Born today in 1865, this largely forgotten comedian was such a major Broadway star that, like certain others of his time (Ed Wynn, Frank Fay) he produced and starred in his own revues (the “Hitchy Koo” series 1917-1920). According to Frank Cullen’s Vaudeville: Old and New, Raymond Hitchock started out as a chorus boy in Keith and Albee’s inaugural theatrical venture, their pirated edition of The Mikado, circa 1884. Staring around 1889, he shows up in Broadway shows, and he was pretty much on a Broadway stage every year from then on until he passed away in 1929.
He was a vaudeville headliner for much of that time; he starred at the Palace many times between 1918 and 1927. He also appeared in numerous silent comedies by the Lubin Studio and Mack Sennett. While he did one Phonofilm short with Lee Deforest in 1925, Hitchock’s demise four years later robbed us of the talkie star he might have been. But there are some record albums from the period showcasing his famous raspy voice. Here, from 1916 is Sometime:
To find out more about vaudeville stars like Raymond Hitchcock and the entire 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. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.