Oregon History Portland History

Where have you gone, Allison LaRue?

Allison Leroux [aka Allison LaRue], dancer and performer in Portland in the 1950s.

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I love getting emails like this. Last week, I heard from Apricot Irving from the Boise Voices project. Boise Voices is an oral history project that connects kids from Portland’s Boise neighborhood to the elders that lets them share and record stories on the history of the neighborhood.

The reason for Apricot’s email though was that she is discovered a cache of newspaper clippings and photographs of Allison Leroux [aka Allison LaRue] a dancer and performer in Portland in the 1950s.

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According to Apricot [and the various clippings], Allison was a dancer at Amatos in the 1950s. She also performed with the Claydettes at the Monte Carlo. I’ve done posts on both of these nightclubs in the past.

Anyone out there know of Ms. LaRue’s whereabouts or want to share a memory?

45 replies on “Where have you gone, Allison LaRue?”

Allison LaRue was a ChiOmega sorority sister of mine at the University of Oregon. She married her junior or senior year
1955 probably and had a daughter. She pursued a career in television.
In the 60’s or 70’s she was the blonde plumber lady advertising I have forgotten what product. I think she lives in Florida now and is the director of a very peppy successful dance group composed of ladies of a certain age.

Hi Betty–I’m Allison’s daughter, born in 1955. I always hoped I was illegitimate!
That wild chorine!

I AM in fact Allison LeRoux, reborn as Allison LaRue by our crack copyeditors at the Portland Oregonian.
My stage name is Allison McKay and here’s a link to my latest news…


Even has a photo, which I’d upload if I had a clue.

Yes, Betty, I directed the Fabulous Florida Follies for 10 years, and I was the Plumber’s Wife for Liquid Plummr for 15 years, thank you for remembering a dirty job.

I’m always interested in old friends, especially handsome ones who can still breathe.
Get in touch!


Hi Allison, This is Tim Ragan…I am Deanna Ragans(Peters) youngest son…My wife came across this posting while searching for info about the Claydettes…My mother spoke very highly of you…we lost my Mom over 4 years ago…miss her everyday!!! I loved hearing stories about her dancing years and have several pictures of the Claydettes on my walls…hope things are well with you!
God Bless

I am Diane Adamson Bigbee. I danced with your Mom at Ed Cheneys and also at Emery’s as well as going to Roosevelt High. I was in her wedding. I am standing next to her in the picture above. I would so much like to be in touch with you as I have a huge beautiful black and white picture of Dee that I would love for you and your family to have.

I am so sorry that she has left us so soon. We also lost Bev Baker who danced with us at Emery’s almost 2 years ago. There were 4 of us who were very close for several years, Dee and I from Roosevelt and Bev and Carol who went to Clevelend. Would love to hear from you, Diane

Why thanks! I sent a photo to “no reply”…to wit:

Here’s my photo if you can figure out how to add it! I’ll even let you put ’em side by side so you can see how much better looking I am at 102!

Hi Allison, I also danced with the Emery Clay Claydettes, with Bev Baker, Mary Vinton, Judy Robinson, etc. Judy Robinson and I were the least experienced and were chosen from the Tarkettes to join the group for the auditions in L.A., arranged by My Amato , of the Amato’s supper club down town Portland, This was in the early sixties. We stayed in a Mansion in L.A. and danced for many talent scouts, performed for Disney,Red Skelton Studios and as I remember, opened for Eddie Gourmet and Steve Lawence at the Coconut Grove also. It was an incredible experience for someone as young as I was at the time and I have fond memories of those days. There was an Allison in the line, was this you? A memory jog – my father and mother had studios on the third floor at the Fine Arts Bldg and were vocal coaches and opera singers. Of course Emery had practically the whole 5th floor. Do you remember me? I wasn’t with them for long. I am so glad to hear that you continued to dance. Terrific. I moved to Florida in l984 and tied up with Georgy Taps French in St Petersburg for awhile. I had asked to use their studio to practice, cause I missed it so much and Georgy spied on me and was very impressed with the training that I had. We really did have a wonderful teacher in Emery. Love to hear from you Judy Engebretson Murphy.

