Stars of Vaudeville #664: Leo Singer (Singer’s Midgets)
Having already done posts of just about all of the other principle cast members of the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz (most of them having been in vaudeville) it gives me great pleasure to finally do this one. Leopold von Singer (born today in 1877) began assembling his troupe of performing little people in his native Vienna in 1912. He opened an exhibit called the Lilliputstadt (“midget city”) at the Venice in Vienna amusement park. The success of this enterprise led him to tour it around Europe, hiring new performers wherever he went. When World War One hit in 1914, he brought the troupe to America, where they became a favorite on the vaudeville circuit. In the 30s, when vaudeville dried up Hollywood became a source of work, in addition to The Wizard of Oz, most of the troupe also acted in 1938’s The Terror of Tiny Town, the notorious all-midget western. Smaller contingents of company members acted in many more Hollywood films. By the late 40s the company disbanded. Singer died in New York City in 1951.
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