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Beryl Harrell
Born:  September 23, 1918
Died:  June 14, 1977
Forman Phillips County Barn Dance
Hometown Jamboree
Town Hall Party
KFOX Long Beach, CA
KGER Los Angeles, CA
KXLA Pasadena, CA

About The Artist

Note: Original biography published in 2008.

Updated: July 10, 2021
Updated: July 24, 2021

The Early Years

Beryl Harrell - 13 years old Beryl Deane Harrell was born in Vancouver, Washington on September 23, 1918. Her parents were Cleo Willie Harrell (B: June 5, 1893; D: September 9, 1957) and the former Leona Bertha Burnett (B: October 5, 1897; D: April 1, 1992). Cleo and Leona were married in Vancouver, Clark County, Washington on July 27, 1918.

A brother, Christopher Harrell, was born in 1922, but he died at an early age from rubella or as commonly known, German measles. We were able to piece together this biographical essay with the help of Beryl's only son, Don Triolo.

Both of Beryl's parents were born in Missouri. Cleo's WW2 draft registration card shows he was born in Rocky Comfort. The 1920 US Census shows that the Harrell family was living in Portland, OR on Third Street. Beryl's father owned a barber shop.

The 1930 US Census shows the family had moved to Los Angeles, living on East 38 th Street. Cleo still owned a barber shop. The family did own a radio set according to census records.

By 1940, the family was living in Inglewood, CA on West 102 nd Street and Cleo was still a barber. But this may have been where Beryl was living with her husband, Carl. His draft registration indicates a different address for Cleo.

Her son surmises that her early years were not always the happiest. Her mother may have been a sort of stage mother, pushing her daughter to accomplish something on stage, so she could point to others, "That's my daughter". Her mother liked music and at the time, Hawaiian music was quite popular. Beryl had an ear for it and took to learning the Hawaiian guitar easily.

Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell
Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell

Nainoa Hawaiian Center

When Beryl was just 13, she was taking up lessons on the steel guitar. Her instructor would charge her family the princely sum of 25 cents for each lesson. Her teacher? None other than the Hawaiian steel guitar legend, Sol Hooppii.

Through the years, her sound retained that early Hawaiian sound that Sol taught and influenced her, but she also developed her own techniques when she began to play with the various western bands she became associated with. Her son recalls that her rendition of the classic, "Harbor Lights" could bring a tear to your eye, then she'd turn around and follow that up with a hot number like "Beaumont Rag".

An advertising flyer for the Electro String Instrument Corp. from about 1938 included a picture of Sol and also a group called the "Sweethearts of the Air", which featured the steel guitar sounds of a then 18-year old Beryl Harrell.

Don's notations of Beryl's pictures with the perhaps the first grouping of the "Sweethearts Of The Air" which began at the Nainoa Music Center (Based on the 1936 city directory, it was at 808 South Broadway in Los Angeles). Besides Beryl, the group included Joyce's obituary indicated she had lived in Lawndale, CA for the last 22 years of her life. SHe was survived by two daughters and three sons as well as her husband, Whitney Anderson.

Joyce Kalehuamakano Nainoa (B: February 8, 1915 - D: January 27, 1938). The 1940 census implied that Joyce had married and was listed with the last name of McKee. The later married Whitney Anderson (date unknown) but they were divorced in October of 1967. Joyce married Irvin Torgenson in Las Vegas on August 16, 1969. They were divorced in Los Angeles in April of 1977. Joyce's obituary indicated that she had lived in Lawndale, CA the last 22 years of her life. The obituary indicated she was survived by her husband Whitney Anderson and two daughters and three sons.

Ula Jewel Kalaulahaole Nainoa (B: March 29, 1916 (Chicago, IL) - D: January 8, 1988 (San Diego, CA)). Ula married William Whyte sometime after the 1940 census as there was no previous record. Census records indicate he was born in Saskatchewan, Canada. The gravestone image on the Find-a-Grave web site indicates an inscription "Our Beloved Parents", but no other information could be found or obituaries for either one. They were buried in Redondo Beach, CA.

Correspondence from Sam K. Nainoa to Beryl Harrell and her Hawaiian Trio

Autographed Photo - Dick McIntire - Sol Hooppii - March 24, 1938

Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell

Sweethearts Of The Air

Beryl Harrell, Clair Smith and Betty Jay Holland - El Cortez Hotel - Las Vegas - 1960

Sweethearts of the Air - Radio Log - December 1935 - 7am and 4pm One of the difficulties encountered in researching Beryl's career was that the name "Sweethearts of the Air" was a common phrase or name; in some cases names were given for members of the 'group', in others not. However, we might determine through research of these others that the group Beryl was attached to can be identified by a process of elimination and other material.

