Today is the birthday of motion picture pioneer Siegmund Lubin (Siegmund Lubszynski, 1851-1923). originally an optometrist, he invented his own version of the movie camera/ projector apparatus, became a business partner of Thomas Edison in 1896 and began producing his own films in 1897. His film studio Lubinville (built 1910) was based in Philadelphia. He rapidly expanded to additional facilities in Jacksonville, Florida and Los Angeles.
Setbacks in 1914 (first a fire and then the loss of the European markets with the onset of World War One) took him out of the running and he was finished in pictures by 1917. But not before he could provide work for the likes of Oliver Hardy, Lloyd Hamilton, Raymond Hitchcock, Billie Reeves, Raymond McKee, Lottie Briscoe, Kewpie Morgan and George Nichols.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy please 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
To find out 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.