Judy–I am Diane Adamson Bigbee of the Emery Clay Dancers and you brought back great memories of a wonderful Calif. trip with the Rhythm Masters. Your recall was really correct except that we did not perform with Steve and Edie. We did all go see their show at the Coconut Grove, however. Glad to hear you kept up with your dancing. Are you dancing now? Do you remember Bev Baker? Sad to say we lost her nearly 2 years ago now. I see Annie Truax and Evie Mason atleast once a month and we try to have an ECD reunion every few years with those that we can find which include Bunny Elsenbach, Vicki Thomas and Linda Woodruff. I also do remember your parents at the Fine Arts Bldg. It was fun to see you on Allison’s page. The internet is amazing. Diane

Wow, can’t believe I found you. I am Diane Adamson. I am in the picture 2nd from the left next to George Amato and Dee Peters is standing next to me (her son Tim replied, also) next to you is Billy Daniels, Joan Mallory, ?, Sharon Carpani and Lenore Pickens. Bev Baker and I spoke often of you wondering where you and Joan were. I saw your commercials and you were as funny as ever. Also remember you wearing “pink baby rubber panties” under your costumes. I am sorry I am not handsome, but glad to be in touch. I am sad to tell you that we lost Bev, nearly 2 years ago. She was my best friend since we met at Emery’s studio in 1954. Fondly, Diane

Hi, I am Georgene Amato Raab daughter of George and Mary Amato owners of Amato’s Supper Club both in Astoria and Portland Oregon. I would like to hear from anyone who remember them and the night club.

Georgene….I am writing to tell you how much I adored your parents. They took care of us like we were there own. Your dad always announced before we performed that
we were all high school girls and you guys better keep hands off. I , ofcourse was just out of college…but the rest of the gals made me feel younger. I am presently doing an off=Broadway musical in New York (playing a half witted, drinking grandmother, wouldn’t you know . It’s called Petunia and you can google it as such, I believe. What has happened to George and your mom?? Are either of them still with us? If not….I’ll bet George is up there applauding and protecting some young talented
kids. I’ll write more later….gotta run to New York. I’m living in New Hope , Pa (who can afford NY?) I used to live there until 9=11. It was just too scary…THEN it got too expensive. Maybe it always was….I just made more money. Thanks for writing. Love,

Oh My Goodness…….Just came across this online !!! My mother, May Herrick, worked for your folks both in Portland and Astoria . She loved them so. I remember when YOU let me be a part of ‘your’ playhouse? I had to drink a glass of water with salt and pepper in it ( how daring ) as an initiation to ‘your’ club !! Memories ( :
Best wishes,
Elrita ‘Rita’ Herrick Guthrie

Dear Georgene,
i have no idea how i stumbled across this, but i did!…… so couldn’t leave without a note to you and Paul…. all good at Olga’s, she can’t remember things in any cohesive manner….she knows some or most of the facts of the past but she has a hard time putting those facts into the/a correct time reference…..makes for interesting visits with all subject and topics of conversation new and vibrant….at least to her as you update her time references…..usually of people who passed away 20+ years ago that she insists have just passed on…..happy thank giving, don’t for get to thank Columbus too!

Georgene, I am Michael Funke, formerly Michael Lehto. My mother Opal Lehto was the hostess at Amato’s in Portland in the late 1950s-early 1960s. Her second husband, my stepfather, was Wally Funke, who was manager of the Owens-Illinois glas plant near the Portland airport. He was a regular at Amato’s and that’s where he met my mother. My mother always spoke highly of George Amato. I was there once as a child. My sisters had a Shirley Temple and I had an Elvis Presley–soft drinks provided us by the bar. Both Opal and Wally have passed away.

Georgene, Get in touch! This is Sally’s daughter. Michael…your Mom and mine MUST have worked together at the club. Mom was there from day one, too. I am wracking my brain to try and bring up an image of Opal.

My guess is that Opal Lehto worked at Amato’s from around 1956 to 1959, maybe 1960. That’s based on my own recollections of where we lived, when my parents got divorced and what grade I was in when she worked nights. She was short, 5’3″ or maybe 5’4″ I guess, trim, well-dressed because her job was being the hostess at the door. I recall her bringing home to me glossy black and white photos of people who played Amato’s while she was there–Sammy Davis Jr, Juliet Prowse (sp?). Sorry I can’t add much more.