The first encounter of the name "Sweethearts of the Air" was in the Los Angeles Daily News in January 1926. Radio station KFWB was featuring the "Sweethearts of the Air" who were known as the MacDowell sisters. They were to sing Hawaiian melodies that night. In the same article, The MacDowell Sisters were from Texas and had appeared over WFAA and WBAP. Their appearance was part of a radio broadcast devoted to John Phillip Sousa. However, we can surmise that this did not include Beryl for in 1926, she would have only been around 8 years old. This research does show the common use of the name. The McDowell Sisters were Edith and Grace. A short mention of them in a Fort Worth newspaper indicated they were Hawaiian guitar artists. It appears they then moved to southern California and were appearing over the LA Times radio station. Research indicates they did record several tunes that were of the Hawaiian genre. The MacDowell Sisters were seen in ads promoting religious services at the Home of Truth and Ardmore and Washington in Los Angeles.

In that same era, a singer by the name of Ina Mitchell Butler (B: September 20, 1896 - D: April 20, 1965) was being touted as the "Sweetheart of the Air."

In 1934, May Singhi Breen (B: February 24, 1891 (New York, NY) - D: December 19, 1970 (New York))and Peter deRose (B: March 10, 1896 (New York, NY) - D: April 23, 1953 (New York, NY))were also known as the "Sweethearts of the Air." and had their 11 th anniversary celebrated on Paul Whiteman's program broadcast over KFI. Peter deRose composed tunes such as "Wagon Wheels," "Muddy Waters," and, "Down Among the Sugar Cane."

The Los Angeles Times included a short tidbit promoting the appearance of Leverde Whitaker on radio station KMTR. She was "singing song hits" of the day on a show called "Klown Karnival" in January 1934. She was known as a soprano with a "...voice as sweet as her disposition."

The term "Sweethearts of the Air" was not always a label for singers. In July of 1933, James A. and Amy Johnson Mollison were to depart on a flight that would take them from London to New York to Bagdad (Iraq) then back to London.

Sweetheart of the Air - Ina Mitchell Butler Sweetheart of the Air - Laverde Whitaker
Sweethearts of the Air - MacDowell Sisters Sweethearts of the Air - May Singhi Breen and Peter de Rose

Eva Harpster and Her Four Co-Eds Orchestra A promotional pamphlet for the Rickenbacher guitars described the trio that was known as the "Sweethearts of the Air." They were "...stage, screen and radio artists. These three beautiful girls were voted their very appropriate professional name by their radio audience. Credit for such compliments must be given, not only to their beautiful musical arrangements, but also to the instruments they play."

A radio listing for "Sweethearts of the Air" began to appear around June 1933. Beryl would have been about 15 years old. There was a 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm program over KFOX in June 1933. October 1935 Los Angeles radio logs do show that on radio station KFI, the "Sweethearts of the Air" were on between 7:30 am and 7:45 am, sandwiched between the Opening New York stock reports and the Church Quarter-Hour. Of historical note would be that Stuart Hamblen's "Covered Wagon Jubilee" was on the air at 7:00 am over KMTR at the same time. This is probably the beginning of the group that Beryl was a part of. The MacDowell sisters were not seen in the news articles of the day in this time period.

Don's collection of material also shows that this trio were perhaps sponsored by the owner of the Commodore Cocktail Lounge on 7th Avenue, C. C. (Mack) McGovern. The trio appears to have played engagements there and a promotional postcard was produced as well.

Eva Harpster and Her Four Co-Eds Orchestra When she was just twenty years old, she had the distinction of appearing in a Rickenbacker catalog, pictured with one of the first lap steel guitars. Later, around 1950, Paul Rickenbacker designer he a double-neck steel guitar. Around 1958, she purchased a four neck steel guitar from Eddie Bush (the picture of Beryl in Las Vegas from around 1960 could include the guitar elsewhere on this page). According to her son, she had that four neck steel guitar until 1964.

Her son made a demo recording available to us. He recalls that this was done to introduce a new foot petal that Paul Bigsby had designed with Paul Rickenbacker. The demo recording was on a "Les Paul" label. Speedy West was first offered the use of this petal, but declined as it would not work with the Fender single neck steel guitar. The demo along with several other recordings Don provided shows that Beryl had a definite Hawaiian sound to her playing, from the early influences of her teacher, Sol Hoopii. She continued to use that pedal until she bought her four-neck steel guitar in 1958.

