Alias Paul Armstrong

Some words in remembrance of forgotten man of the theatre Paul Armstrong (1869-1915). Missouri born Armstrong started out as a boat captain on the Great Lakes (his father’s trade), then became a newspaper reporter, and finally an actor and playwright for the theatre. His Broadway plays included The Blue Grass Handicap (1904), The Superstition of Sue (1904), The Heir to the Hoorah (1905), Salomy Jane (1907), Society and the Bulldog (1908), Via Wireless (1908), Going Some (1909), Alias Jimmy Valentine (1910), The Deep Purple (1911), The Greyhound (1912), The Escape (1913), The Bludgeon (1914), and The Heart of a Thief (1914). Of these, Alias Jimmy Valentine is probably the best remembered, as it was based on an O. Henry story, and made into films in 1915 and 1928. The Deep Purple is considered one of the earliest crime plays.

According to the Sobels’ Pictorial History of Vaudeville, Armstrong wrote and appeared in many one-act plays in vaudeville. 

Armstrong’s first wife was Rella Abell, who later became a playwright herself, and was a friend of and collaborator with Theodore Dreiser. His second wife (m. 1913) was stage and screen star Catherine Calvert. Armstrong died at age 46 in 1915.

To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent film, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube