AVM

American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2011 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 55

Willie, West & McGinty

active: 1900 – 1955

When Marion Spitzer, chronicler of vaudeville’s golden era at the great Palace Theatre in Manhattan, asked ten distinguished critics and aficionados to assemble their dream bill for the Palace, the act most frequently mentioned (7 out of 10) was Willie, West & McGinty. Known variously as the “The Comedy Builders,” “House Wreckers,” “Comedy of Errors” and “A Billion Building Blunders,” they were a sure-fire act in the USA and the United Kingdom.

Personnel changed with the decades. It began as a gymnastic duo but soon took on a third member, and it remained a trio for most of its 50 plus years on the boards. The act was a carefully calibrated and timed ‘ballet’ of inept workers creating a shambles instead of the building they were supposed to construct. Fortunately, they committed their act to film several times.