Today is the birthday of Maude Fulton (1881-1950). Together with her partner William “Billy” Rock (1867-1920) she formed a popular act in big time vaudeville from around the turn of the century through 1912. Each had substantial solo careers before, during, and after their partnership, and even their twenty minute two act offered opportunities for solo numbers. The act consisted of a series of songs, climaxing with the spectacular Apache dance — a specialty you have no doubt seen depicted in old films (it became a craze for a while). Costumed as a couple of rough Parisians — a thug and a prostitute, the two do a rough, violent, knockabout dance that is essentially a domestic violence scene with rhythm and music. (There was no “Apache” in the act; it was called that because of its savagery. Hey, I didn’t name it!). Neither Rock and Fulton were brilliant as dancers per se; but you didn’t have to be for the Apache Dance. Still, the act took a toll on their bodies. They were done performing it by around 1912.
Rock went on to partner with Frances White starting in about 1914. Maude Fulton was in seven Broadway shows starting with the ill-fated 1906 Mam’zelle Champagne (where Thaw shot White) and ending with The Humming Bird (1923) which she had also written.
To find out more about vaudeville and 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.