Vaudeville’s premier comedy team Weber & Fields had a host of imitators (Kolb & Dill among them), but none were more pernicious than the Rogers Brothers. Not only did they steal material, costumes and the format of Weber & Fields shows, but they also had the backing of major producers, competitors who would have been only too glad to ruin Weber and Fields if they could, among them Harry Kernall and Abe Erlanger. Furthermore, the team kept performing after Weber and Fields broke up, seemingly filling a psychic void for desperate fans.
The two teams had actually been friends in the early days, Gus (1869-1908) and Max (1873-1932) Solomon were actually from the same Lower East Side neighborhood as Joe Weber and Lew Fields, and came up just a few years after. Gus had actually started out with an impression of Irish performer Pat Rooney Sr., but when Max joined the act they started doing Dutch routines at venues like Tony Pastor’s. This kind of act was very common at the time; they weren’t slavishly copying the more famous team yet. It wasn’t until Weber and Fields gave word that they were leaving Harry Kernell’s show that Kernell hired the younger team expressly to copy their act. And that’s what they did until Gus died in 1908.
To learn more about 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.