Archive for January, 2012

Kara: Gentleman Juggler

Posted in German, Jugglers, Stars of Vaudeville, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , on January 31, 2012 by travsd

Kara (born Michael Steiner on this day in 1867) was one of the first and most prominent of the “gentleman jugglers”. A native of Nuremburg, Germany he began by juggling stones as a child and became famous for his ability to juggle several diverse household objects or radically different shapes and weights: a cigar, a chair and a cane, for example. He became professional at around age 20 and normally worked the European circuits, although there were several tours of America, in 1892, 1900, 1906, and 1921. He was forced to wait out World War One in a French Prisoner of War camp but reemerged to rebuld his career after a four year internment. He retired in 1927, passed way in 1939.

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.

safe_image

Trav S.D.’s Gallery of Grotesques #24

Posted in ME, My Shows with tags on January 30, 2012 by travsd

Will Marion Cook

Posted in African American Interest, Broadway, Dance, Music, Ragtime, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2012 by travsd

Today is the birthday of Will Marion Cook (1869-1944).  He was emphatically not a vaudevillian, although there’s nothing about a serious musical training (he studied with Dvorak among others) that would have prevented that.  He rates a shout-out here for composing several seminal African American musical theatre shows, many starring important artists like Walker and Williams. Among them: Clorindy, or the Origin of the Cakewalk (1898) and In Dahomey (1902), the first all African-American show on Broadway.

What’s the “cakewalk”, you say? Why, this is the cakewalk:

Your ancestors would be astounded to learn you didn’t know! At any rate, as it happens, February is Black History Month. Please check in here starting next Wednesday and throughout the month for daily posts on African Americans in vaudeville!

To find out more about these variety artists and 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.

safe_image

Mae Barnes: “Greatest Female Tap Dancer”

Posted in African American Interest, Blues, Broadway, Singers, Stars of Vaudeville, Vaudeville etc., Women with tags , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by travsd

Mae Barnes (January 23, 1907, according to some sources) was a popular singer and dancer who got her start at age 12 in the chorus of Harlem’s Plantation Club. After five years of working the TOBA circuit (black vaudeville), she was cast in the show Running Wild (1924), which introduced the world to the Charleston. Her performance in a touring production of Shuffle Along prompted Bill Robinson to call her “the greatest living female tap dancer”. She was also often billed as the “Bronze Ann Pennington“. Sadly, injuries from a car accident forced her to cut the dancing portion of her career short in 1938. Thereafter, she was a familiar sight in New York night clubs, often singing funny and risque songs.  She passed away in 1997.

 

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.

safe_image

Eva Taylor (A Rose By Any Other Name…)

Posted in African American Interest, Blues, Singers, Stars of Vaudeville, Vaudeville etc., Women with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2012 by travsd

“Eva Taylor” was just one of many professional names used by this versatile performer, who could sing, dance, and cut up in musical comedy. At various times she was also known as Catherine Henderson, Irene Williams, and her given name Irene Gibbons. Born this day in 1891, she started out with Josephine Gassman and her Pickaninnies at age 8 and continued an association with the act until 1915, traveling the Orpheum circuit, Europe and the Far East. As a solo performer she performed in vaudeville and major shows like Vera Violetta (1911) and Shuffle Along (1922). In the 20s and 30s she sang on records, on radio, in black vaudeville, and in night clubs, and this was the height of her fame. She passed away in 1977.

Now, here she is, singing that popular old church hymn (kiddin’!) “Do It Again, Long Time Papa”from 1923.

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.

safe_image

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

chain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

Albertina Rasch and the Albertina Rasch Girls

Posted in Broadway, Dance, German, Hollywood (History), Jews/ Show Biz, Stars of Vaudeville, Vaudeville etc., Women with tags , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by travsd

Today is the birthday of Albertina Rasch (1891-1967). A native of Vienna, she was a classically trained dancer who came to New York to dance at the Hippodrome in 1909 and just stayed. With her Albertina Rasch Girls, she staged ballet and modern dance works at nearly all of New York’s major vaudeville houses throughout the teens and twenties, as well as revues like the Ziegfeld Follies and Gerorge White’s Scandals. In 1925 she married composer Dmitri Tiomkin and choreographed a ballet to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”. In the late twenties she began staging dances for Broadway book musicals; and in the mid 30s she began doing the same for Hollywood films.

And now the Albertina Rasch dancers perform the Hades Ballet from the 1930 film The March of Time:

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.

safe_image

For more on silent comedy 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

chain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

Danny Kaye: A Kid from Brooklyn

Posted in Broadway, Comedy, Hollywood (History), Jews/ Show Biz, Stars of Vaudeville, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by travsd

Brooklyn kid Danny Kaye (born David Daniel Kaminsky on this day in 1913) started out in small time vaudeville and Catskills resorts at the tender age of 13. After many summers working as a tumler, he met the woman who was to bcome his manager, primary writer (of both songs and comic material), and wife, Sylvia Fine (they married in 1940). It was she who penned the many tongue-twisting patter songs and foreign dialect routines for which he was most famous. Following smash success in Manhattan cabarets and the Broadway shows Lady in the Dark (1940) and Let’s Face It (1941-43), he began his movie career, largely modeled on those of Harold Lloyd and Eddie Cantor. Notable films included Up in Arms (1944, based on Cantor’s Whoopee!), The Kid from Brooklyn (1946, based on Lloyd’s The Milky Way), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), The Inspector General (1949), Hans Christian Andersen (1952), White Christmas (1954), and The Court Jester (1956, in which he introduced his famous “pellet with the poison” routine — which no one ever seems to mention, is pinched from Cantor’s Roman Scandals). His last starring feature was The Man from the Diner’s Club (1963, written by William Peter Blatty, directed by Frank Tashlin). In 1953, he headlined one of the famous vaudeville revival shows at the Palace to great acclaim.

By the 60s, his box office appeal had wound down, and he became a non-stop presence on television, appearing constantly on variety shows and in guest spots in sit-coms and dramas. He was also a familiar face as the Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and a familiar voice in the 1971 Rankin-Bass special Here Comes Peter Cottontail. He passed away in 1987.

 

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.

safe_image

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

chain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

%d bloggers like this: