Thursday, January 7, 2016

Meet Baby Snooks

One cannot discuss comedians acting like children without acknowledging Fanny Brice's popular portrayal of Baby Snooks.  Brice played the impish little girl for nearly 30 years, gathering an increasing number of fans as she showcased the character in vaudeville, Broadway revues, radio, films, and a single memorable television appearance. 

Snooks is best known for her featured role in a long-running radio sitcom.  John Dunning, the author of On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, called Snooks "the most notorious brat of the air."  Snooks had a knack for flustering her father, played to comic perfection by Hanley Stafford.  Dunning wrote, "Stafford rivaled Gale Gordon and Hans Conreid among the best stackblowers in radio, erupting at least once per show as he became the focus of all Snooks' mischief."

Brice said, "Snooks is just the kid I used to be.  She’s my kind of youngster, the type I like.  She has imagination.  She’s eager.  She’s alive.  With all her deviltry, she still is a good kid, never vicious or mean . . .  I love Snooks, and when I play her I do it as seriously as if she were real.  I am Snooks.  For twenty minutes or so, Fanny Brice ceases to exist."

Jeff Kallman, who regularly writes about radio history on his "Kallman's Alley" blog, was impressed by Baby Snooks' skill at "making Red Skelton’s mean widdle kid Junior seem like a Boy Scout."  Kallman noted, "You might wonder and fear at times what would happen if Snooks and Junior had ever hooked up."

Red Skelton as The Mean Widdle Kid
Read more about the comic man-child in I Won't Grow Up!: The Comic Man-Child in Film from 1901 to the Present.

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