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American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.† Page 18

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American Vaudeville: Its Life and Times by Douglas Gilbert (410 pp, 1940, Whittesly/McGraw-Hill, NYC, Standard Book #486-20999-7). This most reliable and artfully written history of vaudeville provides a comprehensive overview of vaudeville: its emergence and rise, its grandest days and its decline. Besides providing the bones of vaudeville history and the people who made it, Gilbert reasons the whys and wherefores. A must for your library.

Once upon a Stage: the Merry World of Vaudeville by Charles & Louise Samuels (267 pp, 1974, Dodd, Mead & Company, NYC, ISBN #0-396-07030-2) is an affectionate history of vaudevilleís bright stars, its beginnings and heyday by two journalists of the later period. A personal favorite that is well written and a joy to read.

Vaudeville U.S.A. by John Dimeglio (228 pp, 1973, Bowling Green University Popular Press, IN, ISBN #0-87972-053-0). This is the best of vaudeville books written by an academic and that is because he is descended from two generations of vaudevillians. His credentials and family background ensure that this book provides good history, engagingly written with an inside view.

Encyclopedia of Vaudeville by Anthony Slide (579 pp, 1994, Greenwood Press, Westport CT, ISBN #0-313-28027-4). The author has written three books on vaudeville. The previously written Selected Vaudeville Criticism and Dictionary of Vaudeville led to this later volume which provides more detail about 500 vaudevillians. Mr. Slide is knowledgeable about various forms of show business and this volume rests upon considerable research.

Vaudeville: from the Honky-Tonks to the Palace by Joe Laurie, Jr. (509 pp, 1953, Henry Hold, NYC, LOC#53-9590). Written as a memoir by a vaudevillian of prodigious memory, this memoir offers the names of more vaudevillians than any other book. It is intended as a chronological and kaleidoscopic view, so there arenít many details, but the flavor is there and the writing is breezy.

Show Biz: from Vaude to Video by Abel Green & Joe Laurie, Jr. (1951, Henry Holt, NYC). This best seller by a Variety mugg and a vaudevillian compressed a half century of show business and a thousand of its personages into 572 pages. Like Joe Laurie, Jr.ís later Vaudeville book, this is a lighthearted stroll down memory lane. It also demonstrates how vaudeville, silent film, radio and the talkies were linked to each other.

The Voice of the City: Vaudeville and Popular Culture in New York by Robert W. Snyder (214 pp, 1989, Oxford University Press, NYC, ISBN #0-19-502285-4). This smart little volume avoids the pitfalls of most books intended for academic circles: itís a pleasure to read and its premise grew from study and familiarity. By focusing upon New York City, Professor Snyder was able to explore vaudeville as entertainment, as a business and its role in the larger society.

American Vaudeville as Ritual by Albert F. McLean (242 pp, 1965, University of Kentucky Press, LOC #65-11830). This is another book dressed up with a scholarly title that transcends its stated intent through the good sense of the author and his familyís closeness to the business of vaudeville. It places, rather than forces, vaudeville within the larger changing American society.