African American ventriloquist and magician Louis McBride was working nightclubs and vaudeville as early as the 1930s. His act included coin magic, a rope escape, and byplay with his dummy Silas Green. He appeared at venues like the Apollo and the Copacabanna, and his wife was his assistant. He died in 1983.
To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,