Chaz Chase (born this day in 1901) was a funny looking little man in over-sized clothes who — like a vacuum cleaner — gobbled up whatever was placed in front of his mouth, such as lit matches and the flower from his lapel. Seems like the stuff of sideshows, but somehow Chase actually made it work in the big time. Starting in the nineteen-teens, he started working in vaudeville and burlesque. By the early 30s he was performing in Vitaphone shorts and Broadway revues like Ballyhoo of 1930 with W.C. Fields, and High Kickers (1941), a Kalmar and Ruby show featuring Sophie Tucker and Georgie Jessel. When vaudeville dried up, his meat and potatoes became nightclubs in Paris and New York and television variety shows. He worked right up until he died in 1983, performing in Sugar Babies with Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller, and doing spots on the David Letterman show that year.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, please consult my critically acclaimed book No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other fine establishments.
And don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc