Friday, August 28, 2015

The Straw Hat Armageddon

The year was 1919.  The "Flugel Street" routine had debuted only the year before and already it was a burlesque standard.

Seeing how uproariously audiences laughed at straw hats being destroyed inspired a number of other comedians.  These comedians believed that the routine could be just as funny if it was stripped down to its bare essentials.  Did anyone really care if the comedian had his hat destroyed by a union worker embroiled in a strike against the local hat company?  The act of destroying a patsy's hat needed just as much context as the act of smashing a pie into a patsy's face.  Just tear apart a straw hat, they thought, and the audience will love it.  Let’s call it the Gallagher Principle.  A comedian needs no reason to destroy things. Destroying stuff is funny.

Already, jugglers were getting laughs tossing around straw hats on stage. The act was so popular that jugglers were fighting each other to take credit for this frenetic type of clowning. 
September 19, 1919
Variety Artists’ Forum
In Variety of Sept. 12, I notice where Harry Barrett claims to be the originator of the throwing of the "boomerang" straw hat.
I wish to state he is quite correct as far as the novelty of straw hats is concerned. The material we have used for a number of years over numerous circuits. The act was billed as "The Original Barretts." I was a student and later years a partner with Harry Barrett. Therefore I am entitled to do all comedy bits and juggling material with straw hats that I originated while a partner with Harry Barrett and after we had dissolved partnership in the season of 1916.
Harold Baker (of Johnson, Baker and Johnson)
(Note: It was hardly unusual to submit a letter to Variety to take credit for an act. The letter that preceded this one had Wilber C. Sweatman, a ragtime musician, claim that he had originated the business of playing two clarinets at the same time.)

Several years later, Baker was still playing with boomerang hats, although one of his Johnson partners had by now left the act.

Variety, April 26, 1923.  Review of appearance at the Palace Theatre, Chicago:
Johnson and Baker open with hat juggling and comedy, in which the work of the comedian is 95 percent or more of the act. The catching of straw hats thrown by people in the audience and the return of the hats pretended to have been thrown out by accident give extra comedy interest, and the head catches of the comedian are truly astonishing as well as being fine comedy.
Believe it not, the duo was still at the same act five years later. The advantage that vaudeville had over film and television was that it did not burn through material.

Variety, February 22, 1928. Review of appearance at the Rivera Theatre, Chicago.
Johnson and Baker, opened with one of those boomerang acts utilizing scads of straw hats.  Managed for fair laugh.
But other teams of jugglers provided their own versions of the act. This sort of act seemed to go over especially well in Chicago.

Variety, October 13, 1926. Review of appearance at the Capitol Theatre, Chicago.
Moran and Stanley threw straw hats all over the theatre and had the crowd in an uproar. Their familiar vaudeville turn was new to the picture house and lined up as the third show stopper.
Variety, February 29, 1928. Review of appearance at the Congress Theatre, Chicago.
Gabby Brothers opened with their straw hats of boomerang propensities, eccentric diablo tossing and smartly-passed Indian clubs.
Still, the straw hats took far greater abuse from the comedians.  Let us now look at the top annihilators of straw hats on the comedy scene. In the following passages, you will come across the terms "nut," "nutty" and "nuttism."  Keep in mind that a "nut comedian" was, at the time, a well-established category of comedian.  Vaudeville historian Frank Cullen described the nut comedian as having "an original personality and unique style" and "readily abandon[ing] narrative and logic to follow a momentary whim to get laughs." Cullen noted, "[An audience] never knew where the nut comedian was headed or what impromptu event would send him veering off course. . ."

Jack Rose 

Jack Rose was born in London in 1888.  His name at birth was John Hale.   At the age of 18, he left behind England to become a vaudeville comedian in the United States.  At first, he billed himself as "Happy Jack Hale," but he eventually became known on stage by the simpler and catchier name Jack Rose.  It took a few years before he received attention in the press.  By then, he was working in Chicago as part of the trio Rose, Young and Freeman.  Rose went on to create a double act with George Clifford.   The duo toured as part of a burlesque company called "The Cherry Blossoms."

