Today is the birthday of Robb Wilton (Robert Wilton Smith, 1881-1957). Hailing from Liverpool, Wilton was a popular comic monologist in British music hall. He toured American in vaudeville in 1923, but his appeal seems not to have translated well on this side of the Atlantic. By the 30s and 40s, he was one of England’s most popular comedians, both in radio and in pictures. Here’s his famous “fireman” sketch, which dates all the way back to his music hall days:
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