Today is the birthday of the great humorist, broadcast personality and harmonica player Herb Shriner (1918-1970). I first became aware of him, quite naturally, because of his son the comedian Wil Shriner, whom I used to see on tv in the 1980s.
The elder Shriner was too late for vaudeville, but would have been perfect for it, with his mixture of expert harmonica playing and homespun story-telling, very much in the tradition of Will Rogers. His radio career began in 1940, leading inevitably to television. He was best known as the hose of the game show Two for the Money from 1952 through 1956. After that, he was primarily a liver performer, and made record albums. he also had variety shows of his own over the years, and did guest spots on others. Here are a couple of clips revealing his two sides:
To find out about the history of the variety arts (including tv variety), 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 comedy film history 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