1-16 of 16 results  for:

  • vaudeville performer x
  • Sex: Female x
Clear all

Article

Cline, Maggie (01 January 1857–11 June 1934), entertainer, was born Margaret Cline in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the daughter of Patrick B. Cline and Ann Degman. Educated in Haverhill’s public schools, Maggie worked in a show factory before running away from home with a traveling theatrical company at the age of fifteen....

Article

Hall, Adelaide (20 October 1901?–07 November 1993), vaudeville, musical theater, and jazz singer and actress, was born in New York City, the daughter of William Hall, a Pennsylvania German music teacher at the Pratt Institute, and Elizabeth Gerrard, an African American. She made many jokes about her birth year; on her birthday in 1991 she declared that she was ninety years old, hence the conjectural 1901....

Article

Hill, Chippie (15 March 1905–07 May 1950), dancer and singer, was born Bertha Hill in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of John Hill and Ida Jones. From the age of nine she sang in church. The family moved to New York City sometime around 1918, and the following year Hill danced at Leroy’s Club in Harlem in a show led by ...

Article

Martin, Sara (18 June 1884–24 May 1955), blues and vaudeville singer, was born Sara Dunn in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of William Dunn and Katie Pope. Nothing is known of her youth. Based in Chicago, she traveled in vaudeville from around 1915.

While performing in New York City clubs and cabarets, Martin was discovered by songwriter and publisher ...

Article

Mills, Florence (25 January 1895–01 November 1927), entertainer, was born Florence Winfree in Washington, D.C., the daughter of John Winfree, a carpenter, and Nellie Simons, who did laundry. Educated locally, by age five Mills was winning contests in cakewalking and buck dancing. Her first professional engagement came as Baby Florence Mills in the second company (1902) of the Williams-Walker ...

Article

Rainey, Ma (26 April 1886–22 December 1939), vaudeville, blues, and jazz singer and self-proclaimed "Mother of the Blues", vaudeville, blues, and jazz singer and self-proclaimed “Mother of the Blues,” was born Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett in Columbus, Georgia, the daughter of Thomas Pridgett and Ella Allen, an employee of the Georgia Central Railroad. Gertrude began her musical career at age fourteen in a local talent show and soon was singing at the Springer Opera House in Columbus. Early in her career, she met William “Pa” Rainey, whom she married in 1904. They toured the South, performing in tent shows, honky-tonks, carnivals, and vaudeville houses with F. S. Wolcott’s Rabbit Foot Minstrels and later with their own troupe. “Ma” Rainey earned a reputation as a flamboyant performer who wore gaudy costumes and had a “wild” stage persona that manifested itself in her seductive movements to her blues music. At the time the Raineys and many other black entertainers were booked into their engagements by the Theatre Owners Booking Association (TOBA). The wages paid to black entertainers were so low and the working conditions so exploitative that TOBA came to stand for “Tough on Black Artists,” or, more colloquially, “Tough on Black Asses.”...

Image

Lillian Russell Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-91178).

Article

Russell, Lillian (04 December 1861–06 June 1922), entertainer, actress, and singer, was born Helen Louise Leonard in Clinton, Iowa, to a well-to-do family. Her father, Charles E. Leonard, was the publisher of the local newspaper, the Clinton Herald, and her mother, Cynthia Howland Van Name, was an early and ardent feminist. Her family moved to Chicago in 1865, and she attended local schools, completing her formal education at the Park Institute, a finishing school. However, as she later recalled, her most significant education occurred at home: “Our family was a musical one. We sang and danced and played, and all my sisters had exceptionally fine voices, which were carefully trained.” Her parents subsequently divorced after separating in 1877, and, with her mother and sisters, she moved to New York City. Within a short time, she secured a chorus part in Edward E. Rice’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ...

Article

Smith, Clara (1894–02 February 1935), blues and vaudeville singer, was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Nothing is known of her parents and childhood. In about 1910 she began touring the South in vaudeville. Probably in 1920 she joined the new Theater Owners’ Booking Association circuit, in which context guitarist ...

Article

Smith, Mamie (26 May 1883–30 October 1946?), blues and vaudeville singer and film actress, was born Mamie Robinson in Cincinnati, Ohio. Nothing is known of her parents. At the age of ten she toured with a white act, the Four Dancing Mitchells. She danced in J. Homer Tutt and Salem Tutt-Whitney’s The Smart Set Company in 1912 and then left the tour the next year to sing in Harlem clubs and theaters. Around this time she married William “Smitty” Smith, a singing waiter who died in 1928. At the Lincoln Theater in 1918 she starred in ...

Article

Smith, Trixie (1895–21 September 1943), blues and vaudeville singer, was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Nothing is known of her parents and childhood. Having studied at Selma University in Alabama, she came to New York City around 1915 to perform in clubs and theaters. She was at the New Standard Theater in Philadelphia in 1916, and she toured on the Theater Owners’ Booking Association circuit, probably in 1920 and 1921....

Image

Eva Tanguay Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111866).

Article

Tanguay, Eva (01 August 1878–11 January 1947), entertainer, was born in Marbleton, Quebec, Canada, the daughter of Octave Tanguay, a physician, and Adele Pajeau. Around 1884 the Tanguays moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, where Eva attended public school and her father’s health broke under the strain of a huge work load and financial pressure. After his death in 1886, Eva won first prize at an amateur contest at Parsons’ Hall in Holyoke; she made her professional acting debut in ...

Article

Taylor, Eva (22 January 1895–31 October 1977), vaudeville singer, was born Irene Gibbons in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Frank Gibbons and Julia Evans. Her father died when she was fifteen months old, and her mother had difficulty providing for her, so from her toddler years she was a dancer and singer with Josephine Gassman and her Pickaninnies, a vaudeville act headed by a former opera singer. In this capacity Gibbons toured America annually and also visited Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand from around 1904 to 1906, Europe in 1906, and Australia again from 1914 to 1915....

Article

Tucker, Sophie (13 January 1884–09 February 1966), entertainer, was born Sophia Abuza somewhere in Russia, the daughter of Jennie “Dolly” Yacha and Charles Abuza (born Kalish), a deserting soldier en route to the United States who took on a dead companion’s identity and became a restaurateur. After eight years in Boston, the Abuzas moved their restaurant to Hartford, Connecticut, where Sophie sometimes sang to its show-business clientele from the kitchen door. In her autobiography ...

Article

Walker, Edyth (27 March 1867–19 February 1950), opera singer and teacher, was born in Hopewell (Ontario County), New York, the daughter of Marquis de Lafayette Walker, a carpenter and landscape gardener, and Mary Purdy. Christened Minnie Edith, she changed her name to Mary Edyth and eventually dropped the Mary. When Edyth was an infant, the family moved to Geneva, New York. When she was about twelve, they relocated to Rome, New York, where she attended school and was graduated from the Rome Free Academy in 1884. Her natural talent enabled her to perform as a contralto soloist in nearby churches, without formal vocal training, from the age of fourteen....