Obligatory Disclaimer: It is the official position of this blog that Caucasians-in-Blackface is NEVER okay. It was bad then, and it’s bad now. We occasionally show images depicting the practice, or refer to it in our writing, because it is necessary to tell the story of American show business, which like the history of humanity, is a mix of good and bad.
Artie Hall (c.1881-1906) was a blackface performer and so-called “coon shouter” in vaudeville, a field in which her future was assured after her success as Topsy in William A. Brady’s prominent adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She was the sister of Bonita of Bonita and Lew Hearn. Hall’s career was cut short when the Orpheum Theater collapsed on top of her during the San Francisco Earthquake.
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.