Biography of James Geddry
Stage Name…Jim Jedrey and Little Eddie Kelly
James Geddry, known to his friends as “Jimmy”, was born on October 4th, 1906 in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. Jimmy was the eleventh of twelve children born to an Irish mother and a French
Canadian father.
The name Geddry is a name still found in Nova Scotia, where Jimmy’s ancestors emigrated in the
17th century. His Great-Great Grandfather, Augustin Geddry, is known in Nova Scotia as a hero of
the French and Indian War. He escaped deportation by the English military by jumping overboard
from a prison ship in 1755, swimming ashore, and living amongst the Mic-Maq Indians for eight
years. He was granted land as part of reparations mandated by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Later, in
1787, Augustin founded the Nova Scotia town of Saint Alphonse, where today there is a monument
with a plaque bearing his name.
Despite his Canadian ancestry, Jimmy was brought up, mainly, by his Irish Mother, who imbued
him with the values that would guide him for the rest of his life. His mother, Mary Powers, was a
hardworking woman who was determined that her children would escape the poverty of the early
twentieth century and the depression that followed. She was successful in her endeavor and lived
to see one of her children become Superintendent (CEO) of the Watertown Arsenal, where big
naval guns were designed for the great behemoths of WWII. She also saw her youngest living
child, Jimmy, become a successful Vaudevillian. “Jim Jedrey and Little Eddie Kelly” were fixtures
in the Boston area and regularly appeared throughout New England and other parts of the United
States. Besides “Eddie”, Jimmy owned five other “Vent” Dolls and used several in his act.
Jimmy had many skills besides ventriloquism. Though he had only an eighth grade education, he
taught himself to play the piano as a teenager, somehow learned to play saxophone and actually
played in a 1920’s “Jazz” band. In his later years he was lead singer in the quartet “The Sun City
Four” and remained a member of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of
Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQA) until he died.
Jimmy was an expert Machinist and Parts Inspector and was employed by his brother at the
Watertown Arsenal when he wasn’t on tour. He used to brag that he was so good at his job that it
was kept waiting for him when he came back from a tour that had lasted nearly two years. Of
course, his brother was the “big boss”. Jimmy was also an expert stock-picker and had moderate
success in “the market” after the crash of 1929. He claimed he purchased small amounts of
crippled blue chip stocks each week with a dollar from his salary. He must have done something
right as he was able to retire in Arizona at the “young” age of fifty seven, an unusual feat in the
1960s.
During his travels, Jimmy and his beautiful wife Florence Yannis, whom he married in 1939, came
into contact with and became close friends of Senor Wences, the ventriloquist known for his hand
puppetry on the long running “Ed Sullivan Show”. Jimmy and Florence traveled extensively
throughout the Caribbean and Cuba before the embargo. They never had children but stayed
together in a loving relationship until Florence’s death in 1987. Jimmy died in 2002, on Saint
Patrick’s Day at the age of ninety-five.
Bernard Geddry, Jimmy’s Nephew, and his wife Barbara, his best friends, took care of Jimmy in his
last years and now own his collection of Vent Dolls and Vaudeville memorabilia.
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Jimmy Jedrey Biography