Friday, February 7, 2014

Hazel Jay

Hazel Jay was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 1, 1916, according to a 1946 passenger list (below) at Her name has not been found in the U.S. Federal Census records.

In the 1920 census, there was a Soon Sai Chung (line 17), the fourth of five children born to In Sui and Mary, both Korean immigrants. Soon Sai’s age was 3 years and five months. The census was enumerated in January, so Soon Sai’s birth was around July, the same month as Hazel’s.

Recorded on a 1940 passenger list (farther down) was the name, “Hazel Soon Sai Jay.” I believe Hazel had married one of the Jay brothers and adopted a Western name. In a 1957 gossip column, “New York Confidential”, Hazel was described as “a beautiful Korean pianist.”

In the 1930 census, the widow, Lee Shee Jay, head of the household, had three sons, all single: Amung (20), Alfred (18), and William (16).

1937 Honolulu City Directory
Hazel’s residence was 1203 Palama and she was employed at the Bergstrom Music Company. A career as a pianist was in her future. Alfred (Alf K), had the same address and worked at the Metronome Music Store. (According to his World War II enlistment record, he was an actor.) Amung, was listed between them.

1938 Honolulu City Directory
Hazel was a Bergstrom saleslady and her address remained the same. New to the listings were Aki; Lee Shee (Miss Lee), whose husband’s name was Chee; and William, a clerk at the Metronome Music Store.

Passenger List
March 1, 1940
Hazel’s full name was recorded on the passenger list. She was bound for San Francisco.

San Francisco Chronicle
June 15, 1942
Forbidden City

Seattle Daily Times
October 12, 1943
“Chinese Follies”

Reno Evening Gazette
January 31, 1944

Berkeley Daily Gazette
March 1, 1944
“Stage Door Canteen Lists Attractions”
…Hazel Jay, “Confucius Club;”...

Passenger List
February 25, 1946
Hazel traveled with dancing partner Mary Mammon.

Passenger List
August 27, 1946
Hazel departed for San Francisco. (see top)

1949 Honolulu City Directory
Hazel resided at 2526 Kapiolani Blvd.

The World-Herald
(Omaha, Nebraska)
February 10, 1950

The World-Herald
February 18, 1950

(New York)
October 16, 1950
“Voice of Broadway”
...Ex-champ Joe Louis la doing his rumba-ing these
nights with Hazel Jay, the China Doll chorine…

January 2, 1954
“Table Talk”
Two of the charms of the New China Bowl (152 West 44th) are named Gertrude Chin and Hazel Jay. Mrs. Chin’s husband is an aide to Gen. Chase on Chiang Kai-shek’s refuge, the island of Formosa. Both of these extremely good-looking gals are there to help you order your meal, and I must say their presence makes decisions not only easier but pleasanter....
Buffalo Courier Express
(New York)
July 22, 1957
“New York Confidential”
International “Incident”—John Schlesinger, the South African billionaire, is due in New York next month. He’s a central figure in London’s current cause celebre in which Seignon, the Burmese model, is named as “intervener” (whatever that means). She hotly denies it. Last year when Schlesinger was here, he dated Hazel Jay, a beautiful Korean pianist (now a Hawaiian Room hostess), and Jadine Wong, the exotic Chinese dancer and movie actress…
Buffalo Courier-Express
August 11, 1957
“New York Confidential”

September 9, 1959
“New York Confidential”
(fourth paragraph)
...Did I note that Hazel Jay, the chief hostess at the Lexington Hotel Hawaiian Room is one of the prettiest girls alive? (She's a former concert pianist.)...
At some point, Hazel retired to Florida. A public record at had this address, 6190 Woodlands Blvd. in Tamarac. She passed away April 26, 1986, according to the Florida Death Index at

Images of the Hawaiian Room and dancers can be viewed at Hawaii Aloha, Honolulu Magazine and the Tiki Room.

Although this blog is devoted to artists of Chinese descent, Hazel was included because, at the time, entertainers of Japanese, Korean, and Filipino descent were passed off as Chinese, and there was very little information about her.

(Today’s post supports Arthur Dong’s upcoming exhibition, “Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1965.”; next post: Bruce Lee)

No comments:

Post a Comment