The color photo of Beryl leads one to think it may have been designed by the legendary Nudie who tailored many a suit for a country performer. Beryl's son Don confirmed this for us. Beryl told her son that it was quite a task to "smile and bake" at the same time as those suits were made of wool. He notes she always had a small makeup sponge that she could use when she was off camera to blot her nose.

Sweethearts of the Air - Commodore Lounge Ad - December 1935 - Los Angeles CA

Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell

Beryl Harrell, Clair Smith and Betty Jay Holland - El Cortez Hotel - Las Vegas - 1960

The Hula Bluettes

The Hula Bluettes were getting mentions as early as 1935. Sunny Vogels appears to have been the lead during the earlier personnel mixes of this group. A column in October 1936 indicates they were being seen and heard in the Cabrillo Cocktail Room at the Cabrillo Inn that was located in the Fox Cabrillo Theatre Building in San Pedro, CA. The group was also part of the Inn's floor show in the evenings. The article also appears to indicate the group had worked "in the production" of the movie "Mutiny of the Bounty." as well.

In November of 1935, the lines blurred a bit more as to the personnel of the group. A dinner party was hosted a dinner party was hosted by Mrs. V. C. Akerman for the University of Hawaii football team before their return to Hawaii. She was known in the theatre circles as "Alama Pua" or "Alma Pua." It was indicated that her "Hula Bluettes" provided the entertainment. At that time, Sunny Vogels, Dorothy Fowler, Tani Marsh (Pearl Johanson), daughter of Mrs. Akerman and Carmen Graso. Also part of the entertainment that evening were several members of Sol Hooppii's radio group of performers.

In early 1936, an article inferred that the group, still being led by Mrs. V. C. Ackerman ("Alma Pua") was being heard nightly over radio station KFAC. However, viewing radio logs for two weeks in February 1936 did not list a specific show for the Hula Bluettes.

The group appeared on what was known as the "California Hour" one evening when it featured the city of Long Beach. This was in April 1936 and while several articles mention the group's participation in the broadcast, it was the Sacramento Bee that told readers who was in the trio: Dorothy Fowler, Helen (Sunny?) Vogels and Maxine Herriges who played the steel guitar, Spanish guitar and ukulele.

July 31 1936 Radio Log - Sweethearts of the Air; Hula Bluettes

In June of 1936, the Hula Bluettes were offering "...plenty of soft melody" in their engagement at the newly opened "Cocktail Room" in The Cellar located in the basement of the Ambassador Hotel at 817 Fries in Wilmington, CA. The group was then being heard over radio station KGER.

Beryl Harrell - Sunny Vogel - Irene Luning - Hula Bluettes Business Card While learning the Hawaiian guitar, she was part of a group known as the Hula Bluettes. The other two members of the trio were Sunny Vogels and Irene (Louise) Luning (B: January 27, 1892; D: September 3, 1989). Research shows that Irene was born in Chicago Illinois to parents Joseph and Mary Binard (Banard). She later married Thomas Frederick Luning on December 31, 1912 in Chicago. Sunny Vogels or Vogel was married to Bernard Vogel.

Her son Don felt his mom enjoyed those times, not just for the music, but being able to be with other people her age and sharing their talents together.

The summer of 1936, the Hula Bluettes were being heard over radio station KGER. They were also appearing in The Cellar in the cocktail lounge, entertaining continuously while Larry Mack's Ambassador Orchestra furnished dance music in the main room. One column described them as "radio-famous."

An article in March of 1937 indicated that Beryl and Dorothy Clarke were returning to entertain audiences at The Cellar as an encore to the popularity they had enjoyed the previous summer. This appears to be the first mention of Beryl as part of the group as early as 1936. They were still being heard over KGER as well.

In the summer of 1937, the Hula Bluettes were appearing nightly at The Cellar. A newspaper photos shows that the group then consisted of Sunny Vogels, Beryl Harrell and Maxine Herriges (B: February 22, 1912; D: October 3, 1976).

Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell
Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell
Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell

Autographed Photo - Cush Branch - October 20, 1938 Autographed Photo - Doug Bryan, Guitarist - Date Unknown

The Triolo Family

It is not clear when Beryl Harrell married Carl Theodore Triolo (B: October 21, 1914 (El Paso, TX) - D: December 19, 1992 (Salome, AZ). Carl was born to parents Jerome and Laura (Ontivara) Triolo. His mother was of Mexican descent; she died in El Paso in May of 1959. Carl had a brother (Jerome) and sister (Laura). His brother was the first prisoner of war to return to El Paso after World War II; he was a survivor of the Bataan Death March in April 1942.

