Next in our series on theatrical cartoons, we feature a small sampling of pages extracted from a souvenir booklet (given away? sold?) in 1911, in the B.F. Keith’s Philadelphia theatre. Benjamin Franklin Keith owned a chain of theatres in the northeast U.S., in which he featured a travelling circuit of vaudeville acts. Artist Charles Bell of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, provided cartoon drawings of the acts, published both in Keith’s theatre programs, and in the Inquirer. In 1911, these cartoons were gathered into the booklet, Cartoons of Featured Acts which appeared at B.F. Keith’s Theatre, Philadelphia, Season 1910-11.
Click on the above & below pictures, to open larger versions.
The hilight for comics fans, is a depiction of Bud Fisher (below page, top right), who would stand on stage and draw and talk about his comic strip characters, Mutt & Jeff. Known as “chalk talks”, such “acts” from cartoonists — famous and not — were quite popular at this time.
Also found in the below page are: Roberty’s Dancers from the Folies Bergere (or claimed to be), Maurice Freeman, Sumiko Japanese Prima Donna (soprano of the Imperial Opera House, Tokio), Paul Dickey, song-writer/actor Gus Edwards, and Tim Cronin, who a decade earlier was a leader within the White Rats — a Vaudeville actors union fighting a syndicate of theater owners.
On the below page, we have: Walter & Georgie Lawrence, (Frank) Milton & the Delong Sisters, Linden Beckwith, Ernest Pantzes Company, the Mabelle Fonda Troupe, Wilfred Clark, and lastly, Conroy & Lemaire, a racist blackface comedy duo typical of the period.
In the next excerpt, humorist Will Rogers is the most famous performer (today) found in B.F. Keith’s booklet. Also found on this page are Mary Norman, Jos. Harts, ventriloquist Tom Edwards, Arthur Whitelaw, Irene Franklin, and the team of Alexander & Scott.
The stand-out in our final sample page, is comedienne Lillian Shaw, controversial for her then-perceived “brazen sexuality”. Other acts on this page are: (Professor) Herbert’s Dogs, Edward Abeles (star of the first filmed version of Brewster’s Millions, 1914, by Cecil B. DeMille), the Armanis, the Eight Geisha Girls, Eva Tanguay, Anna Chance, and her husband, Charley Grapewin (Uncle Charley in the 1939 version of The Wizard of OZ).
TheatricalCartoons AsWeSeeEm AdvertisingStrips