No, wise guy! This ain’t the same Joe Jackson who sang “Stepping Out” . And it ain’t the shoeless baseball player, neither!
This Joe Jackson was a universally beloved trick cyclist. He’s the guy who invented the breakaway bike that came away in pieces as he rode it about the stage…the handlebars, the pedals, the seat, the frame. He was remembered fondly and with awe by nearly everybody who reminisced about vaudeville. His debut had been at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in 1911.
Jackson died following a 1942 performance at the Roxy after which he had taken five curtain calls. His last words were: “My, they’re still applauding.” He was succeeded in the act by his son, Joe Jackson, Jr.
To find out more about 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.