Elizabeth “Bonnie” Cox (ca. 1871-1920) started out as a singing single at Tony Pastor’s and the Proctor circuit before forming a double act with her husband, songwriter James Thornton, in 1893. She not only sang the definitive versions of his tunes, but inspired some of the most famous of them, such as “When You Were Sweet Sixteen” (popularized again by Al Jolson in later years), and “My Sweetheart’s the Man in the Moon”. While fortunate in some ways, the pairing with her husband ultimately was a drawback to her career. Dealing with his drunkenness and irresponsibility became a full time job. By the nineteen teens she was pulling out of the marriage and the act. Ultimately, she seems to have been a rare example of a husband drinking his wife to death.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.