Digby Bell: The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo

Digby Bell (1849-1917) was a Milwaukee born vocalist, popular in comic opera, musical comedy and vaudeville at the tune of the last century. He is credited with being the performer who introduced the song “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” to American audiences. He’d studied voice seriously in Europe, and made his concert debit in New York at Chickering Hall in 1878. His Broadway credits include The Begum (1887), The Hoosier Doctor (1898), Mr. Pickwick (1903), The Education of Mr. Pipp (1905), An International Marriage (1909), The Debtors (1909), and Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard and The Sorcerers (both 1915). Time off Broadway was spent on tour, either in vaudeville or with musical productions. He also starred in a motion picture version of his Broadway hit The Education of Mr. Pipp (1914) as well as the film Father and the Boys (1915), which featured Lon Chaney and Harry Davenport in supporting roles.

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