Today is the birthday of Harry Steppe (Abraham Stepner, 1888-1934). A legendary burlesque and vaudeville comedian, Steppe was billed as “The Hebrew Gent”. He was credited by Phil Silvers for originating the phrase “top banana”, and he also introduced his old comedy partner Bud Abbott to Lou Costello in 1934. Some claim that he wrote the “Slowly I Turned” sketch, as well as the old reliable Lemon Bit. He worked the Keith and Orpheum circuits in vaudeville; the Columbia and Mutual Wheels in burlesque.
To learn more about the roots of vaudeville and burlesque, including seminal comedians like Harry Steppe, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous