Anaheim High School Class of ’59 graduate Rudy Pena, professionally known as Rudy de la Mor, passed away March 5, 2013, at age 73. Rudy enjoyed a colorful and exciting life as a professional entertainer.
A classically trained pianist, de la Mor was a child prodigy who, as a teenager, performed with the Orange County Symphony Orchestra and the Denver Symphony Orchestra. He later performed at Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland.
Rudy was discovered by the late vaudeville, film and television star, Jimmy Durante. As Durante’s protégé, de la Mor became close friends with a number of stars of the era, such as Martha Raye, Alice Faye, Christine Jorgenson and others.
It was Martha Raye who was the impetus for the outrageous hats and sequined attire that became his trademark. After catching one of de la Mor’s early sets as a cabaret performer, she suggested that he focus on the comedic aspects of his act.
“What’s more, she suggested that I wear some of the curtains my mother might have had and change hats all night long,” de la Mor reported on his website.
He was known for his interaction with his audience and had the phenomenal ability to remember the name of everybody in the room in which he was performing. He became a Chicago (and worldwide) cabaret favorite and played to packed houses at the Gentry in Chicago for more than 20 years, as well as locations throughout Southern California.
On Feb. 5, he posted on his official Facebook page, “To all my dear friends: Thank you all so much for your kindness and support as I slowly recover from my illness. Your thoughts and prayers have given me strength and encouragement. I shall see you soon!! Woooosh! Love Rudy.”
He is survived by his sister Aurora “Penny” Pena Lucio, AUHS class of 1952.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, March 17, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Phoenix Club, 1340 S. Sanderson Ave., Anaheim.
To view a video on Rudy’s life, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPOzgMsbtsI
For a video of Rudy’s performing, click on the following link: