  Dean Martin Show. Additionally, they appeared as themselves in  The George Raft Story (1951) and  Where the Boys Meet the Girls (1965). Another highlight of their career was as headliners in “Hello America,” a stage production based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

After twenty-three years together, Reese and Davis decided to part ways. Davis went on to pursue a film career while Tony Reese returned to Philadelphia. He met and eventually married Francine Cirincione. He also teamed up with another performer named Pasquale D’Orio. Together as Pasquale and Reese they performed together for several decades at a number of local establishments.

Reese died in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in January 2013. He is buried at Cherry Hill's Locustwood Memorial Park.

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Scope and content note

The Tony Reese papers are housed in eleven boxes and span the bulk of Reese's career as a professor entertainer. While the collection dates from the 1950s to 2000s, it's centered on the earlier part of Reese’s career from the late 1950s to the late 1960s and his work with Pepper Davis as the comedy duo Davis and Reese. Comprising the bulk of the collection are files on comedy routines, which contain scattered correspondence and musical arrangements for songs used during their acts. There are also programs and advertisements for Davis and Reese’s shows, as well as some photographs of the duo and of Reese himself. Save for biographical items and obituaries, there are no papers in the collection that significantly document Reese’s personal life.

The collection has been divided into two series. The first series, Comedy routines and personal papers (Boxes 1-4 & 11 and Flat File 1), contains professional biographies on Davis and Reese used for press releases, press photographs of the duo in action as well as single and group headshots, and a group of telegrams Reese received when he was on the road during the 1950s and 1960s (Box 1, Folders 1-4). Making up most of this series are comedy routines, which are subdivided into those written by the duo (Box 1, Folders 8-14) and those written by others for them (Box 2, Folders 1-29). Each folder is identified by the titles of the skits it contains. The scripts are usually typed, though some are handwritten, and many contain annotations, corrections, and other edits. Some of the folders of routines written by other authors contain letters to Reese. Please be advised that a number of the comedy routines contain mature themes that some readers may find offensive, including sexual innuendo, drug references, and stereotypical portrayals of women and various ethnic groups.

Comprising the remainder of Box 2 and Boxes 3 and 4 are chronologically arranged folders that house programs and advertisements featuring David and Reese. These date from the 1950s to the 1990s. Posters of a similar nature can be found in Flat File 1. At the end of the series is a box (Box 11) containing audio-visual items that include comedy and song recordings, as well as two movies on DVD that featured Pepper and Reese: The George Raft Story (1961) and  Where the Boys Meet the Girls (1965)

The second series, Musical arrangements (Boxes 5-10), is comprised of handwritten or printed music that was either sung by Reese and/or Davis or used to accompany their performances. Scattered among the arrangements are a few published pieces of music. This portion of the collection is arranged alphabetically by song title.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2014

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Access restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use restrictions

Copyright may apply to some of the materials in the collection, especially the published music, movies, and recordings. Please contact HSP's Rights and Reproduction department for questions concerning the use of potentially copyrighted items.


Gift of Francine Reese, 2013.

Accession number 2013.095.

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Related Materials

Related materials

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

Rose Quong papers, 1923-1973 (MSS132)

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Las Vegas (Nev.)--Social life and customs--20th century.


  • Comedians--United States--Biography.
  • Comedians--United States--History--20th century.
  • Comedians--United States.
  • Entertainers--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.
  • Entertainers--United States--History--20th century.

Personal Name(s)

  • Davis, Pepper, 1923-1990.
  • Reese, Francine.

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Collection Inventory

 Series 1. Comedy routines and personal papers 

Box Folder

Biographical material 1996, undated 

1 1

Obituary and memorial 2013 

1 2

Photographs circa 1960-circa 1980 

1 3

Telegrams 1955-1966 

1 4

Routines - "$64,000 Question," "Fred Hack Amateur Hour," "The Shirley Bit," "Pot Commercial," "Peter Minuet and Chief White Cloud," "Jean Claude Schwartz" 

1 5

Routines - "Gimme a Dame Who's Dressed," "Catman," "Butler Sketch," "Benito" undated 

1 6

Routines - "David & Goliath," "Roulette Blades," "Moon Crossovers," "Astrology Routine," "Wildwood Seniors" undated 

1 7

Routines - "Sportscaster," "Olympic Torch Runner," "American Bit," "Good Times," "The Shirley Bit," Miscellaneous pieces, "Bullfight Bit," "The Airline Pilot," "Fighter Bit" undated 

1 8

Routines - "Sherlock Holmes," "Mike Malice Interview," "I Can Do Better," "Animal Psychiatry," "Olympic Torch Runner" undated 

1 9

Routines - "Washington and Cornwallis," "Valuable Bull," "Danger--Author at Work," "Dale and Jack Routines," "Touche" undated 

1 10

Routines - "Work Session with Corbett Monica," "The Magnificent Flying Fools," "Wright Bros.," "Used Car Salesman," "Crazy House," "Texas" undated 

1 11

Routines - Impressions, Openings/lead-ins/thank yous, "Calypso," "Insurance Salesman," "Intro to Drum Solo," "Pantomine" undated 

1 12

Routines - The Ed Sullivan Show undated 

1 13

Routines - The Dinah Shore Show undated 

1 14

Morey Anderson 2012, undated 

1 1

Arnold M. Auerbach - "I'll Take the Check" 2012, undated 

2 2

John Barbour undated 

2 3

Jack Borden and Mort Dean - "Slumlord Bit" 1964, undated 

2 4

Joey Carter - "The Newsboy," "Evolution of Rhythm" undated 

2 5

Dee Caruso - "Prison Piece," "Bobo Helinsky" 1962, undated 

2 6

Eli Cass - "The World's Greatest Insurance Salesman" undated 

2 7

Irv Cohen 1958 

2 8

Dick Curtis - "Man on the Street Bit" 1954, undated 

2 9

Eddie Davis - "The Break" (special material for Louis Prima and Rocky Graziano) undated 

2 10

Phil Davis - "Astronuts" (pilot script), "The Chosen Two" 1961, undated 

2 11

Stanley Davis - "White House Chef Interview" 2012, undated 

2 12

Hal Fimberg - "Song Bit," "Convict Sketch" 2012, undated 

2 13

Bruce Howard - "The Lemon" 2012, undated 

2 14

Sheldon Keller - "Roller Skating Sketch" 1965, 2012 

2 15

Saul Loeb - "Two-Man Astronaut Routine," "Adam" undated 

2 16

Bill Majeski - "Animal Psychiatrist" undated 

2 17

Jerry Mayer - "American Indian Athlete," "Ethiopian, " "The Pole Vaulter from Egypt," Misc. Indian routine 2012, undated 

2 18

Bob McCowell undated 

2 19

Victor Melore - routine used in The George Raft Story 1961 

2 20

Sidney Miller - "Musical Bond" 2012, undated 

2 21

Jerry Portner and Ron Clark - "Golf Bit" 2012, undated 

2 22

Milt Rosen - "Duke Costanza" 2012, undated 

2 23

Michael Ross and Bernie West - "The Art Western," "Who Can Eat," "Davis & Reese Routine" 2012, undated 

2 25

Howard J. Tedder undated 

2 26

Kay Thompson - "We're a Couple of Gentlemen" 1955, 2012, undated 

2 27

Harry Wilinsky undated 

2 28

Jerry Winnick - "People in the Know," "Hollywood and the Movies, "The Olympic Skier," "People in the News," "Jokes" 2012, undated 

2 29

Program line-ups undated 

2 30

Programs and advertisements 1953-1956 

2 31-34

Programs and advertisements 1957, 1959-1965 

3 1-14

Programs and advertisements 1966-1970, 1972-1973, 1980, 1995, undated 

4 1-11

"Classic Club" program [St. Francis Hospital Celebrity Golf Classic] circa 1987 

10 19

Posters 1960, undated 

Flat file 1

Audio-visual items 1961, 1965, 1969, 1977, undated 

Box inventory

Phonographic record (33 1/3 RPM): The Comedy World of Pepper Davis and Tony Reese (1969)

Phonographic record (45 RPM): "Just About This Time Tomorrow"/"Lesson in Love" (undated) [3 copies]

Phonographic record (45 RPM): "The Roots of My Name"/"Theme for a Woman" (1977)

DVD: The George Raft Story (1961)

DVD: When the Boys Meet the Girls (1965)

CD: The Comedy World of Pepper Davis and Tony Reese (LP to CD transfer, 2009)


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 Series 2. Musical arrangements 

