Today is the birthday of Vivienne Segal (1897-1992). Originally from Philadelphia she was classically trained in voice and made her debut in Carmen in 1915. The following year she went straight to Broadway in The Blue Paradise and was to remain a fixture there through the early 1950s. She is best known to posterity for playing Vera in two productions of Pal Joey; other shows included A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur Court, The Three Musketeers and a revival of The Chocolate Soldier. Occasionally she would take take prestige vaudeville dates like when she played the Palace in 1922 and scored big; she also performed in revues like Miss 1917 and several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies. In the early 30s, she appeared in several pre-code Hollywood musicals like Viennese Nights (1930), but didn’t make much of a splash. By the late 30s, she was back in New York doing what she did best.
To find out 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.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy please check out 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