Today is the birthday of blues singer, comedian, male impersonator and all around vaudeville performer Princess White (1881-1976). She started out at age 5 as a toe-dancing “pick” with Salica Bryan and her Pickaninnies, an act with which she had traveled the world by her teen years. The bulk of her career from the turn of the century through the 1930s was spent working TOBA (black vaudeville time) and tent shows. Artists she worked with included Black Patti, Butterbeans and Susie, Ida Cox, the Tutt Brothers and the Whitman Sisters. During the Second World War she performed with the USO. Her last years were spent running bars and nightclubs in the Newark area.
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.