Today is the birthday of Canadian-American song and dance man Donald Brian (1877-1948). Originally from Newfoundland, he started out in medicine shows and then became a tenor in the Boston City Quartet. Shortly after the turn of the century he began appearing on the Great White Way, where he was soon known as the “King of Broadway”. The seminal shows he was associated with include Floradora, Little Johnny Jones, Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway, The Merry Widow, The Chocolate Soldier, and numerous others. Vaudeville was also an important platform for his talents. In 1917 he toured with a playlet called “Somewhere in Mexico” by Robert Mears Mackay, with which he played the Palace. He returned to the Palace in 1928, and was considered one of the best acts on that important stage for the entire year. By the 1930s his Broadway appearances were sporadic; the last was in 1940.
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.