Peggy Bernier Wilson, stage performer during the 1920s and early ’30s who made her professional bow as a teenager in Al Jolson’s Broadway musical “Big Boy,” died March 5 of natural causes in New York. She was 93.
A product of the flapper era, she found success with audiences displaying a youthful verve and comedic flair. Following “Big Boy,” she joined the road company of “Little Nellie Kelly” and became stranded in Chicago when the show closed. She was then discovered by bandleader and impresario Paul Ash in a small club doing a Jolson impression, and he signed her to a contract with the Oriental Theatre in Chicago. She later recorded popular versions of “The Varsity Drag” and “Good News.”
In 1931 she played a flapper in “You Said It,” appearing with Lou Holtz and Lyda Roberti. She subsequently did radio work and performed in cabarets such as the Silver Slipper in Atlantic City and the Blue Angel in New York.
She came out of retirement in the early 1940s to appear on Fred Waring’s “The Pennsylvanians” radio show and received kudos for her impressions of Fannie Brice and Sophie Tucker.
A screen test she once made resides in the Museum of Modern Art’s collection of archival film.
She is survived by her daughter and two grandchildren.