Stars of Vaudeville #997: Floyd Gibbons


Today is the birthday of Floyd Gibbons (1887-1939). Gibbons is an example of the true scope of variety possible in big time vaudeville. He was a a journalist (most famous as a war correspondent) and radio announcer. His act, and it wasn’t a rare one, was to recount his true life adventures through monologues and films.

He started out as a police reporter at the Minneapolis Daily News, then moved to the Minneapolis Tribute, and finally to the Chicago Tribune in 1912, which is where he gained fame covering such world events as the Border Wars with Pancho Villa in 1916, and America’s involvement in World War One (1917-1918). He was famous for being in the thick of the action: he was a passenger on the R.M.S. Laconia when it was torpedoed by Germans, and he lost an eye in the Battle of Belleau Wood. Thereafter, his trademark became a white eye patch:


In 1919 he was made Chief of the Tribune’s foreign service, a post he held until 1926. After this he wrote several books, became a radio commentator on NBC (finally getting his own show 1929-1930), and narrated documentary films, such as With Byrd at the South Pole (1930). By this point, he was a nationally known public figure, and that is when he played the Palace during its last years of 1931 and 1932. His last major endeavor was narrating a series of Vitaphone re-enactment shorts, a series called Your True Adventure, which was produced from 1937 through his death in 1939.

For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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