About Ralph Chicorel
Now living in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, Ralph Chicorel was born in 1930 in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up the second youngest of six children and graduated in 1949 from Detroit’s Central High School. He wanted to be an actor and graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1955 after serving as a machine gunner with the U.S. Marines in the Korean War.
While pursuing theatre roles in New York after his tour of duty with the Corps, Ralph played the part of the good son when he returned home to Detroit to be with his father who had developed a heart condition.
Jobs back in the Motor City included being a salesman for a wholesale jewelry company as well as a record salesman for Music Merchants. But it was the venture that he started in 1957 with his late brother David that probably led to Ralph’s lifelong musical adventure. Together the brothers opened the Kenwood Restaurant & Lounge. In addition to serving up delicious food, the Kenwood’s menu also dished out tasty entertainment as Ralph and David maintained a dance floor and hired bands to work weekends. The Kenwood period ended in 1966.
“In 1957, I began to hear my own tunes in my head,” Chicorel says. But that didn’t lead Ralph to scribble music on the back of a cocktail napkin as a Hollywood script might wish to portray. Ralph’s story is more inspiring. He can’t read or write music so he’d hum his songs onto cassettes and work with trained pianists later to transcribe the ideas.
Also in 1957, Ralph and his first wife Phyllis were married and would raise three sons over the course of their 20 year marriage. After attending Weight Watchers classes together, the two also partnered in 1968 to purchase the Weight Watchers franchise for most of Wisconsin. Perhaps drawing on his love for acting and ongoing experience with community theater, Ralph appeared on T.V. as the local spokesperson for Weight Watchers. He recently became a member of the Milwaukee Broadcasters Club.
Chicorel’s first three sons now run the Hawaii Weight Watchers franchise the family opened in 1989. Ralph retired from Weight Watchers in 1992. Phyllis passed away in 1999.
In 1981, Ralph had entered into his second marriage with current wife Debbie and the couple has two sons and a daughter.
Over the years, Ralph has kept his passion for music alive and is recognized as the producer, composer, and lyricist for five albums recorded on Pleasure Records from 1970 – 1979; composer and lyricist for the stage musical and album “Jean”; composer and lyricist for the “Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations” CD in 1995 and “Anna Karenina, The Audio Musical” CD in 2003.
A multi-talented artist, Ralph is also profiled in “Who’s Who in America” as a librettist (which is the author of a book for a musical), member of organizations including Jazz Unlimited and Milwaukee’s Comedy Sportz (board), the Dramatists Guild and Song Writers Guild of America. In addition, he was the co-composer for the 2005 TV film “The Engagement Ring” and a contributing author for the book “Milwaukee: The Best of All Worlds”.
With such a diverse musical background, it’s no wonder Ralph lists his favorite hobby as collecting recordings of musical shows. And while Ralph doesn’t currently have a project in the works, you can bet his cassette recorder is nearby.