Biography of James Geddry
Stage Name…Jim Jedry & Little Eddie Kelly



James Geddry, known to his friends as “Jimmy”, was born on October 4th, 1906 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jimmy was the eleventh of twelve children born to an Irish mother and a French Canadian father.

The name Geddry is a name still found in Nova Scotia, where Jimmy’s ancestors emigrated in the 17th century. His Great-Great Grandfather, Augustin Geddry, is known in Nova Scotia as a hero of the French and Indian War. He escaped deportation by the English military by jumping overboard from a prison ship in 1755, swimming ashore, and living amongst the Mic-Maq Indians for eight years. He was granted land as part of reparations mandated by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Later, in 1787, Augustin founded the Nova Scotia town of Saint Alphonse, where today there is a monument with a plaque bearing his name.

Despite his Canadian ancestry, Jimmy was brought up, mainly, by his Irish Mother, who imbued him with the values that would guide him for the rest of his life. His mother, Mary Powers, was a hardworking woman who was determined that her children would escape the poverty of the early twentieth century and the depression that followed. She was successful in her endeavor and lived to see one of her children become Superintendent (CEO) of the Watertown Arsenal, where big naval guns were designed for the great behemoths of WWII. She also saw her youngest living child, Jimmy, become a successful Vaudevillian. “Jim Jedrey and Little Eddie Kelly” were fixtures in the Boston area and regularly appeared throughout New England and other parts of the United States. Besides “Eddie”, Jimmy owned five other “Vent” Dolls and used several in his act.

Jimmy had many skills besides ventriloquism. Though he had only an eighth grade education, he taught himself to play the piano as a teenager, somehow learned to play saxophone and actually played in a 1920’s “Jazz” band. In his later years he was lead singer in the quartet “The Sun City Four” and remained a member of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQA) until he died.

Jimmy was an expert Machinist and Parts Inspector and was employed by his brother at the Watertown Arsenal when he wasn’t on tour. He used to brag that he was so good at his job that it was kept waiting for him when he came back from a tour that had lasted nearly two years. Of course, his brother was the “big boss”. Jimmy was also an expert stock-picker and had moderate success in “the market” after the crash of 1929. He claimed he purchased small amounts of crippled blue chip stocks each week with a dollar from his salary. He must have done something right as he was able to retire in Arizona at the “young” age of fifty seven, an unusual feat in the 1960s.

During his travels, Jimmy and his beautiful wife Florence Yannis, whom he married in 1939, came into contact with and became close friends of Senor Wences, the ventriloquist known for his hand puppetry on the long running “Ed Sullivan Show”. Jimmy and Florence traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and Cuba before the embargo. They never had children but stayed together in a loving relationship until Florence’s death in 1987. Jimmy died in 2002, on Saint Patrick’s Day at the age of ninety-five.

Bernard Geddry, Jimmy’s Nephew, and his wife Barbara, his best friends, took care of Jimmy in his last years and now own his collection of Vent Dolls and Vaudeville memorabilia.


 

Click Here to see Little Eddie #2

 

 
 

 

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