The Shop Girl is considered by many scholars to be the first real direct antecedent of the modern Broadway musical. It premiered at the Gaiety Theatre in London in 1894. Producer George Edwardes developed the idea of a musical comedy which was not a burlesque but rather a full coherent story. The star was Ada Reeve who became pregnant and was replaced with Kate Cutler.
African-American performers, producers and writers Salem Tutt Whitney (born Indiana 1869 – Chicago, Feb. 12, 1934) and J. Homer Tutt (born Logansport, Indiana January 31, 1882- Los Angeles, February 10, 1951) billed themselves as brothers although they may have been half-brothers. In the early years of the 20th century they worked together to produce travelling shows, mainly across the southern United States and exclusively for black audiences in black theaters.
Harry (June 23, 1906- January 15, 1992), Herbert (February 27, 1908- August 5, 1999) and Sylvester Wiere (September 17, 1909- July 7, 1970) were a zany comedy team born in Berlin, Vienna and Prague respectively so that each had a different nationality despite being brothers. Their extraordinarily long career stretched from the 1920s right up to the death of Sylvester in 1970 at which time the brothers were appearing on television shows such as Laugh-In.
Tony Pastor (April 26, 1833-August 26, 1908) was known as the Father of Vaudeville for his contributions as a performer and manager of variety entertainment. Pastor began his career as a circus clown, later shifting to comic singer on stage, and finally to manager and entrepreneur.
Trixie Friganza was born Delia O’Callahan (Brigid O’Callaghan) on November 29, 1870 in Grenola, Kansas, U.S. She died on February 27, 1955 in Flintridge, California. In her 84 years, Trixie made her mark on Vaudevillian history with her flamboyant attitude, light-hearted comedy, and her always handy catchphrase “You know Trixie with her bag of tricks”. She was also a devoted activist for civil right
Victoria Lawrence was born in Leeds, England on November 26th, 1873 into a theatrical family. Her mother, Annie Lawrence, whose stage name was “Marion Nelson,” was a singer; her father, Joe Lawrence, was called “The Up-Side-Down Comedian” for singing on his head (Fields 30-31).
By Frank Cullen, Founder/Director, American Vaudeville Museum
This series comprises photographs, photocopies and other papers, and props related to the career of Willie, West and McGinty, a comedy team sometimes described as “The Comedy Builders.” The props consist of a carpenter’s apron and two large corncob-style pipes. The photocopies include a step-by-step record, attributed to Ted Corradine, of the Willie West and McGinty stage routine and a playbill for Judy Garland and her International Variety Show that includes Willie, West and McGinty, “A Billion Building Blunders.” A poster from this collection is stored separately with the Posters and Oversize Items series, Box 23.
These materials were [apparently] donated to the American Vaudeville Museum by Bill West's granddaughter, Robin Doolan Geoffrion.