Rites Set For J. H. Nickel, Former Operator Of Gayety
(The Baltimore Sun, 4/8/1971)
Funeral services for John H. Nickel, Jr., who with his sister owned and operated one of the city’s landmarks, the Gayety Theater and Nightclub on The Block, will be held at 10 A.M. tomorrow at the Connelly funeral establishment, 300 Mace Avenue, Essex.
A requiem mass is being delayed until 8.30 A.M. Monday at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Essex, because of Holy Week.
Bud Nickel, as he was known on The Block, died Tuesday at the Veterans Administration Hospital on Loch Raven Boulevard. He was 53.
Leading Burlesque House
“I don’t have much heart to go down to The Block anymore. The flavor of it has been gone for me since the Gayety Theater burned on the first day of Christmas week,” he wrote in an article for The Sunday Sun in May, 1970.
The Gayety was not founded by his father but it became one of the nation’s leading burlesque houses under his management. Ann Corio, Margie Hart, Blaze Starr and the Carroll Sisters were some of the strippers that appeared there. Some of the comedians that appeared on its stage were Phil Silvers, Jackie Gleason and Red Skelton.
The theater was bought by the elder Nickel in 1910. Eight years later the son was born and he helped there as a youngster. After graduating from Calvert Hall, be began selling tickets and soon was helping to book acts.
Sister, 2 Sons Survive
“A thousand people filled the Gayety—orchestra seats, balcony and boxes—and we sold out quite often. The place was open seven days a week…” the almost six-foot, 235-pound operator wrote.
He and his sister, Mrs. Marian Nickel McKew, took over the building in 1951.
Born in Baltimore, he served in the Navy during World War II.
Besides his sister, he is survived by two sons, Robert G. and John H. Nickel 3d, both of Baltimore.