AVM

American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.† Page 19

American Vaudeville Museum | 

A Pictorial History of Vaudeville by Bernard Sobel (224 pp, 1961, Bonanza/Crow/Citadel, NYC, LOC #61-18015). Over half of the pages are given over to photographs of many of the big-time acts which affords even a casual reader some sense of the time and the performers and their acts. The photos are accompanied by a brief history of vodvil from minstrel days to the beginnings of television.

The Palace by Marion Spitzer (259 p-p, 1969, Atheneum Press, NYC, LOC #68-27670). By focusing upon one theatre, the pinnacle of big-time, two-a-day vaudeville, Ms. Spitzer eschewed the wide angle lens to create a sense of the day-to-day business of operating vaudevilleís most renowned theatre and enlivened it with anecdotes about the various personalities who played the Palace.

Broadway Below the Sidewalk: Concert Saloons of Old New York, edited by William L. Slout (110 pp, 1994, Borgo Press, San Bernadino, CA, ISBN #0-8095-0301-8). This fourth entry in the Clipper Studies in the Theatre series is drawn from reports published in the Nineteenth Century by the New York Clipper. A must for anyone who wishes to explore the rude beginnings of variety in old Manhattan.

The Vaudevillians by Bill Smith (269 pp, 1976, Macmillan, NYC, ISBN #0-02-611890-4). Thirty well-known and not so well-known vaude vets get a chance to tell their stories in interviews with the author. Their memories are not always unbiased or completely accurate, but the firsthand viewpoint is invaluable.

We Can Still Hear Them Clapping by Marcia Keegan (158 pp, 1975, Avon/Hearst, NYC, ISBN #0-380-00402-X). What started out as a photographic essay by the city government of New York turned into a poignant last hurrah for some of the aging veterans of vaudeville.

American Vaudeville as Seen by its Contemporaries, compiled and annotated by Charles W. Stein (378 pp, 1984, Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf, NYC, ISBN #0-394-53743-2) offers reprints of articles by and about vaudevilleís practitioners and observers as culled from various periodicals of the day.

 

BLACK VAUDEVILLE in General

 

On the Real Side: Laughing, Lying and Signifying: the Underground Tradition of African American Humor that Transformed American Culture from Slavery to Richard Pryor by Mel Watkins (620 pp, 1994, Simon & Schuster, NYC, ISBN #0-671-68982-7). Donít let the Long-winded title put you off. This is a great book about Negro comedy and its practitioners, and it is a pleasure to read. Acute observations smartly expressed keep you glued to the unfolding story. A lot of it goes back to vaudeville, both black and mainstream.

Spreadiní Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters, 1880-1930 by David A. Jasen & Gene Jones (417 pp, 1998, Simon & Schuster/Macmillan, NYC, ISBN #0-02-8664742-4). While the authors focus on the songwriters who created the black musicals for Chicago, Harlem and Broadway, their story provides lots of information about the comedians, singing and dancers stars of Negro vaudeville and show biz, as well as those who shined on Broadway. Good research matched with good writing.