The Dapper Dans

BACKSTORY (1959–Present): This Main Street Barbershop Quartet has been entertaining guests since 1959, both on- and off- a custom Schwinn four-seater ordered especially by Walt Disney. Disneyland’s Tommy Walker contacted Park talent supervisor Chuck Corson and said that a barbershop quartet was needed. Corson contacted some of his fellow singers from the Fred Waring Chorale and they came to Disneyland. After a few changes, the group was John Borneman (tenor), Roger Axworthy (lead), T.J. Marker (bass) and Ted Nichols (baritone). Future members often came from nearby Chapman College. Coached in the late 50’s by The Barbershop Harmony Society (formerly S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A.) member Earl Moon, the Dapper Dans have remained more of a men’s vocal quartet. The Dapper Dans rival the Golden Horseshoe Revue in their longevity at the park. They have also appeared as Danny and the Dappers (for the 1987/88 Blast to the Past), sung sea chanteys as the Jolly Tars, cowboy music as the Cowboy Buckaroos, and become the scary Monster Shop Quartet during the Halloween Treat events. Perry Carter was the group’s leader from 1963–1969, organizing their arrangements and preserving the music for future Dapper Dans. Fred Frank, Dapper Dan #7, informed me that the Dans sang many original and custom arrangements by Val Hick. Some of the early arrangements also came from SPEBSQSA publications. Frank himself wrote some of the arrangements.

The Dapper Dans use Deagan Organ Chimes as part of their act. Each of the eight chimes has three octaves of a single note, comprising a C scale. The Organ Chimes were made by the J.C. Deagan Company in Chicago, IL around 1901. On July 4, 2009 at Anaheim’s Honda Center, the Dapper Dans were presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of 50 years of entertaining guests at Disneyland.