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American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 63

Ernest Hogan

1860 — 1909

 

Ernest Hogan, a comedian, singer, eccentric dancer and songwriter, was the first African American to star on Broadway.

He began, as many black vaudevillians did, as a ‘pickaninny” (a corruption of the Portuguese word for small children, ‘pequeniños’) in Pringle’s Georgia Minstrels, an all-black company. Later, he joined Black Patti’s Troubadours and, as a single, played black vaudeville, revue and musical comedy, as well, often entering into management. His troupes toured as far as Hawaii and Australia and across the breadth of America.

His first great success was as the star of Clorindy, or the Origins of the Cakewalk, the landmark musical comedy that played the Casino’s Roof Theatre in 1898. Its success led to other popular and profitable shows during the ensuing decade

Hogan’s success helped pave the way into mainstream show business for contemporaries such as Sam Lucas, Bob Cole, Bert Williams & George Walker and those who followed, like Flournoy Miller & Lyles, Florence Mills, Ethel Waters and Bill Robinson. Ernest Hogan died of tuberculosis, his career cut short at the height of his popularity.

American Vaudeville Museum