In vaudeville I was very happy. I was rather self-conscious, for when salary day came around I felt as if I were cheating to take the magnificent sums I was receiving for my 27 minutes work twice a day
George M. Cohan’s favorite actor, Nathanial “Nat” Goodwin was a performer who straddled two different eras. He started acting in his native Boston in the mid 70s. Billed as “Actor, Author and Mimic” he made his first hit at Tony Pastor’s Broadway location in 1875 in a sketch called “Ned Strycker”. Of variety, he said “the salaries offered were tempting and the opportunities of advertising one’s ability much greater than in the legitimate”. On the legit stage he scored his greatest critical successes in farces in the 1880s and 1890s. He attempted tragedy on a number of occasions (e.g., Shylock in The Merchant of Venice) but was invariably savaged by critics. In the teens he returned to vaudeville, and made a number of silent pictures. His most famous role was Fagin in Oliver Twist which he portrayed on both stage and screen. He shuffled off this mortal coil in 1919.
To find out more about these variety artists and 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.