Originally posted in 2010.
Best known as an incomparable jazz piano and organ player, a hilarious showman, and songwriter of such hits as “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Your Feet’s Too Big”, 300 lb. Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller worked throughout the 1920s in the all-black vaudeville circuit run by the Theatre Owners Booking Association (T.O.B.A.), often accompanying singers like Sara Martin and Bessie Smith. By the 1930s he was contributing songs to Broadway shows and a star of radio and record albums. He died of pneumonia in 1943 at the age of 39. Predictably, he was on tour at the time. His resurrection a few decades later in shows like Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Black and Blue was just as inevitable.
Here’s “Your Feet’s Too Big”!
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc