Archive for duo

Florence Brady: Miles of Smiles

Posted in Singers, Stars of Vaudeville, Vaudeville etc., Women with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2017 by travsd

A few scraps on Florence Brady (Florence A. McAleer, ca. 1902- ca. 1943) We first learn of her in the 1920 Broadway show Her Family Tree, with Nora Bayes and Julius Tannen. She appeared in vaudeville throughout the 1920s with an act called “Miles of Smiles”. She was noted for her big personality, as funny as she was entertaining with a song. In 1926 he was featured in Earl Carroll’s Vanities.

In 1928, she recorded two Vitaphone shorts — the chief reason she is known by anyone today. A Cycle of Songs is the only that survives in complete form. She is terrific — she sings a very minstrel influenced set that includes  “Sunshine”, “Now That She’s Off My Hands”, climaxing with an animated version of “Here Comes the Show Boat”. Her other Vitaphone, Character Studies apparently included the numbers “There’ll Be Some Changes Made”, “I’m a Demon with the Ladies”, and “That’s My Weakness Now”, but the sound disk is lost as of this writing.

Somewhere in here Brady met and married another performer named Gilbert William “Gil” Wells (1893-1935). A little more is known about Wells. He also recorded a Vitaphone in 1928 which survives, entitled A Breeze from the South. In his act, the multi-talented sang, danced, played piano and clarinet, and told jokes between numbers. He was also prolific songwriter, known for tunes like “Insufficient Sweetie”, “Sadie Green, The Vamp of New Orleans” and “You May Be Fast (But Your Mama’s Gonna Slow You Down)”.

Brady and Wells started performing as a two-act around this time; I came across a notice of their performance in Flushing, Queens in 1930. They didn’t have much time together. He was dead in 1935 (and vaudeville was dead a few years before that). Brady reportedly died in the early 40s of cirrhosis of the liver.

 

To find out more about the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

 

Lewis and Dody: Hello Hello Hello!

Posted in Comedy, Comedy Teams, Music, Singers, Stars of Vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2016 by travsd

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LEWIS AND DODY

Today is the birthday of Sam Lewis (1885-1959), today best remembered as a tin pan alley songwriter, who co-wrote such classics as “How You Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?”, “My Mammy”, and “Sitting on Top of the World”. At a certain point he was partnered with a guy named Jack Altman, but for most of his career he was teamed with dialect comedian Sam Dody. Lewis and Dody were also billed as The Harmony Boys and The Two Sams.  They starred in a show called Hello, America on the Columbia Burlesque wheel in 1918. In vaudeville they introduced the Bert Kalmar and Harry Puck songs “Kiss Me (I’ve Never Been Kissed Before)” and “Where Did You Get That Girl?”(both 1913)  and the 1917 patriotic number “Homeward Bound” by Johnson and Goetz.  They are best known for a single novelty song “Hello Hello Hello”, which became their signature. They played the Palace with their act in the mid 1920s.

For more on vaudeville historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

The Cozy Sounds of Flanagan and Allen

Posted in British Music Hall, Comedians, Comedy, Singers, Stars of Vaudeville, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2015 by travsd

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Today is the birthday of Bud Flanagan (Chaim Reuben Weintrop, 1896-1968) of the British music hall team of Flanagan and Allen. 

A few years ago, someone slipped me a couple of CDs of this quirky duo and I absolutely fell in love. I find them hilarious and yet sentimental in an inexplicable way that only the English could pull off. They have this dry, quiet, understated and sweet manner, and sing these sleepy, sleepy nostalgic songs like “Underneath the Arches”, “Run, Rabbit, Rabbit” and “The Umbrella Man”, a tune I loved so much I got David Gochfeld and Michael Townsend Wright to perform it in my vaudeville show a few years back.

Flanagan’s an Irish name but it was just a stage name. His parents were actually Polish Jews who came to London as refugees fleeing a program (they actually they thought they’d bought tickets for New York. He left home as a teenager to work on ships, and wound up America, which is where he first broke into vaudeville on the small time, touring Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well. World War One brought him back to the Mother Country. He teamed up with Chesney Allen in 1926. The pair were also part of a sextet, called The Crazy Gang.  Flangan and Allen appeared in music hall, radio and films until 1945, when Allen retired. Flanagan continued performing as a solo until his death.

And here, because I love it so, “The Umbrella Man”:

For more on vaudeville historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Nichols and May

Posted in Comedy, Comedy Teams, Jews/ Show Biz, Television, TV variety, Women with tags , , , , , on November 6, 2012 by travsd

Today is the birthday of Mike Nichols (b. Michael Igor Peschkowski, 1931). I wrote a little about Nichols and May in my new book Chain of Fools. They represent a sort of bend in the road in American comedy. Interestingly, in different ways they bring it both farther away from and closer to its origins. Firstly, their style was more sophisticated, subtle, ironic, and (occasionally) erudite than their predecessors. They and the tidal wave of comedians who followed their lead represent a turning away from the vaudeville punning style and pies in the face which had come before. On the other hand, Nicholas and May also spearheaded the current movement of comedy improvisation. There are plenty of ways the current generation of videocam wielding improvisational sketch comedians resemble the early film comedians of the Mack Sennett era. Borat and Kid Auto Races in Venice have more in common than meets the eye.

To find out about  the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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For more on silent and slapstick comedy please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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Van and Schenck: Pennant-Winning Battery of Songland

Posted in Comedy, German, Jews/ Show Biz, Stars of Vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2009 by travsd

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Today is the birthday of Gus Van.

 Van and Schenck were BIG, man — they were right on top in the nineteen teens and twenties (their best pal was Eddie Cantor). Schenck died in 1930, and that was that. But their zany, catchy music had such a hold on the public, their fan club was operating as late as the 1960s. I labored long and hard* (and happily) on the liner notes for Van and Schenck: Pennant-Winning Battery of Songland, my second project for Archeophone Records (the first was Nat M. Wills).

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To order your copy today  (and read some excerpts from my liner notes), please go here.

And if ya just can’t wait, here they are feeding you “Pastafazoola” before they go on to feed “Hungry Women”:

* Special thanks to pal Gyda Arber, who helped with research!

To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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