Today is the birthday of everybody named Tex! Not just Texas Guinan but also beloved cowboy star Tex Ritter (1905-1974), a fixture of the stage, radio, record albums and movie westerns whose peak was the 1930s and 40s, but whose career spanned the late 20s until his death by heart attack in 1974 (two years too early to see his son John become a comedy star on his hit series Three’s Company). Tex’s status as a “vaudevillian” is nebulous — he definitely played live dates in the south prior to moving to New York in 1928 to be in the Broadway shows The New Moon (1928) and Green Grow the Lilacs (1931), and he definitely made appearances at presentation houses in the 30s.
Then there were the dozens and dozens of pictures, starting with Song of the Gringo in 1936. This song “Rye Whiskey” is from that film.
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.