Eubie Blake at 94!
Nowdays, like as not, young people are apt never to have even heard the word vaudeville. Though people my age were born long after vaudeville died, we were very much aware of it as kids, and Eubie Blake would be one of the reasons why. Though he was already playing piano at the turn of the 20th century, he didn’t die until 1983, the year of my high school graduation. And he was on television quite a lot (especially after 1973, when the movie The Sting revived interest in ragtime).
This clip shows him in action not long before he passed. Let the buyer beware: although Blake always professed to have been born in 1883, all government records list his birth as 1887. Thus he is not 98 as the announcer claims here, but rather a mere youthful 94. He still deserves the standing ovation. Can you imagine fingers that old playing like that? I can’t even text without typos!
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.