Finocchio's, 506 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133
Walter Hart ( 1901 – September 1, 1978) was a top attraction at Finocchio's in San Francisco for more than 20 years. British-born Hart began his career as a male impersonator at Finocchio's in 1933. He was billed as a male Sophie Tucker.
In addition to Nicki Gallucci, Finocchio's has Big Timers Ray Bourbon and Karyl Norman, and the regular cast of famed impersonators: Jackie Maye, Freddy Renault, Walter Hart, and Frank Doran. Walter Hart, called the “blond bombshell of song,” performed Sophie Tucker at Finocchio’s, much to Sophie’s delight. She gave him many of the gowns and furs he wore and never failed to catch his show when in the city. He began his career at Finocchio’s. Herb Caen wrote, “Footnotes on Headliners: After 15 solid years on the job, Entertainer Walter Hart is out of Finocchio’s, on acct. some verbal twanging with Mrs. F. That’s sort of like the last ferry leaving the Ferry Bldg.” Hart moved on for a run at the Tivoli with Nick Gallucci.
When he died in 1978, Walter Hart only received a three-line obituary per Herb Caen: “One of the best of Finocchio’s female mpersonators, Walter’s heyday was just before and after World War II, when he wowed the wide-eyed ones from Wherever with his campy (but never vulgar) naughtiness. In those days of long nights, he was bigger than Charles Pierce [noted female impersonator] and Nancy Bleiweiss [Beach Blanket Babylon] put together today, an odd thought. Everybody in town knew Walter Hart. Once.”
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