Herman Ganser was born in Austria in May 1909. He came to America with the trade of machinist and married Rita Conrad in June 1936, and they settled in Manhattan.
A short time later a baby boy, Robert, was born. After World War II they decided to move out to Queens and bought a house at 116-19 219 St. in Cambria Heights. The couple was blessed again with identical twin girls born on Feb. 4, 1948, named Mary Ann and Margie. The twins teamed with Mary and Betty Weiss from the neighborhood and formed a singing group called The Shangri-Las — named after a restaurant on Merrick Road in South Jamaica.
What set them apart from the goody-goody girls of the day was their tough-girl persona and melodramatic songs of teen tragedies. “Leader of the Pack” skyrocketed to No. 1 on the U.S. charts in 1964.
In 1968 the group broke up and the members went their own ways. Mary Ann passed away in March 1970 at age 22 of a drug overdose. Margie went to work for NYNEX and passed away from breast cancer in 1996 at age 48. They always felt cheated over not receiving their fair share on royalties of the millions of records they sold.
Their childhood home has fared much better, appreciating to a value of $503,000 today.