HOPATCONG – Michael McGiveney, son of famed Vaudeville quick-change artist Owen McGiveney, was the guest of honor at the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum’s latest event, “Vaudvillian Family Returns to Lake Hopatcong,” held at St. Jude’s Parish Hall in Hopatcong.
McGiveney, 73, presented vintage home movies of his father’s act and of his father’s life summering in the River Styx section of Lake Hopatcong.
Born in 1940, Michael was the youngest of the three children McGiveney children and the only one born at Lake Hopatcong. He has “vital memories” of his early childhood at the lake, learning to swim and row a boat on the lake and going to kindergarten at Hudson Maxim School in Hopatcong. In 1947 the family moved to Sherman Oaks, Calif.
The younger McGiveney learned his father’s quick-change act by operating as one of his backstage assistants since the age of 14.
“I new every part of his show, the lines, the choreography, everything,” said McGiveney, who performed his father’s 20-minute routine for 50 years before retiring in 2007.
“The routine is very physical, very taxing on the body, like a gymnastic act,” he said.
McGiveney revived one of the Oliver Twist characters from his father’s act, Fagin, for the crowd at St. Jude’s, leaving the stage for just seconds and returning in costume.
The program at St. Jude’s was the third in a series of four dinner events this year. Over 200 guests enjoyed a beefsteak dinner by Hap Nightingale of Clifton.
“I thought this was a great evening,” said Pat Curtain from Mount Arlington. “The topic just brought us back and the food was fantastic,” she said.
The next museum event, “Walking the Midway at Lake Hopatcong” will be held Saturday, November 2 at the Palace Theater in Netcong. For more information visit the museum’s website at www.lakehopatconghistory.com.
Michael McGiveney, right, talks about his father’s wooden boat, “The Gibson Girl.”