We learned about the team of Hamilton and Barnes from this promotion Christmas card of theirs, which was shared on LongIsland.com. Helene Hamilton and Jack Barnes were a husband-wife vaudeville team who played the US circuits and as far away as Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand.
In his youth, Barnes had appeared in such plays as The Great Ganton (1909), The Dawn of a Tomorrow (1909), and Bobby Burnit (1910).
They were paired at least as early as 1914, when the Altoona Times wrote of their local Orpheum turn, that it constituted “one of the season’s keenest conversational and song stunts”. One finds references to them playing Buffalo, Minneapolis, Ottawa, Boston, New York, Wichita, Indianapolis, Wilmington, Washington DC, Atlantica, Cincinnati, Wilkes-Barre, and New York between the mid teens and mid ’20s.
Here’s an ad for a 1922 engagement at the Strand Theatre in Norwich, CT where they are to perform something called “Just Fun”. This one especially excites me, as it’s something my 17 year old grandmother, who lived in a nearby town, might well have gone to see:
Hamilton died in 1929, and Barnes went back to work as a solo, taking chorus parts in the Broadway shows You Said It (1931), Face the Music (1932), As Thousands Cheer (1933-34), Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1935-36), White Horse (1936-37), and I’d Rather Be Right (1937-38). He also directed A Church Mouse (1933) with Paula Stone. He was also in two films: the British musical In a Lotus Garden (1931), and the Vitaphone short Here Comes Flossie (1933) with Ben Blue, Shemp Howard, and Janet Reade.
To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.
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