Eyewitness To History: The Dorsey Brothers

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SHENANDOAH, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — With 27 number one hits, the Dorsey Brothers will forever be a part of music history.

Jimmy and Tommy were born in Schuylkill County, and went on to worldwide fame.

Jimmy played the saxophone and was born in Shenandoah in 1904. Tommy was born in Mahanoy Plane one year later. A perfectionist, he mastered the trombone.

“To know that they came from the Shenandoah area and became this musical phenomenon, it is pretty neat,” said Diana Prosymchak, executive director of the Schuylkill County Historical Society.

Area historians marvel at the brothers’ success both individually and together.

“We always have the Dorsey Brothers playing (at the historical society). They are from our area and everybody that comes through here will just stand, listen. You see them tapping their feet to the music. They know it is the Dorsey Brothers,” Prosymchak said.

Records indicate that the family moved to Lansford, Carbon County, when the brothers were teenagers.

“Pop Dorsey here, he was the band director at the Lansford High School for many years, he also directed the Lansford band, Lansford had a municipal band. Tommy and Jimmy, they lived up on Abbott Street (227 East Abbott) With their mother (Therese). While they lived here in town, we had a great many visitors. We had Frank Sinatra here in town. Everybody who ever sang with the Dorseys was here in town. There are numerous stories about what went on when Sinatra was here in town here,” recalled Bruce Markovich, vice president of the Lansford Historical Society.

“To go back in time, I would love to see that era come back, that would be so much fun. We did have a great time back in that time. People enjoyed going out, listening to music and dancing.
So to say that the Dorsey Brothers brought life to this area is an understatement. They really did bring a lot of good life to this area,” said Prosymchak.

Both brothers passed away in the mid 1950s. Tommy is laid to rest in a New York state cemetery (Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York), while Jimmy’s final resting place is here in Shenandoah Heights (Annunciation B.V.M. Cemetery).

“They were just a good bunch of people and they never forgot where they came from,” said Markovich.

“Just think of what they could have accomplished if they lived a lot longer. I mean, it was a great loss to the big band era to lose them at such a young age,” Prosymchak told us.

Some of their hits include “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” “I Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin“, and “You Are My Lucky Star.” All totaled, they sold over 100 million records.

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