Variety (June 1919)

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■ . . . ; / VAUI>EViL.LE WHO'S WHO—AND WHY m VAUDEVILLE (To be continued as a series, with one Who's Who article weekly. Name of writer pplied Son request—this one by Johnny O'Connor (Wynn). ■ &•",• •■ v mi: i s m Tommy Gray. A "Turkey" pants presser who com- ibined a Ninth avenue education, a Tenth avenue line of chatter and a Sixth avenue make-up, dragged the outfit over to Broadway and peddled 1 it for cash." Tommy breezed into the world the year of the big blizzard and promptly fell under the management of his sister Mary and his brother ~ Dan. Incidentally, he's still under their management, but likes to assume an air of independence. When he wore short pants his mother used to coo poetry to him. He didn't look strong enough to carry the makings of a good truck driver or a brick layer, so Mrs. Gray, imagining she had discovered some slight trace of poetic tempera- ment about Thomas's dome, filled his cranium with "The Battle of the Boyne Waters," "The Life of Daniel O'Con- nell" in rhyme and other Irish mas- terpieces. This eventually ruined all his chances of ever becoming a nice, clean motorman. Around Ninth ave- nue the betting was against him ever ■ amounting to anything, but Tommy , ruined the book the day he began peddling papers. From the newsboy route to a stand on Broadway was but a short hop, and one day Tommy was made the uni- formed doorboy of Thorley's flower shop, adjoining the stage door of Weber and Field's Theatre. His first touch of show business came with the sight of the laundryman carrying the actors' linen in and out of the stage door. He had a pretty soft side racket with Thorley too, for he'd sell the actors the flowers for the footlight effect and then buy them back at a discount. From here he went to the cloak and suit game, buying trimmings. Since then he's been trimming buyers. He read a few magazine advertise- ments about the fortunes one could make writing songs, so he composed "Billy the Kid." When \ he read it fo his mother she slammed him over the kisser with a skillet. Finally one day he went to work for Fred Fisher at $20 a week. At the end of the week Fisher advised him to go into vaude- ville and charged him $20 for the ad- vice. • Tommy tried a monologue at Ruther- ford, N. J. (A fact hitherto unpub- lished.) The stage hands helped him out of the house by a rope ladder sus- ■ pended from the roof, for there was only one exit The mob missed him at ' the depot and he arrived home un- harmed His next reach for fame was through an agency with Phil York. York generally opened the mail first, but that didn't mean anything for the' landlord needed the office room for something else anyhow. Then came his single act with the educated clam. He tried Danbury and Waterbury, but got the raspberry at both and it looked like the grocery business for our Tommy when he shelved.the act after playing the Al- hambra. But his old pal Ned Way- burn stepped up and "Town Topics" at the Century gave Tommy a new lease on Broadway possibilities after a Sagi- " naw lumber man had dropped a bank- roll with his "She's In Again" show. Meanwhile he wrote three school acts for Gus Edwards. Tommy likes to write for kids. They can't squawk at his stuff and besides thereVno phys- ical come-back for them. Sunday school entertainments is 1 his long suit. Every Catholic priest in New York had him on their prayer list for he's a great kid for church benefits. j f When the war broke out Dan went in the army. Tommy was passed up because of slanting eyebrows or some other comedy malady, but he connected with the "Y" outfit, and although a Knight of Columbus he went over to see the argument at the expense of the Protestants. He framed up an act of four or five of his former flops and waited for sailing orders. He looked like a bellhop in the pancake hat, but he stood the laughs bravely. When he landed ip France a couple of bombing planes were dropping eggs on the town and a submarine had kissed one of the convoyed ships, "Good-Bye," but Tommy didn't see anything exciting about that. He had been attending the Thursday night