Richie Craig, Jr. (1903-1934) was the son of burlesque and musical comedy performer Richie Craig (who was singled out by Joe Laurie, Jr. as the first performer to do a double talk act with a phonograph for a partner). While Junior could sing and dance (and did so in vaudeville and Broadway shows) his biggest reputation came as a comedy monologist. By the time he was a teenager, he was already in the Big Time, and was regarded as a performing phenomenon by no less than Milton Berle. For a time (circa 1928) he was straight man to Joe Besser in a comedy team. He was on the very last two-a-day bill at the Palace in 1932.
Says Ron Hutchinson of the Vitaphone Project: “[Craig] had an ear condition and did a Rudy Vallee Fleischmann’s Hour radio show just a couple of weeks before he died. He wrote for Bob Hope and others and contributed to the scripts of Hollywood Party (’34) and the MGM short Roast Beef and Movies (’34). He also made several shorts, including a Vitaphone and a Columbia. He was way ahead of his time, very dry, and made the audience think.”
Sounds like a good man to have around — and his early death was our loss!
For lots more on Richy Craig, Jr, see my friend Kevin Fitzpatrick’s post here.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.