Stars of Vaudeville #780: Buddy Rogers
To the casual show biz buff, Buddy Rogers has always been a big WTF. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, after a long affair, cause a huge scandal by divorcing their spouses and getting married and THEN have the temerity to split up after 16 years. Fairbanks at least then went on to marry an aristocrat (Lady Sylvia Ashley), but Pickford, the most powerful woman in Hollywood and one of the most powerful women in the country, went on to marry…some guy named “Buddy”?
Charles “Buddy” Rogers (born today in 1904) was a popular enough star, but nothing on the scale of Pickford who practically OWNED Hollywood in the teens and twenties (and whom, though no longer a star by 1937, still ran a movie studio, United Artists). After graduating from the University of Kansas, he studied at the Paramount Picture school, and went to work for the studio in 1926, starring in Fascinating Youth, then a mess of others, including So’s Your Old Man with W.C. Fields (1926), Wings (1927) and Abie’s Irish Rose (1928). It was around this time (1929) that he made a big time vaudeville tour, as many picture stars did, to bolster his street cred as a performer,
In the sound era, Rogers diversified, still staying in pictures (although less prestigious ones) but also fronting his own big band, the California Cavaliers (he was a trombone player). In ’37 he married Pickford, 11 years his senior. In the early 40s he rounded out his career with a few of Lupe Velez’s “Mexican Spitfire” pictures. Then he served in World War 2. After the war, he made a scattered few additional appearances in film and tv, but mostly just rattled around Pickfair for the next several decades. He passed away in 1999.
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To find out more 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.
And 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