His World War II registration listed Beryl's father (Mr. C. W. Harrell) as point of contact, living at 1211 Sentous in Los Angeles, an address that is not shown in Google searches.) in August 26, 1942. At the time, he was living at 1048 W. 102 nd Street in Los Angeles. Carl was working for the Vega Airplane Corporation in Burbank, CA.

Carl enlisted in the U. S. Navy on June 13, 1941. He was released on April 17, 1942. It appears that Carl re-enlisted based on a review of his World War II registation card in August 1942 as noted above.

A son, Donald Carl Triolo, was born on May 1, 1944. He passed away on March 28, 2015.

According to Don's recollections, Carl left Beryl and Don about three months after he was born. This would be perhaps late summer 1944.

Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell
Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell

Eva Harpster and Her Four Coeds

Around 1940 or so per Don's notes, Beryl was part of the Eva Harpster and her Four Co-Eds Orchestra. The all-female ensemble played a variety of instruments including piano, solovox, drums, vibraphone, saxophone, clarinet, electric and steel guitar. The back of a publicity photo indicated that they had played a "...record breaking engagement of 26 weeks in the Silver Room of the Glendale Hotel in Glendale, California." The group featured such instruments as Piano, Solovox, Drums and Vibraphone, Saxophone and Clarinet, and Electric and Steel Guitar and four vocalists. The photo appears to be from around 1944 as the photo indicates they were accepting bookings for 1945. The hotel was located at 701 E. Broadway in Glendale and opened in 1925. The group was represented by the Reg D. Marshall Agency back then of Hollywood, California. This agency was located at 1508 Crossroads of the World (6671 Sunset Blvd) in Hollywood. Billboard listed the agency in 1946 as part of a listing of "Band & Cocktail Booking Offices". Among the staff were Reg D. Marshall, Johnny Robinson, Mary Shannon, Stanley H. Hall, Hal G. Neely, Bernice Jensen and Robert Raful.

Her association with Eva is rather unknown as there is not much written about Eva Harpster other than a news item that ran in 1939 describing her as a 'torch singer'. In 1939, she was in the news for losing a lawsuit to her dentist when she sued for $68,000 for improper treatment. It seemed she blamed the dentist for the fact that she developed a lisp. Headlines of the two paragraph story seemed to take advantage of the puns the story offered. "Singer Lisps, So She Sues Dentist", "Ith Juth Too Bad For Eva", "Thinger Loses Thuit."

Los Angeles Music Scene - Late 1940's to Early 1950's

In May 1948, Beryl was fronting the "Saddle Dusters" band at Al Royer's Red Barn. The Saddle Dusters were being heard over KXLA at the time. A 1948 article mentions that the band also included three other men, but did not include their names or what instruments they played.

The ad accompanying the article indicated that there was dancing every night and Sunday afternoons when the band was playing, which means these folks were working seven days a week! Al Royer's Red Barn was at the corner of Hawthorne and Redondo Beach Boulevards in Lawndale, California. Another band that was being heard at the Red Barn was Carl Cody and his Red Barn Ranch Hands.

Beryl and her steel guitar would also be heard with Carl Cody and the Southerners at the Marion Elduayen's "Saddle Club".

Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar (Plastic case) donated by her son, Don Triolo Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar (Plastic case - note) donated by her son, Don Triolo

During the early 1950's, Los Angeles saw the spread of hillbilly music in many different venues. Beryl was a part of that scene. In 1950, she appeared to be a part of more than one musical group. In early May of 1950, Beryl was reported to be a part of Coby Jones and her all girl Western Band. They were playing at the Band Box (10425 South Vermont, Los Angeles, CA) on Sunday afternoons from 3:00pm to 8:30pm and on Monday nights. A couple weeks later, W. B. Granger again touted the appearance of Coby Jones and also promoting the presence of Beryl with the band. Research has not identified the other female members of the group. Another positive review showed up in May 11, 1950. While mentioning the great music at the Band Box where Leodi Jackson and his Western Swingsters were starring at the time, the reviewer notes: "...Even on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights, there's no let up. That's when pretty little Coby Jones (Sweetheart of the West) and all her cowgirls play for the dancing and singing. We like that pretty little number, Beryl Harrell, who plays her steel guitar, too. Yep! They're gonna hafta rebuild that Band Box some of these days, any place can take only so much hustlin' and bustin' night after night."

In June of 1950, she his reported to be a part of Carl Cody's Red Barn Band that was packing them in at Al (Royer's) Red Barn (the corner of Hawthorne and Redondo Beach Blvd in Lawndale). It is interesting to note again that Beryl is being singled out in promoting the personal appearance of an artist or group. For the Red Barn appearance, a local newspaper used a publicity photo of her (see the color photo version at bottom of page). In a June 8, 1950 column by W. B. Granger wrote of Cody's appearance at the Red Barn: "...And at Al's Red Barn there is western music and entertainment by Carl Cody and his Red Barn Ranch Hands with lovely little Beryl Harrell and her steel guitar to keep the crowds dancing and yelling for more and more music." It was during this time that Carl Cody and his band were being heard over KFOX at 9:15.

Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar (Plastic case) donated by her son, Don Triolo Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar (Plastic case - note) donated by her son, Don Triolo

In a December 1951 article, we learn the make up of Carl's group at the time that was working at Al Royer's Red Barn. The group included Carl Cody on vocals and guitar, Roy Ball on drums, Buddy Ray on fiddle, Beryl Harrell on steel guitar and Ion Cooper on bass.

In May of 1952, Beryl was playing with Carl Cody's band again, but this time they were appearing at Marion Eduayen's Saddle Club. An article mentions that the band members included Roy Ball on drums, Beryl Harrell on steel guitar, Sid Burzser on fiddle and Gail Cooper on bass.

Beryl Harrell, Clair Smith and Betty Jay Holland - El Cortez Hotel - Las Vegas - 1960

Beryl's son notes that she was the only steel guitar player that Carl Cody's band had and recalls fondly the duet numbers they would do together. Carl would always dedicate two numbers to Don, "Bimbo" and "Money, Marbles and Chalk" while his mom would do the "Steel Guitar Chimes" right before the nightly intermission.

When that time came, the band would gather in the back of the club. Don recalls that Al Royer, the owner, would do just about anything for his mom, including letting a minor such as he sit in on the music. Carl would also treat Don to a hamburger, served in those oval plastic baskets and wrapped in white paper along with a coke complete with a straw.

Beryl would often get fan letters as many of the performers did in that bygone era. Beryl's son Don kept some of those fan letters that were saved by his mom.

Beryl Harrell "Hi Beryl,

Well I haven't been able to get your program yet, but there is a friend of mine in town that has a set that gets most of the Los Angeles stations.

Would you please write and tell me the time and station again and the nites that you play?

Also, I would like to know if you ever made a recording of "Dragging The Steel" and if so can you get me one if I send you the money? Also send me the names of some of the others you have recorded.

Boy, I'd give a whole months pay just to be at Royer's for one hour.

Well, anyhow I am saving a little money up here.

I would consider it a great favor if you would answer soon."

U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Storis
Juneau, Alaska
"Dear Beryl,
Have been trying for several months to get you on the radio, but was never able to get you. So about 6 weeks ago we purchased a T.V. set so was surprised and thrilled when we found you on Foreman Phillips program. Also when we are home on Sun. we get you with Jimmie Dolan. Enjoy your music very much.

Beryl ask your Dad and Mother if they remember Mabal Crenshaw as that was my name when they knew me.

My husband and I would be very happy to have you visit us. I would enjoy talking over old times. We are never home on Sunday but most every evening.

Mr. and Mrs. J.R.T. "
Beryl Harrell

Beryl Harrell Beryl Harrell

Let's step back to Christmas of 1949. How would you like to be a kid and attend a Christmas party at the home of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with your mom? Well, that's exactly what happened for Beryl's son. There were quite a few other kids at the party as well, mostly kids of musicians of that era. He thinks his mom took him because he had never seen Santa Claus before. Well, that introduction caused him no end of fright, he recalls he screamed like a banshee. But you have to feel that eventually Santa wins him over as life moved along.

It was at this party his mom met Anita Aros (B: October 19, 1928 — D: June 16, 2008), a fiddler with Spade Cooley's band and he recalls they became good friends. But he did notice that the male audience members seemed to flock around the two ladies "like flies". Don recalls going home with a stuffed animal from "Santa's Bag" that night. But he also recalls that Anita was quite charming and beautiful to a young boy. Anita was said to be a classically trained violinist. Anita was part of perhaps Spade's last band. Spade tried to form an all-female band but it did not work out. Anita married William Tuttle, a Hollywood make-up artist who worked on over 300 MGM films.

Beryl Harrell, Eddie Cletro, Foreman Phillips - Trading Post - Channel 7 KECA-TV

Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar (Plastic case) donated by her son, Don Triolo Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar (Plastic case - note) donated by her son, Don Triolo

Don provided some photos from his mother's collection. Research on her career has shed some light on when she may have met the people in those photos and when. One picture was of then MGM recording artist Sam Nichols. The Saddle Club on 7306 South Vermont in Los Angeles had its grand opening on Friday and Saturday April 29 and 30, 1949. The club was owned by Marion Elduayen and managed by Al Harvey. The headliner that night was T. Texas Tyler. Also appearing was Jesse Ashlock's Band and Harmonica George (George Mlagenovich).

