Stars of Vaudeville #121: Victor Moore
Victor Moore and his wife Emma Littlefield appeared in vaudeville in a sketch called “Change Your Act”, about a vaudeville team that needed to change its act. Moore and Littlefield performed this act (without changing it) for 23 years! Pirandello, eat your heart out.
Born in Hammonton, New Jersey in 1876, as a teenager Moore started working in stock companies. He went into vaudeville in the 1890s, and performed “Change Your Act” (subtitled “or, Back to the Woods”) from 1902 through 1924.
George M. Cohan gave his career a boost when he cast him with Faye Templeton in 45 Minutes from Broadway in 1905. The following year he did The Talk of New York, then toured with Shorty McCabe, and Patsy on the Wing. But then the legit parts dried up and he returned to vaudeville for almost another 20 years.
He was a strange, thickset little man with an odd-shaped head, and a voice sort of like Jackie Coogan’s. By middle age, he could add a balding pate to this roster, and suddenly in the mid 1920s he found himself in great demand for the comic parts in musicals.These included: Easy Come Easy Go (1925); Oh, Kay! (1926); Funny Face (1927); Hold Everything (1928); Of Thee I Sing (1931); Anything Goes (1933); Leave it to Me (1938); Louisiana Purchase (1940); Nellie Bly (1946); and On Borrowed Time (1953). In between there were film roles, such as Swing Time (1936); Make Wat for Tomorrow (1937); Louisiana Purchase (1941); and The Seven Year Itch (1955). He died in 1962.
To learn about the roots of variety entertainment, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.