The Tragicomic End of Professor Backwards



Today is the birthday of James Edmondson, Sr., a.k.a Professor Backwards (1910-1976).  Edmondson was a comedian with a vaudeville nut act who possessed the rare ability able to write and spell backwards and/or upside down. In the television era he was a frequent guest on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Tonight Show and The Mike Douglas Show. 

A gang of moronic thugs apparently equated these occasional television appearances with great riches and tried to squeeze several thousand dollars of him. When he didn’t produce, they ended his life. This  unfortunate event prompted a classic bit of comedy on the “Weekend Update” segment of a then new television program called Saturday Night Live:

Chevy Chase: Professor Backwards, the entertainer who had the bizarre ability to speak backwards, was killed today in College Park, Georgia. Passersby apparently ignored the Professor’s cries of ‘Pleh! Pleh!'”

To learn more about the roots of variety entertainmentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.



  1. He never said to me he had a daughter, only one son. Answer me one question….what did he have wrong with his feet? You can answer by e-mail. But I do not believe you.


    • Not sure if you rec’d my email. I’d be delighted to present a more thorough and serious bio of your talented dad (if this comment is in earnest) if you can supply me with more info. I’ve been unable to find more than a scrap or two of information


      • Still waiting, he really was my father. Every one says I should tell you that again, so now I have. I think you really arn’t there, so why would you say you wanted to talk to me, then let so much time go by with out a word? Or mabey you really new him and are affaraid.. Don’t worry I am only his daughter not him…………


      • Hi, I emailed you back! We’d be happy for any information you’d like to share with our readers.


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