Will Cressy (and Blanche Dayne): Rubes

Will Cressy (born this day in 1863) was one of vaudeville’s premier “rube” comedians and also one of its top sketch writers. Raised on a New Hampshire farm (and later employed in various manual labor occupations), he got his show business baptism performing in a rural tent show.  Typecast as “Cy Prime” in a touring production of cracker melodrama The Old Homestead, he not only found his true metier, but met the woman who become his wife and vaudeville partner, Blanche Dayne (1871-1944):


From the 1890s through the 1920s, Cressy and Dayne were a major vaudeville staple, returning each season with a brand new sketch.


In 1908, Cressy tried his hand at full length play The Village Lawyer, but it flopped, as did some tentative forays into cinema. He toured extensively during World War I to entertain the troops (one source says a mustard gas attack caused him later health problems). Cressy passed way in 1930.


Now, here’s a cool artifact! We don’t have any film of Cressy available, but here’s a book of his humor, entitled Continuous Vaudeville, published in its entirety courtesy the Gutenberg Project.

To find out more about  the history of vaudeville and acts like Cressy and Dayneconsult 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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