Today is the birthday of Armida Vendrell (1911-1989), billed in show business simply as “Armida”. Born in Mexico, Armida was the daughter of the magician Joaquin Vendrell, who billed himself as the Great Arnold. The family operated a small movie theatre in rural Arizona, performing between reel changes, as was common at the time. In addition to Joaquin and Armida. Armida’s two sisters Lydia and Delores (“Lola”) sang and danced as well. From here Armida made her way to a Los Angeles vaudeville theatre, and was spotted and hired for a Gus Edwards act in New York. (Because she was only five feet tall, she still fit in to what was normally a kiddie act). In 1929 she began getting cast in Hollywood films in typical Latin “spitfire” roles and specialty song and dance numbers. She managed to remain before the cameras until 1951.
Here she is in Fiesta, 1941:
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