affairs at the N. V. A. Tommy went big around the trenches. His stuff must have been pretty good, for none of the men took a shot at him. Between lectures he wrote a piece called "Joy Bells," which is sadly flopping in London at the average of $30,000 weekly. And they closed one. of his acts at a nickel slab a few days before he rowed out of New York. When, the armistice was signed, the day the Kaiser and God dissolved part- nership, Tommy got a yen for home. He was sick of the cognac, beer and the dames in France. On his return they framed up a beefsteak dinner for him. The gang decided to show their hero their appreciation of his war stories with a flock of hot meat and a keg of two per cent. beer. Louis Mann was the headliner. A few minutes after he started, totally unprepared, some one in the back yelled "Louder and funnier." Louis tossed that one off. He was there to testify to the fact that everyone loved Tommy. That was unnecessary, for no one is giving up four iron men in these days of excessive taxation to chew, chuck with a sap. Finally Louis blew up, admittedly victimized. He couldn't pull the Ritz stuff to a gang of lowbrows. Now Tommy is writing a show with Earl Carroll for Cohan and Harris. He has a secretary, wears an imported straw' hat and has forgotten the way to Schulem's. He has no bad habits. He likes baseball. He learned the roy- alty system of figuring from Frank Tinney. He's an ardent Friar, is con- spicuous on all benefit programs, still retains his Tenth avenue following, has dropped the Sixth avenue make-up for a Shantz, converses in wise cracks, never stays out late at nights and his favorite playmate is Felix Adler. A goof in his heart, but a regular all the way through. BURLESQUE CLUB MEETS JUNE 10. The annual meeting of the Burlesque Club will be held June 10, when the present nominations for officers and Board of Governors will be voted upon. The following candidates are up: Henry C. Jacobs, James E. Cooper, Will Roehm and Dan Dody for President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treas- urer, respectively. Among the Board of Governors to be decided upon for a term of two years are Joe Emerson, Chas. Falk, Dan Gug- genheim, James J. Williams and Sam Lewis. If You Don't Advertise in VARIETY Don't Advertise TOMMYS TATTLES. By Thoma» J. Gray. Two Army Divisions about to em- bark for home were stopped at the boats. To have been present when the boys found this out must have been a great lesson to anyone inter- ested in languages. Actors are insisting on the same contracts for all. As long as they don't all insist on the same kind of parts, the authors are safe. Minister is kicking about the new styles in ladies' clothes. ■ He wants to know when the Hooverizing is going to stop. Dressmakers say they will fight to the last thread. Origin of the Shimmie Dance is as mysterious as the* inventor of the Spanish influenza. But what we want to know is, what becomes, of old uke- leles?' Shows given by soldiers far _ out- number the shows given by sailors, which is a great argument against a larger navy. Our Pictureleas Educational Film*: Making corkscrews. The steel as it comes from the mill, Before it is twisted. Foreman and his gang. Twenty-five thousand tons of ma- chinery. Twisting the steel. Making them shine. Machine puts on handles. The finished product. Waiting to be shipped. Bottles that soon will never see a corkscrew. • ■ Great White Way is now full of signs reading "Give a thought to Broadway," which will probably make nine or ten thousand song writers put their thoughts in song. - Chorus girls who rushed out to have their hair bobbed a few years ago are now looking for hair tonic to make it grow off again. HUNS AND HOKUM. . ' „ ' Chapter lj£. (We give no synopsis of preceding chapters. They make no difference.) It was the voice of the Chairman of the Local Board calling Percy Ho- kum, the refined tramp acrobat, for examination. Claiming exemption on the grounds that two resin boards' .de- pended on him did no good. He got a class A-l card and was told to close out his stock of crepe hair and get ready to rehearse with a gun. The fa- tal notice was