Minnie and Helen French were a singing, dancing identical twin sister act of vaudeville’s earliest years. They started out on the stage at age 14 and did so well at Tony Pastor’s that he cast them in his parody version of H.M. S. Pinafore. Ironically, this got them a job dancing a sailor’s hornpipe in D’Oyly Carte’s production of Billee Taylor. In 1882, they teamed up with the duo of Evans and Hoey for an adaptation of the popular variety afterpiece (comedy sketch) “The Book Agent”. (The sisters subsequently married Evans and Hoey). “The Book Agent” did so well in vaudeville that they commissioned playwright Charles Hoyt to make a Broadway show out of it. Called A Parlor Match, it was a hit during its initial run as well as in an 1896 revival.
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.