Well-known Broadway star William Gaxton (star of Fifty Million Frenchmen, Of Thee I Sing, Anything Goes and Louisiana Purchase, among others) got his start in vaudeville. Born this day in 1893 (the same day as Harry Rose), Gaxton was born Arturo Gaxiola in San Francisco. (The name is Spanish; Gaxton was a cousin of Leo Carillo). He started out in vaudeville in a two act with one Patricia Ann Laughlin and then went solo as a song and dance man. The Broadway parts started coming in the 20s and lasted through the mid 40s. A Hollywood career spanned the same period, neatly bookended by It’s the Old Army Game with W.C. Fields and The Heat’s On with Mae West. He passed away in 1963.
To find out more about variety artists like William Gaxton 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.