Archive for March, 2012

Wit’s End Tonight

Posted in PLUGS, SOCIAL EVENTS with tags , , on March 31, 2012 by travsd

Wit’s End and the Dorothy Parker Society invite you to celebrate the social life of the Jazz Age at the Bootlegger Social with the Red Hook Ramblers!

Saturday, March 31st, 7pm-Midnight
Always the last Saturday of the month!
Flute Midtown
… 205 West 54th Street (near Broadway)

Come in your finest 1920s & 1930s vintage or vintage inspired evening attire and celebrate in style with live hot jazz, vintage cocktails and good times!

Free dance lesson at 8:30 with instructors Jeri Lynn Astra and Neal Groothuis

Live hot jazz from the Red Hook Ramblers! (

Dress code:
Coat and tie for gents, cocktail/evening attire for ladies
1920s, 30s and 40s vintage is encouraged!

$12 at the door
Tickets can be purchased in advance online via

Table reservations are available and encouraged; telephone Flute Midtown reservation line at 212.265.5169 to reserve a table.

Twitter @clubwitsend
For more information, visit

Stars of Vaudeville #466: Eddie Quillan

Posted in Comedy, Hollywood (History), Silent Film, Vaudeville etc. with tags , on March 31, 2012 by travsd

Today is the birthday of Eddie Quillan (1907-1990). Quillan was a man with many show biz lives. 1) He started out with his parents and siblings in the family vaudeville act “The Rising Generation”, starting age seven. 2) In 1922 the whole family took screen tests for Mack Sennett. Eddie was the only one who got the call. He co-starred in about two dozen comedies for Sennett through the 20s, often as a sort of imitation Harry Langdon. 3) He graduated to good roles in major pictures in the late 20s and 30s, including Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940 — he played the no goodnik brother-in-law Connie who runs off on Rose-of-Sharon when she gets pregnant), 4) A “B” movie career in the 40s. 5) A series of comedy shorts for Columbia, teamed with Wally Vernon, produced by Jules White (1948-1956), 5) bit roles in films through the 60s, including several Don Knotts pictures, 6) tons of appearances on television from the late 50s through the late 80s. It is a certainty that you have seen his face many times!

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. Also please keep a look out for Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies From Nickelodeon to Youtube, coming out in September 2012


Viva Patshiva (Re) Opens Tonight!

Posted in BROOKLYN, Folk (Ethnic), Indie Theatre, Music, PLUGS with tags , , , on March 30, 2012 by travsd

Kalan, left. Chemda, right.

Viva Patshiva is the infectious Romany-inspired musical by old pal Mr. David Jenness. Its virtues are many…from the traditional Hungarian folk melodies you’ll never get out of your head, the outta hand pipes of free-spirited Israeli-American singer Chemda, and the authentic folk dancing choreographed by Jenness’s lovely wife Andrea Kalan (the dancing with the bottles balanced on the head is worth the price of admission alone, but so are the other elements I named). The Prospero of all the magic is Jenness, who knows his way around a one-liner, to boot. He wrote the book and mines the magic in the music with a little help from his friends. It’s playing at the new One Arm Red space in DUMBO through April 7 — see here for more info. Or see poster below — the dude with the jug is another old pal Raven Solano, another of the show’s many virtues!

Heroic Myths of War of 1812

Posted in AMERICANA, EXHIBITIONS & LECTURES, PLUGS with tags , , , on March 29, 2012 by travsd

My old pal the public historian Kathleen Hulser is giving this fascinating-sounding free talk at the New School on Tuesday (April 3). Highly recommended! :

Heroic Mythology in the Napoleonic Era:
American Glory in Benson Lossing’s Pictorial Fieldbook of the War of 1812

Why leave war to the military historians? The strange and forgotten War of 1812 provided some invented heroes, even as the Americans failed in their invasion of Canada, and a Pan-Indian Confederacy almost managed to prevent American expansion in the Great Lakes Region with the help of the British.

New Yorkers at first threatened secession, then outfitted privateers, and finally did some frantic last minute defense contracting to build forts on Governor’s Island, Harlem and right underneath the start of today’s High Line for a British attack that never came.

Benson Lossing was a popular historian who used his artistic chops to create images that underpinned myths of national glory in a profusely illlustrated volume that chronicled the War of 1812 as a chapter of American manifest destiny. This talk features Tecumseh, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson and Daniel Boone in ways you may never have thought of them before.

Tues. April 3. 6pm
New School
80 Fifth Ave, Room 802, Eighth Floor (near Fifth Ave.)

Stars of Vaudeville #465: Joseph Cawthorn

Posted in African American Interest, Broadway, German, Hollywood (History), Vaudeville etc. with tags on March 29, 2012 by travsd

Cawthorn in Elsie Janis's 1911 "A Star for a Night"

Today is the birthday of Hollywood character actor Joseph Cawthorn (1868-1949). His film career ran from 1927 through 1942, and he had prominent roles in such films as the Fairbanks-Pickford version of The Taming of the Shrew (1929, the first talkie for both stars); Dixiana with Wheeler and Woolsey (1930); one of the scariest horror movies of all time White Zombie (1932); Gold Diggers of 1935; and the bio-pics The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and Lillian Russell (1941).

Born into a family of minstrel show performers he came into the business at age three as a “pick”, toured the U.S. and England, as a child, then went into vaudeville his brother with a blackface two-act in the early 1880s, singing, dancing and doing comedy cross-talk. Mid-decade he went into burlesque where he thrived for over a decade. Both vaudeville and burlesque experience added a “Dutch” (German) characterization to his repertoire, and it was to become a mainstage of both his stage and screen careers.

From 1898 through 1922 he was a major star of Broadway. Victor Herbert’s The Fortune Teller (1898), the extravaganza Mother Goose (1903), and a stage adaption of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo (1908). The stage work dried up for him in the twenties, and that’s what sent him west.

Here’s a little musical snippet from the 1934 movie Sweet Adeline, in which he and his co-stars sing Kern and Hammerstein’s “Twas Not So Long Ago”

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.


“Nice Work” Previews Start Today

Posted in Broadway, PLUGS, Tin Pan Alley with tags , , , on March 29, 2012 by travsd

Opens for previews today. Looks promising…music by the Gershwins, book “inspired by material by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse“, Mathew Broderick and Estelle Parsons in the cast. And for once, a Broadway show has a proper web site: go here for all the rest.

Pops Whiteman in 2-strip Technicolor!

Posted in Ballroom/ Big Band/ Swing, Hollywood (History), Music, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , on March 28, 2012 by travsd

Today is the birthday of Paul “Pops” Whiteman. (see here for full article on him). How awesome is this 1930 clip in 2 strip Technicolor! It really brings out the BLUE in the RHAPSODY IN BLUE:

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.


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