Box Folder

Cue sheets undated 

5 1

"Affair Medley" undated 

5 2

"Ain't We Got Fun" circa 1951 

5 3

"Ann" undated 

5 4

"April Showers" undated 

5 5

"Astrology" undated 

5 6

"Baby Won't You Please Come Home" 1946, undated 

5 7

"Battle Hymn Medley" undated 

5 8

"Because of You" undated 

5 9

"Begin the Beguine" undated 

5 10

"Big Fat World" undated 

5 11

"Bill Bailey" 1954 

5 12

"Birth of the Blues" undated 

5 13

"Bows" undated 

5 14

"C & W Medley" undated 

5 15

"Cabaret" undated 

5 16

"Calla Calla" undated 

5 17

"Cha Cha Cha" undated 

5 18

"Chicago" undated 

5 19

"Come Rain Come Shine" undated 

6 1

"Confessin'" undated 

6 2

"Dames" undated 

6 3

"Did I Ever Really Live?" 1966-1967, undated 

6 4

"Didn't We" undated 

6 5

"Don't Worry About Me" 1954, undated 

6 6

"Drum Dance Routine" undated 

6 7

"Ebbtide" undated 

6 8

"Feet" undated 

6 9

"Fighter" 1953, undated 

6 10

"Foggy Day" undated 

6 11

"Fools Rush In" undated 

6 12

"For Once in My life" 1965 

6 13

"Friends" 1961 

7 1

"Get Happy" undated 

7 2

"Girls" undated 

7 3

"Gonna Live Till I Die" 1952 

7 4

"Good Times" undated 

7 5

"He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother" undated 

7 6

"I Believe in Music" undated 

7 7

"I Can Give You Anything But Love" undated 

7 8

"If" undated 

7 9

"If He Walked into My Life" undated 

7 10

"The Impossible Dream" undated 

7 11

"It All Depends on You" undated 

7 12

"It's Great to be Back" [From The George Raft Story] circa 1961 

7 13

"I've Got My Love" undated 

7 14

"I've Got to be Me" undated 

7 15

"The Lady's in Love with Me" undated 

7 16

"Just Say I Love Her" undated 

7 17

"Leroy Brown" undated 

7 17

"Learning the Blues" undated 

7 18

"Let Me Try Again" undated 

7 19

"A Lot of Livin' To Do" undated 

8 1

"Love for Sale" 1948, undated 

8 2

"Love is a Many Splendored Thing" undated 

8 3

"Make 'Em Laugh" 1974, undated 

8 4

"Mala Femmena" undated 

8 5

Marlboro commercial undated 

8 6

"Mammy" undated 

8 7

Mills Brothers spots undated 

8 8

"Mr. Bojangles" undated 

8 9

"A Musical Revue" undated 

8 10

"My Way" 1966, undated 

8 11

"Never Make Eyes" undated 

8 12

"Newley Medley" undated 

8 13

"Old Man River" 1958, undated 

8 14

"One For My Baby" undated 

8 15

"Oogie's Bows" undated 

8 16

Openers undated 

8 17

Prisoner bit undated 

8 18

"Rainy Day" undated 

8 19

"Record Song" undated 

9 1

"Rock-A-Bye" undated 

9 2

"Rock & Roll" undated 

9 3

"Row Row Row" undated 

9 4

"Shadow of Your Smile" undated 

9 5

Silent Movie bit undated 

9 6

"Sitting on the World" undated 

9 7

"$64,000 Question" undated 

9 8

"Some of These Days" undated 

9 9

"Sometimes I'm Happy" undated 

9 11

Sponsor routine undated 

9 11

"Strike Up the Band" undated 

10 1

"Sweet Caroline" undated 

10 2

"Tea for Two" undated 

10 3

"The Way We Were" undated 

10 4

"This is My Life" undated 

10 5

"Time of Your Life" undated 

10 6

"Turntable" undated 

10 7

"Two Gentleman" undated 

10 8

"Vaudeville" undated 

10 9

"Walk Alone" undated 

10 10

"West Side Story" undated 

10 11

"What's Next?" undated 

10 12

"What Now My Love" undated 

10 13

"When You're Smiling" undated 

10 14

"Wonderful Day" undated 

10 15

"Wrap Your Troubles" 1954, undated 

10 16

"You are the Sunshine of My Love" undated 

10 17

"You're Nobody Till" undated 

10 18

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