All stories by Trav S.D. on BroadwayStars

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Robert Blake Saga: From Little Rascal to Big, Terrifying Rascal by Trav S.D.

Robert Blake (Michael James Gubitosi) came into the world in Nutley, New Jersey on January 18, 1933.  When he was three years old, his parents (who had their own song and dance act) put Mic…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 12:06PM
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Zacchini Family: Human Cannonballs by Trav S.D.

As we have previously written, the first human cannonball was Zazel (Rosa Richter), who was launched out of spring operated “cannons” devised by The Great Farini starting in 1877…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 10:54AM
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Harold “Slim” Switzer: How Alfalfa’s Brother Ended it All in a Murder-Suicide by Trav S.D.

Harold Switzer (1925-1967) had an awkward role in life. He was two years older than his brother Carl. Both were hired at the same time in 1935 by Hal Roach to be in Our Gang. Harold was nick…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 05:18AM

Vivien Fay: A Vanishing Ballerina by Trav S.D.

Here’s one we know chiefly by her credits, which bring her plenty close to many of the folks we have written about. As for the woman behind the credits, we know next to nothing. Her bi…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 04:12AM
Sunday, January 14, 2018

William Bendix: An Authentic Lug by Trav S.D.

Quintessential blue-collar actor William Bendix (1906-1964) was often cast as a guy from Brooklyn or the Bronx, although he was a native of the Manhattan neighborhood of Murray Hill. He drop…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 11:04AM
Saturday, January 13, 2018

Herbert Brenon: Early Hollywood Auteur by Trav S.D.

Herbert Brenon (1880-1958) was one of the most important Hollywood film directors of the silent era. Born in Dublin, he moved to London with his family when he was two years old (his father …

Linked From Trav S.D. at 12:06PM

Charles Nelson Reilly IS “Uncle Croc” by Trav S.D.

This is the best thing that has happened to me in months, years, possibly (and apologies to whomever that offends!) and I hope the knowledge brings you as much sheer joy and amusement as it …

Linked From Trav S.D. at 09:54AM
Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tirza’s Wine Bath: How a Coney Island Burlesque Enigma Came to Light by Trav S.D.

So much more is known about Leona Duval and her Coney Island burlesque act “Tirza’s Wine Bath” since her lawyers sent that “cease and desist letter” to Coney Is…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 11:12AM
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Muzzle That Movie! (11 Cases Where the Silent Version is Better Than the Talkie) by Trav S.D.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not one of those radical people who claim that silent cinema is intrinsically superior to films containing dialogue and recorded sound effects. Is there a…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 02:33PM
Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Beatification of Bob Denver by Trav S.D.

Comic actor Bob Denver (1935-2005) was born on this historic day. Something downright sinister happened to Denver towards the end of his life, happened in public, happened for all to see, an…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 01:12PM
Monday, January 8, 2018

A Post on “The Post” by Trav S.D.

Just a little post about The Post. I think it ranks with Spielberg’s 6 or 8 tent pole films, the ones we remember him for, and for many of the same reasons his best ones are great. Spi…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 11:54AM

95 Years of Larry Storch; Only 2 of Agarn by Trav S.D.

Today marks the 95th birthday of comic actor and performer Larry Storch (b. 1923). We have purposefully not led off with his most famous character, whose popularity marked the height of Stor…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 09:42AM
Friday, January 5, 2018

Kathryn Perry: Minor Doesn’t Mean Bad by Trav S.D.

There is little to tell about actress and performer Kathryn Perry (1897-1983) aside from her credits, but she is notable in being one of the few whose life embraced both of those great Jazz …

Linked From Trav S.D. at 09:36AM

Rosita Royce: She Worked with Birds by Trav S.D.

It’s National Bird Day again! We thought we’d add to the post we’ve already done on bird acts with a special tribute to burlesque star Rosita Royce (Marjorie Rose Corringt…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 09:36AM
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Richard Stahl: Hiding in Plain Sight by Trav S.D.

No doubt in my mind that Richard Stahl (1932-2006) has many fans, despite the fact that most of them probably don’t know his name. His bald dome and dry, midwestern drawl enlivened man…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 03:06PM

A Sterling Career: 60+ Years of Sterling Holloway by Trav S.D.

