Today is the birthday of Cesar Romero (1907-1994). The “Latin from Manhattan” (half Italian, half Cuban) got his start in a vaudeville and nightclub dance act with Janette Hackett in the late 1920s.
From here it was on to parts on Broadway including The Street Singer (1929-1930) and Dinner at Eight (1932-33). This led to films, starting with The Thin Man (1934) and many dozen more. From here it was on to television in the 1950s, culminating in the one thing, perversely, he is known for today by most people. Others may have given better acting performances in this role, but no one has ever topped the laugh. Knowing that he is the grandson of Cuban poet Jose Marti, you have to look at this performance and say “Where did that come from?”
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 my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc