Comedians

Eddie Cantor: Vaudeville's Most Versatile "Kid" by David Soren

Eddie Cantor (New York, January 11, 1892 - Beverly Hills, California October 10, 1964) was one of the most popular, enduring entertainers of the 20th century who was famous for vaudeville, Broadway, records, movies and television. He is the only entertainer to have been so successful in all of these media over such a substantial period of time. As a comedian he didn't really do stand-up, as a dancer he was more of a hoofer and as a singer he had an average voice but what he did have was personality to burn and a remarkable ability to distinguish good comedy writing.

Richard Carle: A Forgotten American Genius by David Soren

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.

Elsie Janis: Vaudeville's Heroine of World War I by David Soren

Elsie Janis (Born Delaware, Ohio 1-16-1889 – Died Beverly Hills, California 2-26-1956) was an American vaudevillian, Broadway superstar and World War I heroine who was once one of the most famous women in show business. While a little child she showed a gift for mimicry which was encouraged by her divorced mother Jennie, who was the ultimate stage mother.

Ed Wynn: The Perfect Fool by Robin Williams

       Ed Wynn had many names over the course of his life.  From his childhood nickname ‘Izzy’ to his lasting title the ‘Perfect Fool’, Ed Wynn lived 79 years through good times and hard times.  Ed Wynn was born Isaiah Edwin Leopold on November 9th, 1886 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA.   On June 19th, 1966 he died, of esophageal cancer, in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California.  Ed Wynn had three wives: Hilda Keenan, Frieda Mierse, and Dorothy Elizabeth Nesbitt.  He had only one child, a son Keenan Wynn, with

Irene Franklin: Pioneer of Female Stand-Up Comedy by David Soren

Of all the great forgotten stars of vaudeville, no one more regrettably forgotten comes to mind than the great Irene Franklin (born 13 June 1876 in New York City – 16 June 1941 in Englewood, New Jersey. Long before there were female comedy stand-up pioneers such as Jackie "Moms" Mabley or Joan Rivers there were other pioneers, including Jessie Mae Hall (The Doll Comedian), who did a routine with little dolls as if she were a little girl playing. There were also impressionists such as Nan Halperin and Elsie Janis, who also wrote music, organized shows and starred on Broadway.

Olsen and Johnson: Broadway's Zanies - UA Library Entry, with David Soren

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.

Ole Olsen (born John Sigvard Olsen, 1892-1963) and Chic Johnson (born Harold Ogden Johnson, 1891-1962) were originally musical entertainers from the Midwest (Indiana and Illinois) where they met and worked together as band mates.

Murray and Mack: Early Vaudeville Comedy Duo by David Soren

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.