The Bernard Brothers: Danced to Records

You may have seen the dance team The Bernard Brothers caper and hoof in such movies as Paris Nights (1951), Gobs and Gals (1952), and Decameron Nights (1953). The senior partner was Maryland native George Bernard (Bernard George, 1912-67). In the early ’30s he teamed with Bert (Herbert James Maxwell, 1917-2004), a teenage vaudeville vet from Boston. Throughout the ’30s, the pair toured the Americas and Europe, attaining popularity at clubs in London and Paris. They went on hiatus for the duration of World War Two, with George entertaining troops with a solo act and Bert serving in the U.S. Army Air Force. After the war the team reunited, and became famous for an innovative act wherein they mimed routines to record albums, often in drag. They topped music hall bills in London and Paris and performed in line-ups with the likes of Danny Kaye, Flanagan and Allen, and the young Julie Andrews. They were repeat guests on BBC’s The Saturday Show, and in the U.S. performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. They played New York, Miami and Las Vegas, the Lido in Paris, and the London Palladium. Towards the end of their career they were hampered by the refusal of some record companies to allow them to use their albums in their act. George died in 1967. Bert continued to work as a solo for years afterward.

For more on vaudeville history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.