Thomas "Cozy" Morley, 87, popular South Jersey comedian and musician.

Thomas "Cozy" Morley
Thomas "Cozy" Morley
Posted: August 27, 2013

THERE WAS the Sam Ting joke.

A Chinese man has the name Isadore Schwartz. How could that be? Well, said the man, he was on Ellis Island and the officers asked the fellow in front of him for his name, which was Isadore Schwartz. When they asked the Chinese man for his name, he said "Sam Ting."

Get it?

Or how about the cop writing a report on a horse that died on Moyamensing Avenue? The cop couldn't spell Moyamensing, so he dragged the dead horse to 2nd Street.

Or the man who went into an Italian restaurant and ordered chicken in the basket. Every leg was broken.

Cozy Morley didn't bother about being politically correct. He learned jokes on the streets of South Philadelphia, where neighbors were Jewish, Polish, Italian and African-American.

"I suppose none of my jokes are politically correct now," he once told the New York Times. "But when I learned them, that was what was politically correct, to make fun of yourself and everyone else."

Thomas Francis "Cozy" Morley, who became an iconic part of the South Jersey entertainment scene, a jokester who could pack his 1,200-seat Club Avalon in North Wildwood every night and became a hit in the Atlantic City casinos, died last week. He was 87. He had homes in North Wildwood, Haddon Township and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Cozy was so revered at the Shore that a life-size bronze statue of him stands outside Westy's Irish Pub in North Wildwood, where the Club Avalon stood before it went out of business in 1988 and was razed.

Cozy also performed at benefits for various charities over the years.

Another entertainment icon, Jerry Blavat, told the Press of Atlantic City that Cozy represented "a time when you entertained people, and you didn't need to entertain them with risque material. He was a family comedian.

"He did impressions, made jokes, played the ukulele and the guitar. There's no one to replace guys like this."

Cozy was a musician as well as a comedian. He played a number of instruments, and was famous for his rendition of "On the Way to Cape May."

He wrote songs and booked musicians into his Club Avalon, including the Glen Miller Band, Al Martino, Julius LaRosa, Al Alberts, Johnny Ray, as well as fellow jokester Joey Bishop.

Cozy and Alberts (of the Four Aces) used to race trams on the Atlantic City Boardwalk at a 15-mph clip with tourists and residents hanging on to raise money for charity.

He bought Club Avalon in the early '50s. It was a ramshackle joint with a leaky roof that Cozy never bothered to spruce up. He called it "the Toilet," but there was standing room only on many nights.

He and his wife, Bobbie, a cocktail waitress at the club, were married in the '80s.

Cozy was born on Two Street in South Philadelphia and attended Southeast Catholic High School, where he studied clarinet and saxophone. He always said he became a performer to overcome his natural shyness.

He once said, "Other than being a doctor, the greatest thing is to make people laugh."

A tribute to him is being planned for Mummer's Weekend, the weekend after Labor Day.

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