A few tantalizing fragments on comedian Charlie Crafts (1895-1974). A Boston native, Crafts first comes onto our radar as Jack Haley’s vaudeville partner around 1923, specializing in songs, dances, and crosstalk. After a mere six months on the small time, they attained the big time circuits and even played the Palace, where they scored a hit. In 1924 they appeared in the Shubert Broadway revue Round the Town with Julius Tannen, Harry Fox, Heywood Broun, et al. Here’s a rare record the pair made at the time, very much in the style of Van and Schenck:
The partnership with Haley proved short-lived. At some point after this, Crafts went into burlesque. You can see him do some of his burley material in the films Strip Strip Hooray (1950), Everybody’s Girl (1950), The Art of Burlesque (1950), French Follies (1951), Ding Dong (1951), and I’ll Sell My Shirt (1953). You can also, believe it or not, see him in the role of “Johnny” in Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda (1953). From 1958 through 1960, Crafts got a good bit of television acting work, appearing on such shows as Bat Masterson, and Highway Patrol.
I am intrigued by Crafts’ many major career shifts, from vaudeville, to burlesque, to grade z movies, to mainstream television, so let’s call this post a work-in-progress. I’ll add to it as I learn more.
To learn more about vaudeville, please see my book No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.
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