Today is the birthday of Valerie Bergere (Valerie Zenobia de Beaumont Lieb, 1867-1938).
Borne in Alsace-Lorraine, she moved to to the San Francisco area with her family some time prior to the 1890s. She briefly worked at a local newspaper, and then began to take chorus parts and small roles with San Francisco based opera and theatre companies. She gradually worked her way way east to Philadelphia and finally, New York, where by 1900 she was in David Belasco’s company, playing roles that had formerly belonged to Blanche Bates.
In 1902, she began to produce, direct and star in one-act plays at Percy Williams’ vaudeville theatres. Over the next two decades she would tour big time vaudeville in over two dozen such mini-productions, while continuing to take roles in “legit” productions through the end of the ’30s. She also managed several other vaudeville acts in similar sketches. Her film career was much more modest; she played bit roles in about a half-dozen films. Bergere was married three times, the first was to vaudevillian and former baseball star Jack Farrell; the second to vaudeville opera singer N. Dano; the third was actor Herbert Warren, with whom she had appeared in many plays.
For more on vaudeville history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.