Kenneth Disken, 86, Dancer And Ex-vaudeville Perfomer

Posted: August 13, 1997

Kenneth Disken, 86, an entertainer and dancer who started out in vaudeville and later opened a dance studio in Cherry Hill, died Friday at West Jersey Hospital in Marlton.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Disken began performing at the age of 17. He moved to Philadelphia in the 1930s, and to Cherry Hill in the 1950s.

He met his wife, Vivian, while performing in vaudeville. The two were married in 1940, and were dance partners for more than 60 years, performing under the names ``Shannon and Mein.''

Mr. Disken performed with many big names, including Milton Berle and Joey Bishop, and in such famed venues in vaudeville as the Palace Theater in New York, Vivian Disken said. Later, he appeared on Broadway, and as master of ceremonies at local venues, she said. The duo also performed at night clubs in Philadelphia and South Jersey.

``He was sort of Gene Kelly, that type,'' Vivian Disken said. ``He loved to dance, to entertain.''

The Diskens moved to the Woodcrest section of Cherry Hill 40 years ago and opened the Diskens Dance Studio, where many area children learned to dance.

Mr. Disken was one of the founding members of the Woodcrest Recreation Association, a group of Woodcrest Swim Club members who purchased the club shortly after it opened in 1957. He was president of the association's board of directors, and served as manager until 1987, said board member Gil Goldberg.

``He put his heart into this place,'' said Goldberg. Mr. Disken liked to tell stories about ``entertainers who became famous that [he and his wife] worked with, that they knew when they were nobodies,'' Goldberg said.

Mr. Disken was also a member of the Cherry Hill Cultural Arts Commission.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Kenneth Jr.; a sister, Virginia Martens; and three grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Sunday at the Healey Funeral Home in Cherry Hill. Burial was at Calvary Cemetery in Cherry Hill.

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