Bud Fisher: The “Mutt and Jeff” Man on Stage

A couple of reasons why cartoonist Harry Conway “Bud” Fisher (born this day in 1885) rates a shout out here.

One is that, after his hit comic strip Mutt and Jeff, launched in 1907, became a national sensation, silent film versions of the strip, and personal appearances by Fisher himself were big time vaudeville acts.  But secondly, the characters themselves — the tall, gangly racetrack habitue Mutt and his diminutive, crazy sidekick Jeff — undoubtedly influenced some two man comedy acts. Barto and Mann spring to mind, as does the screen team of Ham and Bud.

Considered the first comic strip, Mutt and Jeff made Fisher a fortune, allowing to turn over its daily production to assistants while he lived the high life. He passed away in 1954. The strip itself was still being produced and syndicated in the 1980s.

To learn more about vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent film comedy see Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube. 


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