Stars of Vaudeville #99: Maggie Cline


A legend in show business history and the first of vaudeville-variety’s great lady singing stars, Cline established the traditional mix of comical and sentimental “tear jerker” songs that remained the formula of such performers as long as vaudeville lasted. Cline shares with George M. Cohan the strange distinction of being as Irish as all get out despite having a Jewish-sounding last name.

She ran away from her home town of Haverhill, Massachustetts in 1879 to appear at the Boylston Museum in Boston. Her first performance on a significant New York stage was at Hyde and Behman’s two years later. Later that year she debuted at Tony Pastor’s , where she was to remain as a popular regular for many a long year mainly on the strength a single signature song, a rowdy raucous, crowd-pleasing number called “Throw Him Down, McClosky”. When she sang the refrain, everyone backstage would throw whatever they could get their hands on, onto the stage. In 1914 she played the Palace, but by then show business had changed drastically, and she retired shortly thereafter.

To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.



8 Responses to “Stars of Vaudeville #99: Maggie Cline”

  1. […] a peculiarly vaudevillian concept. Just as real Irishmen (like Eddie Foy, Harrigan and Hart, and Maggie Cline) played stage Irishmen, and real Blacks (like Walker and Williams, Mantan Moreland and Pigmeat […]


  2. Robert Behrens Says:

    Maggie Cline was a longtime friend of Lottie Gilson, “The Little Magnet”, and according to the NY Times article describing Lottie Gilson’s burial (14 June 1912), Maggie Cline was involved with arranging the funeral.

    Lottie Gilson, born Lydia Degen in Basel, Switzerland (abt. 1862), was the oldest of 6 children born to Heinrich Degen and Sophie Wildenstein. Her brother Henry C. Degan, is my greatgrandfather.

    Lottie Gilson married several times. She last married Joseph Kline Emmett Jr. in 1900 and was divorced from him in 1908. J. K. Emmett Jr. was the son of Joseph Kline (Klein) Emmet(t), known as “Fritz” Emmet(t) a famous Broadway actor and singer known for his role in Fritz, Our Cousin German.


  3. […] Rooney Senior (1844-92) was an old time variety contemporary of Eddie Foy, Harrigan and Hart and Maggie Cline. He sang character songs, did jigs and played the stereotyped Irishman to the hilt – but […]


  4. […] new in variety. A more typical female singer in those days was one of Pastor’s other stars, Maggie Cline “The Irish Queen”. Irish Mag’s sentimental repertoire ranged from humorous tunes to tear-jerkers, but her fame […]


  5. i know someone that is related to lottie gilson a vaudeville star…can you tell me all that is known about her?


  6. tell me all about lottie gilson, i know someone that is related to her…thank you!


  7. please let me know by email, i forgot to check box…thanks!


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