Stars of Vaudeville #53: Phil Baker
Not be confused with Phil Harris, the “Bear Necessities” guy, Phil Baker became best known as a radio comedian and the host of the game show “Take It or Leave It”, which became “The $64 Question”, which became the “$64,000 Question”. In vaudeville, Baker played accordion in addition to joke telling, and was for a time teamed with Ben Bernie (who played violin before becoming a popular bandleader). He wrote numerous popular songs and starred in many Broadway revues prior to his success on radio. Attempts to make it on the big and small screen were not successful, explaining his relative obscurity today. He passed away in 1963.
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.