Saturday, July 4, 2015

Billy Gilbert’s Return to the Footlights

Billy Gilbert spent the 1930s making memorably funny appearances in nearly 200 films, but the actor missed his vaudeville days and he felt the urge to return to performing before a live audience.  Gilbert was featured in a theatre revue called "America, I Love You," which debuted in Pittsburgh in April, 1942.  Billboard reported,
"[Gilbert] earns his pay.  Garbed as a cook, with his wife [Ella] as a deft foil, Gilbert dialogs for 15 minutes to plenty of laughs.  His plays on words, and his gestural recipes for making beans and Boston cream pie are classic.  His finale, naturally, is big traditional sneezing turn and the house loved it.  For encore, he sings 'Sheik of Araby' as he did in the film Tin Pan Alley, and if you weren't looking at him and saw his huge bulk, you'd swear he was a sylph-shaped, dreamy-eyed, dusky band crooner."
Gilbert must have enjoyed his comeback to the stage because he made stage roles his priority after 1945.

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