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PALM LATITUDES

THE BIZ : Viva Vaudeville

October 17, 1993|Sondra Farrell Bazrod

If all you can do is balance a lawn mower on your head while a partner throws in a head of cabbage to make cole slaw, or play Bach with a piccolo in each nostril, you're out of luck. Vaudeville agent Coralie Jr. already has these acts among her 3,000 clients.

Just the other day, Coralie says she arranged a gig on a Hungarian talk show for Eugene Greytak, a Pope John Paul II look-alike, found work for Ruth Carlsson, who plays the xylophone by holding it over her head, spitting Ping-Pong balls onto it and catching them in her mouth, and submitted Tony Cox, a 3-foot-6 actor, for a role in an upcoming film.

Coralie, an agent since 1953, started the Coralie Jr. Theatrical Agency in North Hollywood after learning the ropes under two different agents. Her first clients were actors, but by the late 1960s, Coralie decided to help the ever-increasing numbers of out-of-work vaudevillians. "It was so sad," she says. "I decided to bring them back." She found jobs for her delighted clients, who are now in their 80s and 90s. "I feel if I didn't do this, they wouldn't get up in the morning," says Coralie. "They'd be in a rest home waiting to die."

Today her clients range from "mainstream types" to those with special talents, from the "very small to the very tall," from a 6-year-old actor to a woman of 101 who tap dances as she plays the piano. Contortionist April Tatro, whose gigs have included a "Candid Camera" episode in which she asks people to help her out of a duffel bag, says Coralie is "very protective of her talent and very honest."

"Not a person gets lost in this office," Coralie says. "I know every single one of them--writers, actors, specialty acts. They're my kids and I love them." All 3,000 of them.

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