Hi Georgene,

Wonder if you remember my mother, Opal Lehto, who worked as a hostess at Amato’s in Portland in the late fifties and early sixties? She always spoke fondly of your dad. She also met my stepfather Wally Funke at Amato’s.

I just found this thread. I saw that my brother, Michael Funke, had previously posted.
Yes, our mother, Opal Lehto was the Hostess.
I have wonderful memories of visiting our mom at work.
When Hilo Hattie performed, I was invited on stage and did the Hula. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time but still remember. Tucked away in my storage is a photo of my two friends and I, my birthday party, in the original Amato’s folder.
Great childhood memories of yesteryear.

Hi Sis, I remember us going to Amato’s and getting served non-alcoholic drinks–a Shirley Temple and an Elvis Presley, one green and one red. I don’t recall your hula but I must have been there. Mom used to bring home promotional photos of the stars who performed at Amato’s. Glad you found this old string.

Diane…I can’t believe the internet….I thought I’d lost ALL the Claydettes. I was really closest
to Dee because we were both dating those STYLEMASTERS. I wonder what ever happened to them.? I am so sorry about Bev. She was a real cutey. When you were in LA, Emery came to see me. I was living in the SanFernando Valley. He said he and Tarky had divorced. What a shame. What happened to either of them??? He told me about your auditions in the LA area and later he told me about a line of young boys he had started.
The way I got out of Portland…(my ex-husband kept coming to the club and making a nuisance of himself…drunk etc.) was when we worked with The Lancers…Jerry, now deceased, got me an audition at the HOLIDAY in Reno where they worked and mom and
I drove to Reno. When we got there, the hotel had burned down the night before. I went
over to the RIVERSIDE and auditioned there. They needed a production singer in San Francisco and BIMBO’S 365 club and I flew out of Portland immediately. It all happened
so fast, I didn’t even have time to call anyone. I’m sure my disappearance was a puzzle.
I did write to Emery and Tarky afterward to tell them what happened.Please fill me in
on everyone else. I am in the throwes of writing a TV series about it all. It’s called LUCKY
(at the present) and it includes the Claydettes, The Moro-Landis dancers (S.F.) and the
line in Vegas, where I ended up…called the Shaw-Hitchcock dancers. I figure since they
are drudging up the Playboy Clubs (I worked them all…not as a Bunny…I couldn’t even sing very fast..LOL) I might as well throw something in about Vegas during the Rat Pack days…
from an entertainer’s point of view. Anyway…please send me what ever happened to…..
Oh, Joan Mallory White, when I left Vegas in ’63, was still working at the Riviera Hotel in
the line. Her kids, like Robin, were big. Robin was in the 5th grade when I left. Love, Allison

Goodness, I haven’t checked this web site in quite a while and delighted that you responded. I would love to hear about your TV series and how you ended up in Florida.

I will try to answer you questions. I have no clue about the StyleMasters, but I remember them well. Shortly after you saw Emery in California, he closed the studio and he and Tarky and The Rhythm Masters (the group of boys you referred to) moved to LA. The boys were all still in high School at the time. They played Dixieland music and tap danced. They were extremely entertaining. They did a stint in Tahoe and several guest shots on TV variety shows, but never really took of. Several went on to college, etc. and the group broke up. Emery and Tarky stayed in California, eventually divorced. Both remaried. Emery passed away 10 or more years ago, his wife Diane is still in Calif. Tarky now widowed again, recently moved to Portland where their son Emery Clay III also lives. Sorry to say I am not in touch.

I married in 66 and we have 2 sons, 5 grandkids and we live in Milwaukie, OR. I had a dance studio for about 30 years and retired a few years ago. I was burnt out and so were my knees. Also got involved with starting the Oregon Dance and Drill teams state competitions. Annie Truax Ellett (a kid at Emery’s studio) was/is still involved with dance teams after 40 years. I see she and Evie Mason (also from studio) on a regular basis. Don’t know if you remember them, as they were probably 10 years younger than you.

My email is
It would be fun to stay in touch with you.

