Today is the birthday of Gilbert “Gil” Lamb (1906-1995). Originally from Minneapolis he began as an eccentric dancer in vaudeville during its last days. Such was his talent, though, and the impression he made with his long, lank body, goofy face and crazy moves, that he was able to step out of that ailing branch of show business into films, Broadway, radio and tv.
His first movie Rooftops of Manhattan (1935) essentially just captured the vaudeville act he performed with his wife and dancing partner Delores. Throughout the 1940s, he was to average one or two films a year, in such pictures as The Fleet’s In (1942), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), and Hit Parade of 1947. From 1949 to 1953 he had his own starring series of comedy shorts at RKO. Meantime he starred in a radio sit-com on The Rudy Vallee Show and been in the Broadway shows Folies Bergere (1939), Hold on to Your Hats (1940) and Sleepy Hollow (1948, in which he played Ichabod Crane). Television and bit parts in movies made up the bulk of the remainder of his career, ranging from My Three Sons to Disney films like The Love Bug (1968) and The Boatniks (1970). His last role was in the all-star TV movie For the Love of It (1980).
To find out about the history of vaudeville and dancers like Gil Lamb, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.