Thursday, December 12, 2013
"Some of the best lines in our act are being used by Moss and Frye"
It is great reading Variety's old Artists' Forum. This was a outlet for vaudeville performers to gripe about bad reviews and wish damnation upon those performers who had stolen parts of their act. These are the letters from one random 1919 installment that I happened to come across.
Chicago, April 21.
Please pardon calling to your attention an error on page 13 of your last issue of Variety, referring to the "Overseas Revue." The article quotes from Percy Hammond of the Chicago Tribune and reads, "The Overseas Revue is rough, ready, unpretentious and inelegant, and it starts something that it cannot finish," etc. I have Mr. Hammond's article before me as I preserved it on account of the beautiful way in which he expressed his regard for the artists who helped enliven the wounded heroes in Europe. It is quite lengthy and the paragraph referring to the attraction in question reads, "The Overseas Revue is rough, ready, unpretentious and inelegant, and it starts nothing that it cannot finish," etc. The error changes Mr. Hammond's pretty compliment into severe criticism.
Detroit, April 17.
In Variety April 11 was a letter from Coy and Washburn claiming we had appropriated the idea of their act. Coy and Washburn saw our act, "The Black Ace," yesterday, April 16. Being regulars, they came back and said they were sorry for the accusation.
From reliable sources, we learned that some of the best lines in our act are being used by Moss and Frye, also LeMarie and Hayes.
Peck and McIntyre.
New York, April 21.
Having been released just recently from the army, I find that McCree and Ledman are doing the opening of my act in Atlantic City. I am speaking of the entrance in a baby carriage. I am the originator of this bit and seek protection.
The above act of which I am writing about is at present playing the Ackerman & Harris circuit.
Stevens & Howard.
New York, April 23.
I am writing to protest against the Gardiner Trio who are, at present, appearing in "Take It From Me." They are doing, in its entirety, a skating dance which is my creation and which I have been doing for the past fifteen years. I did it the first time in this country at the Colonial, New York City, in 1915. Then with Gaby Deslys in "Stop, Look and Listen," also at the Ziegfeld "Midnight Frolic," New York Hippodrome and at Rector's in the first Andre Sherry Revue, where the Gardiners worked simultaneously in the downstairs revue; we dancing in the Ballroom.
We next went to Chicago with the Andre Sherry Revue, the Gardiners also being in the same show, working with us eight weeks, which gave the Gardiner Trio a chance and ample time to copy my dance in its entirety, even to my mannerisms.
I protest against such piracy of my material. I can prove that, besides my dance, other parts of the Gardiner act have been lifted from others, even to the costumes they are using in a certain number.
I have written a letter of protest to the N. V. A. of which I am a member and I hope that they will help me to protect my material.
Sadly, all of the acts referenced in these letters have long been forgotten. Gailand Howard may have gotten big laughs in Atlantic City by rolling onto the stage in a baby carriage, but he did not play a memorable role in the history of theatre entertainment.