During her time in the Los Angeles music scene, she made numerous appearances on the barn dances that Foreman Phillips hosted, playing steel guitar with Eddie Cletro's band.

She also worked with Cliffie Stone as part of the Hometown Jamboree. She was affectionately known as "The Hawaiian Cowgirl". Don recalls that Kaiser-Willys was one of the main sponsors of the show at the time.

She also appeared on the Town Hall Party show. Beryl's son recalls that it was during a time when the show had a doubling up of musicians of each type on the show. That is, two fiddlers, two steel players, etc. Fiddlin' Kate and Chico were on the show. He recalls that Jenks "Tex" Carman would come over and flirt with his mom during the breaks. He recalls that she was on the show in the very early 1950s, perhaps prior to many of the videos that still remain from that era.

Don reached back into his memories and told us of how he reacted to some of the performers he met while his mom was performing back then. Some stars were known to have a few drinks and perhaps Don smelled that distinctive aroma and caused him to be a bit leery. In other instances, such as when he met folks such as Les Anderson (who's red hair got his attention) or Wade Ray. In fact, he notes that Wade, while younger than his mom, found the time to chat with her and Beryl's mom would often warn her to avoid such a person.

Beryl Harrell, Roy Ball with Carl Cody and his Country Boys

Don's memory takes him back to shows that were done in outdoor venues. One seems to stand out in his mind, somewhere up in mountains (to him, the name Sierra Creek Park comes to mind). It stands partly because he got his first case of poison ivy. That show included such folks as Joe and Rose Maphis, The Collins Kids, Molly Bee {she had to stand on a wooden box to sing into the microphone), Merle Travis, Fiddling Kate, Johnny Bond, and perhaps even Les Anderson as he recalls that Les and his mom did a "killer version" together of Steel Guitar Rag that raised the roof, even up in the mountains.

Beryl's son Donnie as he was known back then as a kid notes that his mom was always treated with the utmost respect by the stars of that era such as Cliffie Stone, Merle Travis and Eddie Cletro. Often, they spoiled Don with little gifts of toys, candy and whatever else made a kid happy back then.

During those times, Beryl's dad would take a "Kodak moment" - a picture of his daughter Beryl when she appeared on television on those shows when the family lived on Bayview Drive in Manhattan Beach, California.

Just as an added anecdote from that early era, Beryl drove a 1948 Buick Roadmaster. Her father had a 1950 Dodge Wayfarer.

Perhaps through the many contacts she had made working in Los Angeles, she backed Bonnie Lee on several of her recordings in the 1950-1952 period. We found mention of Bonnie in an old Tex 'Jenks' Carman song folio.

Beryl Harrell unknown band members - the Band Box Promotional Ad - Ray's Band Box - 1950

Alaska To Las Vegas

Beryl Harrell, Clair Smith and Betty Jay Holland - El Cortez Hotel - Las Vegas - 1960

Beryl Harrell Roy Ball Coby Jones, Alaska 1953 Hitchin Post Ad - Sep 1953 - Spenard AK - Beryl Harrell Roy Ball Coby Jones, Alaska 1953

On August 2, 1953, Beryl married Roy Frederick Ball (B: July 19, 1913 (Keokuk, IA) ; D: December 5, 1996 (Las Vegas, NV)) in Los Angeles, CA. She was 34 and he was 40 years old. They were living in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1954. However, the marriage did not last. Records show that Roy Ball married Myrtle Frances Bell on August 4, 1961 in Clark County, Nevada.

After she married Roy,the William Morris Agency offered his mom a one year stint with leader scale (back then that was $400 a week) in Anchorage, Alaska and $300 a week as a sideman to her husband, Roy. At that time, Alaska was not yet a state!

Based on a Christmas card provided by Don, the group that went to Alaska included Beryl, Roy Ball and Coby Jones. While in Alaska, Coby did some recordings for the Inlet label.

Around this time, Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians wanted her to play the "Pink Palace" in Honolulu (the legendary Hilo Hattie enjoyed Beryl's sound.) But that offer did not include her husband, Roy.

The newlyweds took the Anchorage job, but in doing so, her son, Don, had to stay with her parents at their 94th Street and Vermont home in Los Angeles and attending the 95th street school. Don does recalls that it was not the happiest of times for him or his mom.

Beryl Harrell, Clair Smith and Betty Jay Holland - El Cortez Hotel 1960 But June of 1954 gave them an opportunity to leave the land of the snow and move to what was becoming the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas. Which also meant that Beryl and her son were reunited.

