Carlo Sells Keith: Early Vaudevillian- Library Entry

This series comprises contracts, photographs, handwritten scores, notes and clippings for stage “gags” and dialogues, and stage scripts by Keith and others. The photographs are mostly of Keith and his partner and companion, Maude Parker. There is a scrapbook of script notes and collected clippings of jokes, and several notebooks with script notes. The few handwritten musical scores are for performance “cues.”

The bulk of the collection consists of stage scripts, some handwritten, most typed, several by public typists in New York City. Most are undated; those with copyright dates noted range from 1911 to 1920. There is a substantial collection of contracts representing the various circuits that Keith and Parker performed on. The collection was given to the American Vaudeville Museum in 2001 by Keith’s niece, Betty S. Bannister, whose mother was Keith’s sister. She also contributed a biography and a collection inventory.

Cato Sells Keith (1882-1951) was born in Iowa and grew up in Helena, Montana, where his father was newspaper editor. At eighteen he moved to Butte and worked as a reporter. By the 1910s he was in the east pursuing a career in vaudeville, and writing stage scripts either himself or jointly; his most frequent writing collaborators as documented in this collection were Frank L. Whittier and Bessie Warren. During the 1920s he toured various vaudeville circuits with Maude Parker, as “Keith and Parker.” When the demand for vaudeville declined, Keith tried unsuccessfully to find work in Hollywood. He and Parker withdrew to a reclusive life in Montana.

box folder

44 1 Biography, collection inventory, by Betty Bannister

44 2 Papers, miscellaneous

44 3 Clippings, 1914-1927

44 4 Binder and clipping ad of the Rialto (Butte, Montana)

44 5 Contracts, 1923-1928

44 6 Photographs

44 7 Handwritten scores

44 8 Scrapbook – “Lost, Strayed and Stolen Jokes”

44 9 Typed stage script page, “Why Did I Do It”; script fragment; “Gags” clippings

44 10 Stage script notebooks

44 11 Handwritten stage scripts, uncredited – “R. U. Married?” and unidentified

44 12 Stage scripts, uncredited – “Duam Nayro” (2 versions)

44 13 Handwritten stage script, “My Jim” by Ferdinand Grahame

45 1 Handwritten stage script – “Men Be Careful – A Study in Colors” by Cato S. Keith

45 2 Handwritten stage scripts – “What Next?” by Cato S. Keith and Bessie Warren; “A Pair of Schemers” by Cato S. Keith

45 3 Typed stage scripts, by Cato S. Keith and Bessie Warren – “On the Job”, “A Surprise Party” (2 copies)

45 4 Typed stage scripts, by Cato S. Keith and Neil E. Schaffner – “Isn’t It Killing”, “Leave It to Ouija”

45 5 Typed stage scripts – “The Greater Duty” by Chas. H. Smith and Cato S. Keith; “Just for Instance” by Cato S. Keith and Ben Barnett

45 6 Typed stage scripts – “Mr. Husband and Friend Wife” by Cato S. Keith, “Oh These Men” by Cato S. Keith and E.P. McNamee

45 7 Typed stage scripts, by Cato S. Keith and Frank L. Whittier – “A-Tell-Phone”, “It Could Happen [The Omen]”, “On the Job”, “Our Anniversary Dinner”

45 8 Typed stage scripts, by Cato S. Keith and Frank L. Whittier – “Men Be Careful” (2 versions); by Cato S. Keith only, “Men Be Careful” (2 copies)

45 9 Typed stage scripts, by Cato S. Keith and Frank L. Whittier – “Sherlock the Second [Case for Sherlock]” (2 copies)

45 10 Typed stage scripts, by Cato S. Keith and Frank L. Whittier – “Professor Tightwad”, “The Weapon”, “The White Cat”

45 11 Typed stage scripts – “Two of a Kind” by W.L. Lockwood, “Little Miss Santa Claus” by Malcolm Arthur, “The Mysterious Mr. Why” or “The Man from Central Office” by John Arthur Loining, “Spike and Lizzie” (uncredited, partial? script)

45 12 Typed stage scripts, unidentified

Name: Keith
Topics: Comedians