Stars of Vaudeville #99: Maggie Cline
MAGGIE CLINE, “THE IRISH QUEEN”
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 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.