We asked Don about his early memories of Las Vegas. He tells us a little anecdote about their first few days there. They had arrived in Las Vegas in 1954, in a car they had purchased in Alaska, but consider back then that air conditioning was not the standard feature found in a car as it is today. Don broke into tears and his mom asked him, "Honey, what's wrong?". He blurted out, "Are we in hell?" In his youthful ten year old mind and having gone to a Baptist church Sunday school, he was sure this was the 'hell' that he was being punished for in having to stay with his grandparents for a year, separated from his mom.

In Las Vegas, they became part of the "Polly Possum Show". At the time, Polly was married to Joe Wolverton. Joe also worked with Les Paul as a twosome in the 1930's. Polly's show alternated at that time between the Riverside Hotel in Reno and the Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas.

Beryl Harrell But the gambling scene and the musical crowds at that time included a good mixture of drinking and from that, often cruel statements would be made, whether truthful or the booze talking, but all the same, still hurtful to the person who was not into that type of lifestyle. Beryl endured her share of insults, hearing comments that her talent was what kept her on stage for her looks were competing with the show's main star, perhaps showing some insecurity of the star. Beryl stayed with Polly's show for about two years, but one surmises, it wasn't the happiest of times.

In 1960, by this time, Beryl was living in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was a part of a female trio that was entertaining audiences at the El Cortez Hotel. The group included Clair Smith and Betty Jay Holland as well as Beryl, who at that time was playing a 4-neck Fender steel guitar she had purchased from Eddie Bush.

Her son recalls that on many an occasion, he enjoyed the rehearsals his mom would go through at home. She practiced a tune her son had enjoyed, Sleepwalk, to please her son. Don recalls that on most occasions, someone in the audience would request a number or two of Beryl - something like "Okie Boogie" or "Steel Guitar Rag". The band had a tip jar and his mom was scared that the hotel would find out they were doing such pure country songs and would try to sweet talk the audience person into a traditional Hawaiian tune such as "Sweet Lelani" or "Hawaiian War Chant".

Her son recalls the last performances by his mom. It was after he had graduated from high school, around 1962 or 1963. She was asked to play the local NCO Club on some weeks at Nellis Air Force Base. She did those gigs because some musicians she had worked with in the past pleaded with her to join them. She joined them apprehensively. The crowds always seemed to fill the venue, officers, privates, they all attended. Don noted that even then, his mom could cast a spell over the men, they still wanted to get to know that gal with the pretty smile playing the steel guitar. Her son was just 18 then, and found it amusing.

But Don notes, this may have been the beginning of her depression but a mood he was not able to recognize at the time. That appearance led to other weekend appearances at the "Silver Dollar", at the time a well known western music club. It seems that fans and other musicians not to mention her son, kept encouraging the lady who charmed them with her hawaiian steel guitar sounds. Don notes she always had that beautiful smile when she was playing but at the time, she would tell her son that she thought she was too old to be on stage. And shortly thereafter, she put away her picks and steel bar. She sold her four-neck Fender steel guitar in 1963; looking back Don thinks it was a way for her of "...putting things to rest." She was offered studio work in 1969, but she turned it down.

Beryl Harrell Triolo - Memorial Ad by son Don Triolo - 2006 Her son fondly recalls that every engagement he saw his mom play always included a large enthusiastic and appreciative crowd, if not a full house. This was especially true during the hey-day of such shows as The Town Hall Party, Forman Phillips County Barn Dance, The Hometown Jamboree, Doye O'Dell's show and television.

Don notes that he could tell his mom was loved, admired and respected by her peers but she seemed oblivious to it, never allowing it to swell her ego as it might for some folks - she stayed true to who she was. He tells us that in her eyes, she never considered herself a star or a beauty, just a steel guitar player.

We asked Don what his favorite memory was of his mom during her musical career. He told us he was always proud to know that it was his mom up there on stage that was a part of the entertainment that the crowds appreciated. When Don was in the audience during the television tapings, she never missed winking or waving to her son when the camera wasn't on her.

Beryl had only one son by her first husband . She divorced Roy Ball in 1961. It was an amicable parting of the ways. Around that time, Don recalls that his mom had felt she had reached an age where perhaps she was too old to be performing on stage. She found a job as a PBX operator at the famed Desert Inn Hotel.

Beryl Deane Harrell (1918 — 1977)

Beryl Harrell Triolo - Memorial Ad by son Don Triolo - 2008 Beryl's life never seemed to help her find the happiness or contentment that one seeks. Her first husband left her when their new born son was just about three months old. Then later in life, he called her son when he was about 27 and wanted to see them again. But he was only with them a short time again and left them about a year later.

