Milton Berle is remembered fondly as one of the best comedians of the Vaudeville era and also played an important role in continuing vaudeville into early television. Vaudeville was the most popular form of American Entertainment from the 1860s to the 1930s and even continued up to the '60s.
In the 1890s it wasn't easy to travel across America in vaudeville shows but Charlie Murray (Laurel, Indiana, June 22, 1872 - Los Angeles, July 29, 1941) and Ollie Mack (born Oliver Turnbull) not only did it but were one of America's major comic successes. Although just about completely unknown today even by vaudeville afficianados, they were stars for 21 years. The family moved to Cincinnati while he was little but Murray had very little schooling and was in traveling shows and circuses on his own at age 11 and quickly learned to do bareback riding stunts and acrobatics.
This collection comprises papers, photographs, and a scrapbook, documenting the career of Nick Ricci and his musical group in the mid-1930s. There are contracts and business correspondence, a receipt for membership in the Chicago Federation of Musicians in 1936, and a handwritten log of income. The photographs are mostly promotional portraits of the group; there are also some stage shots of them as part of a larger ensemble, including their performance with the Chef Milani show. There is a large poster (3-1/2 by 2-1/3 feet) for the "Skipper" Don Mills show featuring the Four Gondoliers as well as "Blib and Blob" and others, from April 1934, which was originally stored folded in the scrapbook. The collection also includes Nick Ricci's violin. These materials were donated to the American Vaudeville Museum by his sons, Larry Ricci, Paul Ricci and Henry Ricci.
This collection contains material related to the career of Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. It includes signed photographs, playbills, posters and sheet music from Hellzapoppin. It also includes correspondence between Frank Cullen and the daughter of Ole Olsen, Moya Olsen Lear, and his grandson, Stephen Ron Olsen.
Paul Gerard Smith's materials include correspondence between his grandson, Paul Gerard Smith III, and Frank Cullen (American Vaudeville Museum), and drafts of his biography by Paul Gerard Smith III and Frank Cullen. Also included are a chronology, "Adventures in Show Business"; performer and sketch indexes; and a list of credits compiled by Paul Gerard Smith. There are photocopies of typewritten scripts with handwritten notations from the early 1920s and 1930s. . An album of clippings includes his pre-vaudeville years, beginning in 1918 when he enlisted in the Marines, and mentions his service in Germany where he produced the Sixth Marine Revue for fellow "doughboys" in 1919. Most of the clippings are from the 1920s and 1930s, with the source not generally given; some playbills are included.
Dating back to the Han dynasty, plate spinning has been a staple act within variety shows that have spanned across the nation. From Jiaodi in China to Vaudeville in America, the art form has inspired many to pick up some plates and start their own touring companies. Plate spinning is a circus art where a person spins plates, bowls and other flat objects. Despite sometimes being faked for applause; many troupes have utilized plate spinning as a way to heighten a variety act accompanied with other acrobatic skills.
Richard Carle (Born in Somerville, Mass., July 7, 1871 – died North Hollywood, California, June 28, 1941) was a major force in the Broadway and Chicago theatre of the later 19th to early 20th century and after 1915 he became a character actor in at least 132 films until the time of his death. Although only remembered today by movie buffs, usually as one of the character actors one cannot recall the name of, Carle was a seminal influence and a remarkably hard worker who truly paid his dues in every aspect of vaudeville, theater and film.
Vaudeville produced every kind of dancer from the Classical exoticism of Isadora Duncan to the waltz clogging of Pat Rooney to the bouncy tapping of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.
Samuel Lionel Rothapfel, Bromberg, Germany (?), July 9, 1882 – New York City, January 13, 1936) was better known as Roxy Rothafel. He was not a performer or vaudevillian of any sort but rather an organizer, entertainment entrepreneur and theatrical manager who was highly successful at bringing entertainment to the masses. In addition he was interested in scoring music to film and did so working with the early Movietone process of scoring directly onto film, which was a different process from Warner Brothers Vitaphone which was a synchronous recording.
Mark Twain once famously said that there were five kinds of actresses- bad, fair, good, great and Sarah Bernhardt. Sarah was born to a family of modest income in Paris, October 22, 1844. Her Dutch mother was only 16 when she gave birth to Sarah and early in her life studied to be a nun in a convent in Versailles but her love of the theater led her to study acting at the Paris Conservatoire, the most prestigious such school in France.