Today is the birthday of Lydia Yeamans Titus (1857-1929). Titus was second generation show biz royalty. Her father was the young American circus clown Ned Yeamans, who met Lydia’s mother Annie Griffiths, an equestrienne, while on tour in Australia. The product of their union bore Lydia and two sisters, Jennie and Emily. Ned died while touring the American West, leaving Annie Yeamans to fend for herself: she ended up becoming a major star of American vaudeville and the legit stage, notably with Harrigan and Hart’s company. The three Yeamans daughters joined their mother on the stage as a child actresses, although both Jennie and Emily died relatively young.
Starting at around age 18, Lydia began a solo career with Tony Pastor’s vaudeville company. She was to remain a star of vaudeville for around a quarter century, with Frederick Titus as her accompanist, manager and husband after the mid 1880s. Songs she was associated with included “Sally in Our Alley”, “In May”, and “Peggy Cline”.
In 1911 she began acting in films with the Vitagraph company in Brooklyn and the remainder of her career was spent as a supporting player in silent films. She appeared in well over 100 films through her death in 1929. Her last appearance was in the posthumously released talkie Lummox (1930).
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.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy 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