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Beck, Martin (31 August 1865–16 November 1940), vaudeville manager, was born in German Czechoslovakia. Little is known of his early years. At about the age of eighteen he immigrated to the United States as part of a troupe of European actors. Beck’s first theatrical experience was as a German actor, appearing at the Thalia Theater in New York and later with the Waldamer Stock Company in St. Louis. The group was not successful in America and soon broke up. Having no means of livelihood, Beck turned to any form of endeavor that would enable him to survive. After working at a number of menial jobs he turned up in Chicago as a waiter in a music hall where he also served as part-time bartender, earning the nickname “Two Beers Beck.” The year was 1893, and the World’s Fair was in full swing. Beck’s previous theatrical experience came in handy, and he soon found work as a part-time stage manager. Other jobs followed, and he quickly rose to the position of house manager and then bookkeeper....

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Christy, Edwin Pearce (01 November 1814–21 May 1862), blackface minstrel and manager, was born in New York City, the son of Robert Christy and Ruth Wheaton. Nothing is known about his education. It is reported that he was once an office boy to a New York lawyer, a hotel clerk, and a traveling shoe salesman. In the early 1830s he became a comic blackface singer with the Purdy and Welch Circus in New Orleans, claiming to have been inspired by the singing and dancing of slaves in that city’s Congo Square....

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Haverly, Jack H. (30 June 1837–28 September 1901), minstrel showman, was born Christopher Heverly in Boiling Springs (later known as Axemann), Pennsylvania, the son of Christopher Heverly, whose occupation is unknown, and Eliza Steel. After schooling in Axemann, Heverly moved to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, in 1854 as a tailor’s apprentice. A dispute with the tailor led to a thirty-day jail sentence for Heverly, who soon left for Ohio. Many of the details of his next few years are obscure, though he apparently performed a number of jobs, including “baggage smasher” on the railroads. By 1864 he was well settled in Toledo and opened his first variety theater. A printer’s misspelling of his name on a batch of huge colored posters—one of many trademarks of his later work—was more cheaply left uncorrected and Heverly became Haverly. He had married Sara Hechsinger, one-half of the singing Duval Sisters, probably by 1864. She died in 1867 in Toledo, and he married her sister Eliza Hechsinger that same year. He had no children....