Originally posted in 2012
“Mama” Cass Elliot (born today in 1941) is, to me, what it’s all about. There’s no doubt in my mind that if vaudeville had stayed around another 50 years, she’d be among its brightest stars (just as she was of show business as she did find it in the 1960s and 7os). I love the other “Mamas and Papas” too, but Cass’s special relevance here has to do with her personal taste, and the obvious influence of the likes of Sophie Tucker and Blossom Seeley on her persona. Here’s one of my favorite songs in her repertoire, played for laughs in 1968 with Tommy Smothers:
Cass passed away in 1974, NOT from choking on a ham sandwich as has been so cruelly suggested and joked about for the past 40 years, but, ironically, from a heart attack caused by crash dieting.
To find out more about vaudeville past and present, 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 don’t miss 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