What, I ask you, could be more vaudevillian than a banjo-playing Harry Langdon impersonator? Answer: nothing! Born this day in 1908, Gene Sheldon’s act was that he would come out and convince the audience that he was scared and incompetent…and then wow them with his banjo playing prowess. Born Eugene Hume, he began his performing career as an assistant to his magician father. In addition to his time in vaudeville, he appeared in nightclubs, Broadway revues, extensive television (especially for Walt Disney) and several Hollywood films. He died in 1982.
Now here he is on The Perry Como Show
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
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