Before starting his famous Hollywood BBQ restaurant in 1936, Russian born Dave Chasen was best known for being Joe Cook’s silent stooge in big time vaudeville and Broadway shows and the 1930 film Rain or Shine. He moved to tinseltown in the 30s and appeared in a couple of pictures before opening his famous nightspot at the instigation of his friend and supporter Frank Capra. Chasen’s comic character was a non-speaking, clumsy simpleton who would wave stupidly at the audience and other performers, a move sometimes known as “the Idiot’s Salute”, and also associated with Harry Langdon and Stan Laurel. Born on this day in 1898, Chasen passed away in 1973. His restaurant survived him another 22 years.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville and professional stooges like Dave Chasen, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.