That may have been the tipping point for her in her life. She wrote her son a long, lengthy letter and mailed it so it would arrive after the weekend. In the meantime, she ended her life. Whatever it was that turned her sour on life, she left those thoughts with herself. She wrote a long letter and mailed it to her son, knowing he would get it after she had passed away. She wanted her son to know that he and her music were the two things that brought her the most happiness in her life.

Each year, her son published a memorial to his mom, Beryl, on the date of her date and birth in the local newspaper in Las Vegas. As noted previously, her son, Don, passed away suddenly on March 28, 2015.

Beryl Harrell - Portrait

Memorial Ad for Beryl Harrell Triolo in 2009 placed by son Don Triolo

Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar (Plastic case) donated by her son, Don Triolo Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar (Plastic case - note) donated by her son, Don Triolo

Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar donated by her son, Don Triolo

Beryl Harrell's Steel Bar donated by her son, Don Triolo

Beryl Deane Harrell Triolo - autographed portrait to husband, Carl Triolo

Credits and Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to "Beryl's boy Donnie", Don Triolo for providing us with information and photos related to his mother's career as a musician.
  • Hermosa Beach Review; May 13, 1948; "Dine and Dance at these South Bay Eating Spots"
  • Fan Mail; November 1950; Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Tate; Whittier, California; Copy courtesy of Don Triolo
  • Fan Mail; January 1950; J. W. Gilbreath; Juneau, Alaska; Copy courtesy of Don Triolo
  • Novel and Varied Aero Bill Tonight Offering By KFWB; January 17, 1926; Los Angeles Daily News; Los Angeles, CA
  • Today's Aerial Offerings - KFWB Features Ina Butler, The Old-Time Favorite; September 7, 1926; Los Angeles Daily News; Los Angeles, CA
  • Sousa Talks To Radioland - Sweethearts of the Air Appear For First Time; January 28, 1926; Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, CA
  • Sweetheart of the Air Waves; January 29, 1934; Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, CA
  • Radio Listing; June 18, 1933; The Pasadena Post; Pasadena, CA
  • Where To Dial; October 9, 1935; The Long Beach Sun; Long Beach, CA
  • 'Sweethearts of the Air' Take Off - Start London-N.Y.-Baghdad - London Trip; July 22, 1933; Pomona Progress Bulletin; Pomona, CA
  • Obituary: Mrs. Laura O. Triolo; May 12, 1959; El Paso Times; El Paso, TX
  • Bataan March Survivor Dies; March 11, 1984; El Paso Times; El Paso, TX
  • Bright Spots After Dark; Manabout Town; October 26, 1935; The News-Pilot; San Pedro, CA
  • University of Hawaii Gridmen Entertained at Dinner Party Here on Eve of Departure; November 22, 1935; The News-Pilot; San Pedro, CA
  • Hula Bluettes Are Program Feature; November 26, 1935; Wilmington Daily Press Journal; Wilmington, CA
  • Veteran Post Has Big Dinner, Meet; February 5, 1936; Wilmington Daily Press Journal; Wilmington, CA
  • Long Beach Will Be Honored in California Hour on Air To-night; April 27, 1936; Sacramento Bee; Sacramento, CA
  • News Of Restaurants - Clubs - Cafes; Manabout Towne; June 6, 1936; The News-Pilot, San Pedro, CA
  • News Of Restaurants - Clubs - Cafes; June 20, 1936; The News-Pilot, San Pedro, CA
  • News Of Restaurants - Clubs - Cafes; June 27, 1936; The News-Pilot, San Pedro, CA
  • News Of Restaurants - Clubs - Cafes; July 25, 1936; The News-Pilot, San Pedro, CA
  • News Of Night Clubs and Cafes; Hugo Places; March 6, 1937; The News-Pilot, San Pedro, CA
  • Los Angeles After Dark; W. L. Granger; May 4, 1950; The Southwest Wave; Los Angeles, CA
  • Los Angeles After Dark; W. L. Granger; May 11, 1950; The Southwest Wave; Los Angeles, CA
  • Los Angeles After Dark; W. L. Granger; May 18, 1950; The Southwest Wave; Los Angeles, CA
  • Los Angeles After Dark; W. L. Granger; June 8, 1950; The Southwest Wave; Los Angeles, CA
  • Los Angeles After Dark; W. L. Granger; June 15, 1950; The Southwest Wave; Los Angeles, CA
  • For Dancers Only; December 15, 1951; The Daily News; Los Angeles, CA
  • Los Angeles After Dark; W. L. Granger; May 29, 1952; The Southwest Wave; Los Angeles, CA

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