Carroll Wallace (September 20, 1923 - 1993), born Francois Weirdt, was a performer who sold his image as an elegant lady. A class act, he soon rose to the role of emcee on the stage and “mothered” some of the younger performers off-stage. He enjoyed “rapping” (chatting) with audiences and relating funny stories, presenting himself as an elegant lady on stage, emceeing and doing comedy patter. He had a trademark song: “I’m a Singer though I Haven’t Got a Voice,” which had been written especially for him.
Carroll Wallace was born François Weirdt, in 1923 in Chicago. Little Francois Weirdt was running an elevator for $18 a week in the Congress Hotel back in 1941 paying for comedy lessons on the side at the Goodman Theater of the Arts. A man from Hollywood got in his lift and recognized him from the Goodman Theater and asked him “How would you like to go to Warner Bros on a stock contract for $125 a week?” He landed the contract and a few bit roles. He played a German sailor in a film called “Two-Man Submarine" with Tom Neal and Ann Savage. He was an extra in “The Corn Is Green” with Bette Davis. Then Warner Bros went on strike and he took a temporary job at Jack’s of Hollywood Costume Co. It was somewhere in the backrooms of the costume company that his film career ended and his drag life began. “It was all a mistake” Wallace said “There was a masquerade party one night and some of the girls at Jack’s thought since I was young blond and good-looking they’d dress me up like a girl and send me to it. Some of the people from the studio were there and saw me. Maybe that was it — that kind of thing was really frowned on in those days — or maybe I was on the wrong side in the strike. I don’t know to this day. But when the strike was over I never got my contract back."
That is when a nightclub entrepreneur named Earl Carroll came on the scene. Wallace said “You know Earl Carroll, the first man to put a girl in a champagne glass. A very famous guy, Earl Carroll Vanities? He saw me and that was it.” The nightclub promoter took his own last name and the maiden name of his wife, Berle Wallace, and created a new personality for the billboards: “Carroll Wallace — The World’s Most Beautiful Boy.” He was one of the few impersonators still wearing glue-on lace human hair wigs, which were styled in a French Twist. He also parodied Sophie Tucker at times.
He was married to Ruth Hamberlin for many years until she passed away in the early 1980's. Wallace and his wife had two children but both died in infancy. Most people who saw him sashaying across the stage each night figured he was gay. “I’m not, I’m a comedian, I’m a pro. If someone knows who they are and what they are themselves then these kind of labels don’t bother them, I see these guys sitting at the tables in the club night after night trying to be macho turning down their noses. They say ‘queer’ and ‘fag’ but they are really worried about themselves." Wallace met his wife one night in 1950 right after a performance. She’d seen him on stage and had invited him to her table. Since then he said she’s had to wave off other admirers “One night she was in the audience and this guy in front of her kept saying ‘That’s for me!’ Someone told him I was a man but the guy said he didn’t care. About then my wife tapped him on the shoulder and said ‘You’re a little late.”
In the 1970s Wallace lived in a row house in San Francisco's Sunset District which was awash with remnants of the time when Wallace was big stuff in Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur.
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