Ray Dooley (born this day in 1896) is best known today as a review comedienne who, by virtue of her diminutive height, often played babies and bratty children. From Raymond Hitchcock’s Hitchy-Koo of 1918, she went on to five editions of the Ziegfeld Follies as well as the 1928 Earl Carroll’s Vanities, often performing opposite W.C. Fields. She started out as a child performer in her father’s minstrel** act, and went on to perform in various vaudeville acts by herself or teamed with her brother Gordon, or her husband Eddie Dowling, whom she married in 1919. She was to co-star in Broadway with Dowling in the shows Sidewalks of New York (1927), Thumbs Up (1934-35) and Hopes the Thing (1948), and the Hollywood film Honeymoon Lane (1931). She was to die in relative obscurity in 1984.
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.
**Obligatory Disclaimer: It is the official position of this blog that Caucasians-in-Blackface is NEVER okay. It was bad then, and it’s bad now. We occasionally show images depicting the practice, or refer to it in our writing, because it is necessary to tell the story of American show business, which like the history of humanity, is a mix of good and bad.