Victor Moore (1876-1962) and his wife Emma Littlefield (1881-1934) appeared in vaudeville in a sketch called “Change Your Act”, about a vaudeville team that needed to change its act. Moore and Littlefield performed this act (without changing it) for 23 years! Pirandello, eat your heart out.
Born in Hammonton, New Jersey in 1876, as a teenager Moore started working in stock companies. He went into vaudeville in the 1890s, and performed “Change Your Act” (subtitled “or, Back to the Woods”) from 1902 through 1924.
George M. Cohan gave Moore’s career a boost when he cast him with Faye Templeton in 45 Minutes from Broadway in 1905. The following year he did The Talk of New York, then toured with Shorty McCabe, and Patsy on the Wing. But then the legit parts dried up and he returned to vaudeville for almost another 20 years.
From 1915 to 1918 he also starred in numerous silent comedy films; it’s the subject of a 2023 book by Rob Stone and Steve Massa.
Moore was a strange, thickset little man with an odd-shaped head, and a voice sort of like the adult Jackie Coogan’s. By middle age, he could add a balding pate to this roster, and suddenly in the mid 1920s he found himself in great demand for the comic parts in Broadway musicals. These included: Easy Come Easy Go (1925); Oh, Kay! (1926); Funny Face (1927); Hold Everything (1928); Of Thee I Sing (1931); Anything Goes (1933); Leave it to Me (1938); Louisiana Purchase (1940); Nellie Bly (1946); and On Borrowed Time (1953).
In between there were film roles, such as Swing Time (1936); Gold Diggers of 1937; Make Way for Tomorrow (1937); Louisiana Purchase (1941); Star Spangled Rhythm (1942); The Heat’s On (1943); It’s In the Bag (1945), Duffy’s Tavern (1945); and The Seven Year Itch (1955).
Moore and Littlefield are buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Queens; I visited the site in 2018:
To learn about the vaudeville, including teams like Moore and Littlefield, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
[…] name “Brice” from a neighbor. She got a job early in the chorus of a Cohan musical starring Victor Moore The Talk of New York (1907) but was fired for joking around during […]