Allison–I remember playing “Me and My Shadow” on the piano while you and a a young fellow from Boise High danced that famous old routine. I hope you are well and having a great time! I live in Georgia now. Best of everything to you! Naomi MITCHELL Moore

Oh my goodness! I just happened across these messages while Googling The Rhythm Masters and Emery Clay Dancers. I was, at the time, Judi Donald and I was the baby of the Emery Clay Dancers. I have long wondered what happened to everyone. I continue to dance (in my kitchen:) to Dave Bruebeck’s Unsquare Dance. So sorry to hear about Bev. Dianne, you were my hero. Thanks for the memories.

Hi Judi—It has been a long time since hearing from you. Don’t even know if you realize that your getting me the job as Gendrills director eventually turned into the now “Dance Drill Coaches of Oregon”. I along with Annie was one of 5 that started that organization about 1972. If you are in OR you may already know that it is still going strong. I started the All-State program and the Grand Finale, the choreo which still is used today. Annie is still coaching the Centennial Team along with her studio, Evie is in town working with her real estate husband, Bunnie is around and her daughter Kathleen has been dancing, singing and acting in NY for many years now. Not sure who else you may have danced with. Glad you are still dancing to Unsquare Dance—-it has been taught to many many by now. Bev is missed every day. Thanks for the gracious compliment.

Diane–thanks for the reply. What a blast from the past! It’s fun to hear about everyone! Do you know what happened to Pam and Joan Jeans and Sheryl Tatlock? I can’t believe I remember these names–I can’t remember what I had for lunch, but some things are in the depths of my mind. My 12 year old granddaughter is quite a dancer. She recently danced with some of the girls on Dance Moms. Sending a hug with my fond memories. Judi Donald-Cantrell

I remember Sally…Long. tall, Sally I used to call her. I did not remember, however, that her last name was Baker. I hope she’s the same one. She kept me from being the tallest of the Claydettes. Allison LeRoux McKay

Allison, Can’t be the same Sally. My Mom was only 5″1″. She worked in the office, did the hiring and firing….

My name is georgene amato raab daughter of george and mary amato owners of amatos supper club both in astoria and portland. Sally Baker was my fathers bookeeper for many years both in astoria and portland.
Sally passed away many years ago but she was a close friend and part of our family.
I hope you get this as I have never answerd this eay before. Let me know if you can.

My name is georgene amato raab daughter of george and mary amato owners of amatos supper club both in astoria and portland. Sally Baker was my fathers bookeeper for many years both in astoria and portland.
Sally passed away many years ago but she was a close friend and part of our family.
I hope you get this as I have never answerd this eay before. Let me know if you can.

So happy to hear from you – I was called Patsy, back in the day, you may remember. Email me privately if you’d like to hear what some of the old neighborhood folks have had to say about your Dad and the clubs. It’s all good!

Patsy, I would love to here good comments about my father george amato. He was well liked by everyone. I am just learning how to do this on my phone so I hope you get this. Do you still live in portland? Georgene amato raab

Patricia,im not sure how all this works but yes I remember sally baker.She was my fathers bookeeper for many years both in astoria and portland. Sally passed away many years a go.

For those of you who have inquired about Tarky. I believe her name is Tarky Hart now and she has a Facebook account,–or she did a few years ago. Marilyn Cooper

Hello everybody. If anybody is still on this thread you might remember a little kid on that California trip. My mom, Tarky Hart, is back in Portland as am I. She has spent the last decade or so volunteering for most dance and music events in Portland but that has had to cease with the current COVID situation. She has a Facebook account and if you want her email just drop me a line. I know she would love to hear from any of you. Emery Clay III

I just found this thread. I saw that my brother, Michael Funke, had previously posted.
Yes, our mother, Opal Lehto was the Hostess.
I have wonderful memories of visiting our mom at work.
When Hilo Hattie performed, I was invited on stage and did the Hula. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time but still remember. Tucked away in my storage is a photo of my two friends and I, my birthday party, in the original Amato’s folder.
Great childhood memories of yesteryear.

I’m Tessa Floreano, an author and historian, who writes about history featuring Italians in the Pacific Northwest. I so enjoyed reading everyone’s comments on this post! I would love it anyone has stories and/or original photos they’d like to share with me featuring Amato’s Supper Club. I recently met Georgene and Paul Raab and they’ve given me permission to use a number of their photos in my upcoming book (Autumn 2023), Italians in the Pacific Northwest, as well as in my Substack,, about the process of writing this book.

Please contact me through my Substack or at, if you can help with any high-resolution photos or stories.

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