About The Artist
James (Froggie) Cortez was a country comic and bass player who worked with various musical groups, most notably Doc Williams and the Border Riders. His skills included singing humorous songs, participating in skits, and demonstrating tricks with his pet monkey Jo-Jo. He later organized his own show and worked out of his hometown of Elwood City, Pennsylvania.
Cortez came from a large family of Italian extraction, being one of fifteen children. He joined the Border Riders at WWVA in the spring of 1938. Doc Williams said it was his first job in entertainment, but he apparently adapted to it quickly and well.
One of his favorite songs was the old 1872 chestnut "Courtin' in the Rain," which seems to make a new appearance in country music circles every few years. He was also good in comical skits with Doc acting as straight man as well as working with Jo-Jo the monkey.
Froggie registered for the draft in 1940. His draft card indicates he was working with Doc Williams and the Border Riders at radio station WREC in Memphis, TN at the time.
He apparently left the Border Riders a short time prior to the World War II break-up of the band. He later worked with another former Border Rider Mary "Sunflower" Calvas at WKST in New Castle, Pennsylvania.
In 1944, Froggie was working with Slim Carter and Brown Eyes on the Home Folks Jamboree on WKST in New Castle, PA.
By 1947 or early 1948, he was doing comedy at WMMN Fairmont, West Virginia and its Saturday night Sagebrush Roundup. He was doing personal appearances with Jake Taylor and his Rail Splitters. They published a song book that included some of the comedy routines that Froggie and Jake would do as well as some jokes Froggie probably told the audiences.
Somewhat later he returned to Elwood City and developed his own show.
He married his wife, the former Nellie May Lemmon in 1939—who came from Doc Williams' hometown of Kittaning, Pennsylania. Froggie's obituary indicated that the couple had four children — two sons - Fred and John and two daughters - Mary Catherine (Weir) and Janie (Morrison).
Froggie died at the relatively young age of fifty-one. His wife Nellie was born on August 5, 1918 and died on September 2, 1960.
Credits & Sources
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