Archive for October, 2011

Ethel Waters

Posted in African American Interest, Hollywood (History), Singers, Vaudeville etc., Women with tags on October 31, 2011 by travsd

Today is the birthday of Ethel Waters (full bio here) Here she is singing “Am I Blue” from the 1929 film On With the Show:

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Houdini Halloween

Posted in Hollywood (History), Jews/ Show Biz, Vaudeville etc. with tags , on October 31, 2011 by travsd

A clip from one of my favorite movies as a kid, 1953’s Houdini starring Tony Curtis. This is the climactic scene. For those who don’t know, Harry Houdini passed way 85 years ago this very night

By the way, Turner Classic Movies will be playing the film in its entirety November 21, at 10pm Eastern. You know where I’ll be!

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.

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Variety Arts #22: U.S.O.

Posted in Variety Arts (Defined), Vaudeville etc. with tags , , on October 30, 2011 by travsd

This post is one in a series that defines for the layman the various types of variety arts. For the full panoply go here.

70 years ago today, the United Services Organization (U.S.O.) established its Camp Shows division. (Note that this was over two months before Pearl Harbor. It was already pretty clear where events were headed). Vaudeville had already died nearly a decade earlier. Its biggest stars now worked in films and or in radio; of the thousands of other performers, those who hadn’t prematurely retired were now hanging on by their thumbs. While it’s become well-known history that stars like Bob Hope, Al Jolson, Martha Raye, and practically everybody else began entertaining troops in our theatres of war in WWII, it’s probably lesser known that the U.S.O. employed countless out-of-work former vaudevillians: singers, dancers, comedians, acrobats, magicians, etc etc etc. By 1944, the U.S.O. had over 3,000 “clubs”, making it by far the largest vaudeville circuit that had ever existed.

For entertainers it was an artificial reprieve. Many of the vaudevillians who’d managed to hang on through the 1930s were finally forced to retire once the U.S.O. initially disbanded following World War Two. One of vaudeville’s countless “second deaths”.

Now, I’m the first to agree that the U.S.O. had a much more important mission than keeping a bunch of vaudevillians employed, and that was lightening up the lives of the troops, who have to do jobs and see things that most of us couldn’t possibly imagine. The U.S.O. is still doing that very same job right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hats off to them today!

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Fanny Brice

Posted in Broadway, Comediennes, Hollywood (History), Jews/ Show Biz, Singing Comediennes, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , on October 30, 2011 by travsd

Today is the birthday of the great Fanny Brice (for the full bio on her go here).

And now here’s Fanny singing “When a Man Loves a Woman” (not the Percy Sledge one) from the 1930 film Be Yourself:

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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The Renaldo The Ensemble Tonight!

Posted in Clown, Music, PLUGS with tags on October 29, 2011 by travsd

Ensemble logo
Tonight (October 29th) at 11pm
Renaldo Ensemble New
At The Living Room, 154 Ludlow Street, between Rivington and Stanton

No cover, no jacket required, no bull allowed, just Halloween candy!

Jack Pearl Redux

Posted in Broadway, Comedy, German, Hollywood (History), Radio (Old Time Radio), Vaudeville etc. with tags , , on October 29, 2011 by travsd

My last post about Jack Pearl (here) was perfunctory to say the least, so I thought I would try to do him a little more justice today. Born Jacob Perlman this day in 1895, he is best known for the national catchphrase “Vas You Dere, Charlie?”, which he uttered as the “Dutch” character Baron Munchausen on radio and in films throughout the 1930s. (This way to an audio clip) . A Lower East Side native, he’d gotten his start in one of Gus Edwards kiddie acts, before working with a succession of partners and working his way up to vaudeville and Broadway revues. Once his radio show was canceled, he found he was too closely identified with a fad that had passed and he found it hard to get work. There were a handful of stage, film and TV roles, but they were few and far between. He passed away in 1982.

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Horror Films at Loews Jersey City

Posted in EXHIBITIONS & LECTURES, Hollywood (History), Horror (Mostly Gothic), PLUGS with tags on October 28, 2011 by travsd

There really is no better place to see a Gothic horror film than Loews Jersey City, with its run down cathedral decor and its atmospheric elevator pipe organ. The Countess and I will be there tomorrow night for the double feature. We hope to see you there too!

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