Sterling Holloway (1905-1992) was born on this day.  I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I first knew this amazing  performer as a voice — the highly distinctive voice of W…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 11:48AM
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Sammy Burns: Vaudeville Dancer and Silent Screen Comedian by Trav S.D.

This one is a work-in-progress, and yet I suspect it is a fuller portrait than is elsewhere available of stage and screen performer/ producer/ teacher Sammy Burns. Notably, I lack the deta…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 08:54AM
Monday, January 1, 2018

Lou Jacobs: Clown of Renown by Trav S.D.

New Years Day was the birthday of one of the 20th century’s greatest circus clowns, Lou Jacobs (Johann Ludwig Jacob, 1903-1992). Jacobs’ influence on the form is incalculable; he…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 03:36PM

Fred Hallen: Partner of Many Partners by Trav S.D.

Frederic “Fred” Hallen (1859-1920) was a popular vaudeville entertainer, who always worked as one half of a team. He had rather a succession of them. In Forty Years Observation o…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 02:33PM

Xavier Cugat: (Not) Just a Gigolo by Trav S.D.

Xavier Cugat (Francisco de Asis Javier Cugat) was one of the first people born in the 20th century — January 1, 1900 (making it very easy to calculate what was going in his life in rel…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 01:36PM

The 50 Year Career of Our Gang’s Matthew “Stymie” Beard by Trav S.D.

Matthew “Stymie” Beard of Our Gang/ Little Rascals fame was born on the first day of 1925. Born in Los Angeles into a religious family (his father was a preacher) Beard was alrea…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 12:33PM
Sunday, December 31, 2017

Georgette Harvey: Porgy’s First Maria by Trav S.D.

A fascinating figure was born on this day. Georgette Harvey (1882-1952) was principally a stage performer, although I first became aware of her from the 1934 voodoo movie Chloe, Love is Call…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 10:12AM
Saturday, December 30, 2017

The All Time Travalanche Top Ten by Trav S.D.

Year’s end is a perfect time for stock taking, and as I often like to do, I made a little tally of the readers’ top ten favorite subjects on Travalanche. I pulled out some anomal…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 09:04AM

The Worst Disaster in Theatre History by Trav S.D.

On December 30, 1903 there occurred the worst disaster in theatre history, and the largest single building fire in American history, Chicago’s Iroquois Theatre Fire. The Iroquois had o…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 07:48AM

Mary Alice Rice: A Soprano in Society by Trav S.D.

Mary Alice Rice (1910-1989) came into the world on December 30. Originally from Temple, Texas, Rice was a trained soprano, and once called “one of the ten most beautiful women on the A…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 06:42AM
Friday, December 29, 2017

2017: The Travisian Year in Review by Trav S.D.

Well, Good Riddance to 2017! If you’re all like me, you got the wind knocked out of you on November 8, 2016, sending you spinning in unanticipated directions, like in the iconic Coney …

Linked From Trav S.D. at 01:18PM

Claire Dodd: Arch Starlet of the Thirties by Trav S.D.

Born December 29, Claire Dodd (Dorothy Dodd, 1908-1973). Born in Iowa, raised in Arkansas, it was often given out that she’d gotten her start in the Ziegfeld Follies, although there is…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 11:06AM
Thursday, December 28, 2017

Charles “Slim” Timblin and His Multi-Leveled “Revival” by Trav S.D.

Charles “Slim” Timblin was known for a single signature bit in vaudeville, a comedy monologue he did in blackface** as an African American preacher. He does the bit in the 1930 V…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 09:48AM
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Relative of Mine was in Cole Porter’s First Broadway Show (and Much, Much More) by Trav S.D.

I made an exciting discovery the other day; I stumbled upon a Jazz Age Broadway Chorus Girl to whom I am distantly related. Her name was Helen Herendeen. I have tantalizing fragments, and am…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 06:36PM

Before Darla, Our Gang Had Mary Kornman by Trav S.D.

Ingenue Mary Kornman (1915-1973) was born December 27. Like many of the earliest kids hired for Hal Roach’s Our Gang series of comedy film shorts, Mary was initially hired because she …

Linked From Trav S.D. at 08:48AM
Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Russell Patterson: Helped Invent the “Flapper” by Trav S.D.

Art Deco era visual artist Russell Patterson was born the day after Christmas, 1893. Patterson had a hand in practically every kind of influential visual expression in popular culture from t…

Linked From Trav S.D. at 10:12AM

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