Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Thomas Currier Vaudeville Collection

Collection ID:
Currier, Thomas, 1906-1986
Currier, Terrence P.
Granville, Bonita
Warner, H.B.
Physical Description:
0.5 Cubic feet
2 boxes
Thomas Currier (1906-1986) and his partner Max Zides (1904-1975) formed the radio, vaudeville, night club and television song and patter duo known as Hum (Zides) and Strum (Currier). The collection documents the career of Currier and Zides as Hum and Strum.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
This collection of memorabilia documents the career of Thomas C. Currier, known as Strum in the radio duo Hum and Strum. The collection is arranged chronologically and is comprised predominately of publicity photographs, news clippings, radio programs, and minimal correspondence (three items). There are autographed photographs of vaudeville performers including one of a young Irene Noblette Ryan who in her later career appeared as Granny on the CBS television program, The Beverly Hillbillies. There is an autographed photograph of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, United States Congress, Tip O'Neill. A scrapbook documenting Currier's career, started and kept by his wife Helen, includes news clippings, ticket stubs, and one photograph. There is a script of the radio drama Hitler's Children (1943); it is autographed by Bonita Granville and H.B. Warner on the reverse of page twenty-two. A theatre program from the Maine Civic Theatre is autographed by actor Michael Whalen. There are two magazines: Radio and Television Mirror, and TV Radio Mirror. There is one reel of 16mm film featuring Hum and Strum. There are a few news articles featuring Thomas's sons, Tommy and Terrance.

The collection is aranged into one series.
Series 1: Memorabilia, 1928-1986

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Thomas C. Currier was born July 27, 1906, in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended the High School of Commerce in Boston. Currier reportedly met Max Zides in a music publisher's office. They formed their act, Hum and Strum, in 1924 singing standards and comedy songs while playing ukulele and piano. They performed on the radio, initially WGI in Medford Hillside, Massachusetts, and later WBZ in Boston. By 1928 they were one of the acts featured in the catalogue of the White Entertainment Bureau billed as The Hum and Strum Boys. In a 1929 listeners' poll they were rated third behind radio personalities Rudy Vallee and Amos 'n Andy. They were featured with Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians, Glenn Miller's Orchestra and others.
Currier and Zides moved into vaudeville performing on the bill at the Boston Lowe's State Theater, The Orpheum and eventually the famed Palace Theater on Time's Square in New York City. In 1928 they toured the RKO vaudeville circuit through the United States and Canada with Mildred Hunt, star of Roxie's Gang. The act continued working in radio, both in Boston and nationally, over the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network. They were credited as the first team to use a public address system. They are cited as having mentored George Burns and Gracie Allen and comedian Phil Silvers and they have been credited as the inventors of the "jingle" or singing commercial. They performed radio commercials for such varied products as Marshmallow Fluff and Sieberling Tires. The duo occasionally appeared as the Oxiton Twins, Oxi and Ton, twin clowns promoting Oxiton, a patent medicine for sore gums and mouth.
Currier and Zides moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1933-1934 and continued their radio career on station WATM. During World War II, they entertained troops overseas with the United Service Organization (USO). They performed many benefits and charity functions during their career. In 1947, the duo began their work in television with the DuMont network in New York City. They also appeared on WBZ-TV in Boston. By 1955 they were doing eight television shows a week on WJAR-TV in Providence, Rhode Island. They had their own music show and appeared on Breakfast at the Sheraton, Tip Top Circus, and Weekend in New England. The act lasted thirty-five years until 1958. They reunited briefly in 1959 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where both had moved their families to retire. Zides then returned to Brookline, Massachusetts, ending their career for good. Currier continued performing as a solo act.
Currier was Roman Catholic and Max Zides was Jewish, and when asked about their pairing in 1955, Currier replied, "We believe that racial and religious hatreds are the dark glasses of the soul that blot a man's vision and make him unable to see character and vision in others."
Currier married Helen Mary Egan and had two children: Thomas C. Currier and Terrence P. Currier. His son Terrence became a professional actor. Currier lived in both the Hough's Neck and Merrymount areas of Quincy and later in Braintree, Massachusetts. The elder Currier moved to Ft. Lauderdale during his retirement and later moved to Reston, Virginia to be near family. Max Zides died in Boston in February 1975. Thomas Currier died on July 2, 1986 in Fairfax, Virginia, and was buried in Braintree, Massachusetts.

Franklin A. Robinson, Jr.
Immediate Source of Acquisiton
Collection donated in 2007 by Thomas Currier's son, Terrence P. Currier.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr.; supervised by Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist, November 2007.

Digital Content
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Using the Collection
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research but one film is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view materials in cold storage. Using cold room materials requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
Preferred Citation
Thomas Currier Vaudeville Collection, 1928-1986, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Programs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Motion pictures (visual works) -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vaudeville Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scripts (documents) Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ryan, Irene Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Zides, Max Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Business Number: Phone: 202-633-3270
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