In this May 25, 2003 photo, Thomas "Cozy" Morley clowns and poses with the statue of him as North Wildwood pays tribute to the entertainer on the grounds of the former Club Avalon, in North Wildwood, N.J. Morley, a longtime New Jersey shore entertainer and club owner who helped put the Wildwoods on the map and was known for his rendition of "On The Way to Cape May," died Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. He was 87. (AP Photo/The Press of Atlantic City, Danny Drake) MANDATORY CREDIT
Updated: October 1, 2013 6:19AM
HADDON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Thomas “Cozy” Morley, a longtime New Jersey shore entertainer and club owner who helped put the Wildwoods on the map and was known for his rendition of “On The Way to Cape May,” has died. He was 87.
Mr. Morley, who had homes in Haddon Township and North Wildwood, died Friday, the Bradley Funeral Home reported.
Mr. Morley learned his jokes on the streets of Philadelphia, where he was born and began his musical act.
He owned and operated Club Avalon in North Wildwood for 30 years, starting in the late 1950s. In addition to his comedy act, he sang, played banjo, saxophone and the clarinet, and became known for his popular rendition of “On The Way to Cape May,” which became a regional summertime anthem.
In the 1950s and ’60s, his club attracted entertainers such as the Glenn Miller Band, singer Al Martino and comedian Joey Bishop.
After Club Avalon closed, he performed shows and benefits throughout the region.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, reporting on a show he did in 2000 in the Copa Room of the Sands Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, said his act was so well known and loved that “all he has to do is feed the straight lines, and his audience provides the punch lines.”
His North Wildwood club no longer stands, but a bronze statue of him went up at the site a decade ago.
“Cozy was the Bob Hope of the Jersey Shore and Greater Philadelphia area,” North Wildwood’s entertainment director, Joe Quattrone, who led the drive for the statue, told the Courier-Post newspaper.
He was known for his clean — but not necessarily political correct — brand of humor, which drew on the ethnic diversity of Philadelphia.
“He would insult everybody, insult himself equally. Anybody was fair game,” said a niece, Leah Furey Bruder, who told the Inquirer he died at a hospital in Camden of complications from late onset diabetes.
Philadelphia entertainer Jerry Blavat said Mr. Morley represented “a time when you entertained people and you didn’t need to entertain them with risque material.”
“He did impressions, made jokes, played the ukulele and the guitar. There’s no one to replace guys like this,” he told the Press of Atlantic City.
Mr. Morley told interviewers over the years he took up his funnyman act to cover up his shyness.
North Wildwood Council President Patrick Rosenello grew up around the corner from Mr. Morley’s club, and remembered standing outside listening to the show through the open doors.
“He was as much a part of the Wildwoods experience as the tram cars and the Fudgy Wudgy men,” he told the Press.