[Vanishing Act – The Vaudeville Era in Chicago]

Rough cut of Will Clinger's documentary on Vaudeville in Chicago.

0:01Copy video clip URL Color bars. 

0:40Copy video clip URL Footage of old Vaudeville acts. Narrator describes the popularity of these performances across the country. He then talks about the way theaters changed after the Vaudeville era, footage of construction. 

1:40Copy video clip URL Schulien’s Restaurant. Will Clinger sits with four former Vaudeville performers who speak about some of their performances. More historical footage. Each man talks about how he started working in Vaudeville. 

4:22Copy video clip URL Clinger describes Sam Lessner’s historical involvement in Vaudeville, and then interviews him in his office at the Hyde Park Harold. Lessner describes what Vaudeville was, and what it was like being a performer. More footage. 

6:06Copy video clip URL The men at the restaurant continue to talk about their entry into Vaudeville. They talk about rules concerning children performing. They described the way that circuits worked. They describe different personas. 

8:55Copy video clip URL Clinger talks to Roland Lowe in the lobby of the Chicago Theater. Lowe, 89, was a Vaudeville performer beginning at age 13.  He talks about his start as a performer, and describes some of the acts and troupes he was in. 

12:00Copy video clip URL Back at the restaurant, the men talk about the business side of things, changes in their careers, theaters they played in, and living at the Croydon Hotel. More interview with Lowe. 

14:40Copy video clip URL Lowe and Clinger talk about black face in performances. Clinger talks to Maceo Anderson, a black tap dancer that was a part of one of the first Vaudeville acts that “broke the color barrier.” He talks about what performing was like, and about tap dancing. Footage of the Four Step Brothers performing. Clinger asks about choreography. They talk about the black Vaudeville circuit. 

18:45Copy video clip URL At the restaurant, the men give more anecdotes from their days as performers. They talk about the importance of Chicago as a part of a performance circuit. Clinger talks to Lowe about Ed Sullivan. 

20:50Copy video clip URL Clinger and Lessner talk about Danny Kaye, a bold performer, and the exhibitionist nature of many of the performers. The men at the restaurant show Clinger a trick with a scarf. Alternating footage from the different people that Clinger has been interviewing. 

23:13Copy video clip URL Clinger asks what killed Vaudeville. The men at the restaurant agree that it was killed by the invention of “talking pictures,” that were much cheaper to go see. Lessner disagrees that it was immediately killed, and describes the time period that Vaudeville and movies shared the spotlight. The men at the restaurant talk about why some performers could make the transition to movies and some could not. Clinger talks about some performers choices at the end of Vaudeville. 

27:00Copy video clip URL Lessner talks about the uniqueness of Vaudeville. They reflect on other performers. Anderson does a few tap moves. Lowe sings a song. Historical performance footage. 

29:11Copy video clip URL Tape ends.

 

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