RIP Fran Daniels, Gayety Showgirl, “Hamm’s Beer Girl”

By Avenue, 3/21/2011

Frances Carol Mootafian (nee Kessinger), also known as Fran Daniels, passed away on Feb. 18, 2011. She was born on Nov. 23, 1931 in Camp Creek, W.Va. Born to parents Ira and Dorinda Kessinger, Frances was the fifth and last child of the family. They eventually moved to Beckley, W.Va. where she was raised and went to school.

Fran came to Baltimore around her 18th birthday. She obtained a job in the chorus at the Gayety Theatre. She went to Harrols Corral to see her friend Irene who was working as a barmaid. It was there she met Tex Daniels, who was also working at the bar. They married on Aug. 10, 1952 and had two sons, Joseph Earl and James Drexel Franckewitz (which was Tex’s real last name).

She couldn’t sing a note but Tex helped and coached her and finally made a break through. Frances’ first song was Lefty Frizzell’s “Mom and Dad’s Waltz.” She became a part of Tex’s popular Lazy H Ranch Show on Channel 13. The show became Tex and Fran Daniels’ Lazy H Ranch Jamboree. One show at the Lyric Theatre on a New Year’s Day in the ‘50s had in it Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, Andy Griffith, The Midwestern Hay Riders, Jimmy Dean, and Tex and Fran Daniels. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, The Moon Light Boat Cruises were popular and on Country Night, stars like Hank Snow, Carl Smith, Grandpa Jones and many others appeared. Fran Daniels worked many fair dates with Minnie Pearl. When Hamm’s Beer was introduced to Baltimore, she became the “Hamm’s Beer Girl.”

Photo by Yaro Hospodarsky c/o John Bubb

During the 1960s the group continued to tour the country as “Fran Daniels and Her Escorts.” They played military bases and private clubs and incorporated non-country music into their act.

Tex and Fran divorced in 1970. With her marriage to Carl Mootafian, she relocated to Salem, Mass. and retired from show business. With Carl’s death in 2009, Fran moved to Georgetown, Ohio with her son, James.

Frances died of cancer and is being cremated. The remains are being sent to where it all started, Camp Creek, W.Va.

She is survived by her late husband Tex Daniels, two sons, Joseph and James, James’ daughter-in-law Traycee, and 12 grandchildren.

Photo by Yaro Hospodarsky c/o John Bubb

This entry was posted in Gayety, Hamm's, Nightlife, Obituaries. Bookmark the permalink.

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