Not a vaudeville star himself per se, German-born Gus Edwards was more the Godfather of a hundred stars. He was vaudeville’s premier producer of kiddie acts. Having started out himself at Tony Pastor’s in the Newsboy Quartet, he went on to build a producing machine that developed and presented scores, probably hundreds of pint-sized vaudevillians — many of whom went on to bigger and better things. Famous products of the Gus Edwards mill include: Groucho Marx, Georgie Jessel, Eddie Cantor, Phil Silvers, Walter Winchell, Ray Bolger, Eleanor Powell, Sally Rand, Bert Wheeler, Lillian Roth and the Duncan Sisters.
Gus Edwards was also a prolific songwriter (his best known song “School Days” is still known to many). He was born on this day in 1879; and died in 1949. I visited his family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in 2015:
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, including Gus Edwards, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.