Advertisement

January 24: The Smart Stooge

Larry Fine (Louis Feinberg), the “smart one” of the Three Stooges, died at 73 on this date in 1975. Fine was a son of Philadelphia (there’s a mural of him on a wall at the juncture of 3rd and South Streets) whose parents ran a jewelry and watch repair shop. He was a violinist and […]

Read More

May 26: Al Jolson

Al Jolson (Asa Yoelson), American’s most famous entertainer in the 1930s and the star of the first full-length talking movie, The Jazz Singer (1927), was born in Lithuania on this date in 1886 (he actually did not know his date of birth but selected May 26th). He came to the U.S. in 1894 and lost […]

Read More

March 21: Broncho Billy

The first Hollywood cowboy, Gilbert Anderson (Maxwell Henry Aronson), who starred as “Broncho Billy” in 148 silent Western shorts beginning in 1907, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on this date in 1880. Anderson’s parents hailed from New York, where he moved at the age of 18 to attempt a career in vaudeville. In 1903, […]

Read More

April 23: The First Movies

The first movies shown in the U.S. to a paying audience were presented on this date in 1896 at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall on 34th Street in New York City (the current site of Macy’s). Shown on Thomas Edison’s new Vitascope, the shorts were described in the New York Times as showing “two precious […]

Read More

January 13: Last of the Red Hot Mamas

Sophie Tucker (Sonya Kalish), one of the most popular entertainers of early 20th-century America, was born in Tulchyn, Ukraine on this date in 1886. Her reputation in vaudeville was built as a “Coon shouter” in black-face, as male producers thought she’d be rejected as a “big mama” without it, but in 1909, when her trunks were […]

Read More

January 20: George Burns

George Burns (Nathan Birnbaum) was born in New York City on this day in 1896. He quit school in the fourth grade to be an entertainer. His vaudeville career was floundering until he met Gracie Allen in 1923 (they married in 1926) and started playing the cigar-smoking straight man to her silly, literal-minded woman — […]

Read More