The Duncan Sisters as Eva and Topsy

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Today is Rosetta Duncan’s birthday, one half of Stars of Vaudeville #92: The Duncan Sisters (for the full skinny on them go here). Considered one of the greatest sister acts in vaudeville, they were best known for their Eva and Topsy routines, variations on the well-loved characters from Uncle Tom’s Cabin. To my surprise, I found some film of them playing these characters this morning. I feel it is of historical value and thus share it, even if the modern sensibility finds blackface characterizations offensive. Better to look the thing in the face than pretend it never existed.

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.

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