Today is the birthday of Laddie Cliff (Clifford Perry, 1891-1937). A native of Bristol, England, he began performing at the age of six. dancing in a minstrel show**, and subsequently became known as a comedian, singer and dancer in music hall. In 1907 he crossed the pond to play American vaudeville and remained on the U.S. circuits for 9 years, playing at such venues as New York’s Colonial theatre, the Folies Bergere and the Palace.
In 1916 he returned to England to serve in World War I. After the Armistice, he performed in, choreographed, and eventually produced numerous West End musicals, often in collaboration with Stanley Lupino (father of Ida and cousin of Wallace Lupino and Lupino Lane). When he died at age 46 in a Swiss sanitarium he was called “one of the most popular comedians of the London stage”.
To learn 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.
**Obligatory Disclaimer: It is the official position of this blog that Caucasians-in-Blackface is NEVER okay. It was bad then, and it’s bad now. We occasionally show images depicting the practice, or refer to it in our writing, because it is necessary to tell the story of American show business, which like the history of humanity, is a mix of good and bad.