Bessie Wynn (1876-1968) was billed as “The Lady Dainty of Vaudeville” and “The Venus with the Velvet Voice”. Born in Chicago in June, 1876, she took singing lessons and sang in church choirs in her youth, breaking into show business in the chorus of the Anna Held vehicle Papa’s Wife in 1899. Another half dozen Broadway shows followed before she hit a real streak of memorable productions: The Wizard of Oz(1902-03), Babes in Toyland (1903-05), and Wonderland (1905). In 1907, she broke into vaudeville, where she was a headliner on the Keith circuit until its last days in the early 1930s. One of the most highly paid big time vaudeville stars, she introduced many popular songs of her day including “Are You Sincere?” and “Tell Me”. After this, she retired to the proverbial chicken farm, although she did re-emerge for one last day in the sun during one of the Palace’s vaudeville resurrections in 1949.
To find out more about vaudeville 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 Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.