delivered to Percy just before he went on for his ninth and last show at the Pleasant Time Vaude- ville and Motion Picture House, one .of the biggest houses on the Petit Cir- cuit's Chain of what some one told them were theatres. The notice took all the pep out of Percy and took his mind off his work, so much so that he forgot to signal the trap drummer for a long roll on his feature trick, an j} in consequence did not get a hand from any of the patrons in the theatre, who always slept through Percy's act, and only awakened when they heard the drummer get busy. The manager was going to fine Percy for this neglect, but when Percy showed him his draft card he relented. Our hero gave a full set of his photos to the Nevergo Sisters, "Vaudeville's most non-suc- • cessful sister act," bought some post- 1 age stamps from the cashier to send his agent for commission, it being dan- gerous to send small coins through the mail, and went out into the night. To-morrow he would be Private Percy Hokum. (To be continued.) Doughnuts will make them sign the Peace Terms.'' STONE and KALIZ Playing week of May SI to Baltimore; following- wook at Brighton Beach. Will pay SIS for ovorr laugh that emn appropriately be Interpolated tot* their preeent act. In conjunction with Harry Weber we are producing oar former t* hides: alio new playe. Art Lite feel- ing themielTos competent to replace vi in theao acta kindly communicate by mall care Hotel Claridge, Now York. NEW ACTS. Tommy Overholt and Jim Fr ancis (Jack Lewis). "'"V-V—-? Harry Young and Harold Dawn, com* edy and songs, by Al Gilbert. . J Estelle and Burt Gordon. Estelle is the wife of Harry Gordon, who is rest- ing after a. serious illness. Sailor Johnny Burns, single. Was selected to entertain the president overseas. Former professional (W. L Lykens). Nelson Waring and Margaret Ains- lee (piano and singing). Griffiths and Warden (two men). Marie Sabbott and George Brooks, two-act Walker and West, two-act (Epstin & Sof ran- ski.) "Birds and Butterflies" will be pro- duced by Hugo Jansen. It is an elab- orate girl act with 18 Macaws import- ed from Brazil. The girls wear feath- ered costumes matching the plumage of the birds. Six classical dancers and eight other people will be cast IN AND OUT. Chilson Ohrman, out of Shea's, Tor- orto, this week (May 26), illness. Doree's Celebrities substituted.' k^ Morton and Glass out of Proctor's, Newark, first half current week. , Mo- ran and Wiser filled in. . \ o ; i Sinclair and Gasper replaced Mehl- inger and Mayer at the Royal, Mw». ! ' York, this week. Seven Glasgow Maids out of the State-Lake, Chicago, this week (May 26). Albertina Rasch and Co. filled* the vacancy.. A slight attack of ptomaine poison- ing caused Janet Moore to withdraw from the Fifth Avenue, latter half last week. Ted Doner filled the vacancy. Berlo Girls, out of Prospect, Brook- lyn, N. Y., first half, on account of water tank leaking. Wilbur Sweatman Co. filled the vacancy. -•-■■ . X.i' Laurie and Bronson retired from the State-Lake, Chicago*, bill early this week, Laurie losing his voice. He left immediately for New York to undergo an operation. Brennan and Rule withdrew sudden- ly from the Lyceum, Canton, Ohio, this week. According to the report, Burt inadvertently took sugar of lead in- stead of bicarbonate of soda, as pre- scribed. His condition is not serious. I m ■ ■ '■ '."l-JZi Vu; 1 '* •" V.' urn r -".--' SYRACUSE BURLESQUE CHANGE. , Syracuse, N. Y., May & Plans for the transfer of Columbia: Wheel burlesque shows from the Bast' able Theatre to the Crescent in this city are expected to be closed this week and it is highly probable the Bastable, which has been splitting the week with the Lumberg, Utica, N. Y, has staged its last burlesque show. Provided there is no hitch in the deal, the Crescent will be remodelled and enlarged, the entrance widened and the opening set for Labor Day, the i same date not tentatively set for the' opening of the new Keith house, di- rectly across the street Those named in the pending deal are Wm. Cahill, owner of the Crescent. and Max Spiegel, of New Yotk. The house has heretofore been playing small time vaudeville. "