Frank Loesser: Sketch Artist?


The birthday of Frank Loesser (1910-1969) is today. It’s a little known fact that the composer of Guys and Dolls, Where’s Charley?, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Hans Christian Anderson worked for some time in his youth for the Keith vaudeville circuit. I find two different accounts of what he actually did however. Historian Anthony Slide says he drew caricatures. This is eminently possible. Lightning sketch artists were a staple of vaudeville, and Loesser drew thousands of such pictures during his lifetime (see his web site here). However Wikipedia and several similar sources on the Internet say that he WROTE sketches for vaudeville (i.e. comedy sketches) — quite a different thing.  And just as possible — plenty of songwriters were also writers of comedy sketches. If you’re a Loesser scholar — or even a greater one — feel free to chime in and let us know if it was one or the other, or (equally possible) both.

To find out more about the history of vaudeville, including sketch artists (whatever sort) like Frank Loesser, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


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