Maggie Cline, “The Irish Queen”

A legend in show business history and the first of vaudeville-variety’s great lady singing stars, Maggie 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.

Cline 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 by J.W. Kelly 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 vaudeville and performers like Maggie Clineconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever illuminating books are sold.


  1. 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.


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