Rose had a knack for getting into trouble with the police.  The first time that one of his arrests made it into the newspapers occurred in August, 1914.  Rose had the bad judgment of skipping out of a hotel without paying his bill.  He was sentenced to 60 days in the Detroit House of Correction.  Unfortunately, Rose found after he had served his sentence that his troubles were not yet over.  The following item appeared in Variety: 
When Jack Rose, 26-year old actor, stopped out of the house of correction last Saturday after serving a thirty-day sentence for defrauding the Hotel Pontchartrain, three Buffalo detectives were on hand to greet him. Thirty minutes later he was en route to Buffalo, where another charge of defrauding a hotel awaits him.
By 1917, Rose had a new partner, Earl Lehman.  Lehrman played straight man in comedy bits and provided piano accompaniment while Rose sang.  Rose maintained his act in this essential form for the remainder of his career.  The one element of the act that Rose periodically changed was the partner who acted as his piano-playing straight man.

Rose's partner in 1918 was Mike Bernard.  At the time, the act was receiving frequent write ups in Variety. The act had developed into a madcap improvisation.  One night, a Variety critic was startled when Rose suddenly stopped singing and chased Bernard off the stage.  Once he was composed, the wild comedian explained to the audience that his partner had been playing too loud and chasing him off stage was something he "just had to do."

Rose was playing good theaters, including the Palace, the Majestic and the Winter Garden.  The owner of the Winter Garden, J. J. Shubert, became good friends with Rose and frequently employed him as a master of ceremonies.

Rose's life outside the theater was not going as well.  The comedian was arrested for getting into a fistfight in September and, for an undisclosed reason, he was admitted into Chicago's American Hospital for surgery in October.

Rose often clowned in public.  Variety reported, "Rose's antics at the Polo Grounds has made him well known to all baseball fans. One of his favorite stunts is to break up his hat or toss it out onto the diamond."  The fact that the crowds at the stadium laughed so heartily at him destroying a hat gave him an idea for his stage act.

The New York Clipper, September 24, 1919. Review of appearance at the Eighty-first Street Theatre, New York.
Jack Rose, who terms himself as a "Specialist for the Blues," appeared in a nut act that scored.  He opens with a nut song and puts his gags over in a manner that scores a laugh every time.  Although a greater part of his act is given over to slapstick in which a half score of straw hats are destroyed, his personality is that of a natural nut making his bit a sure hit.
Variety, October 29, 1919,  Review of appearance at the Colonial Theatre, New York.
With numerous straw hats, Jack Rose was next with his nut offering.  If Rose is not a natural born nut, he certainly has acquired the knack of being one, because it is hard to credit mere imitation to such a creditable performance.
Variety, November 28, 1919.  Review of appearance at the American Roof, New York.
Jack Rose was topping the bill at the Roof the last half and deserved his elevation, for he carried off the comedy honors easily.  Rose was on next to closing and broke a few extra straw hats in appreciation of the audience's approval.  He also interpolated another ad lib piece of business when he climbed down into the orchestra and found a seat for the leader between two of the female patrons.  He introduced the leader, saying: "Customers, this is the leader. Leader, meet two of the customers."  Then he asked for suggestions and played various shouted requests on the piano.
The New York Clipper, December 17, 1919.  Review of appearance at the Audubon Theatre, New York.
Jack Rose is one of the few acts that this theatre has held over for a full week.  Rose now has a pianist with him.  He put in some new songs for his second half, and some new gags, among them a satire on mind-reading, ala Billy Gibson and Wellington Cross.  He went off to a big hit and also gave his pianist a bow which the latter deserved.
Variety, January 19, 1921.  Review of appearance at the Palace Theatre, Chicago.
Jack Rose, supported by Sophie Tucker, Blossom Seeley, Bennie Fields, Jules Buffano and a lot of personal pals out front, made the Monday matinee a family affair.  His vaudeville return in the theatre where for weeks during the run of "Scandals" ["George White's Scandals of 1920"] he appeared every Monday afternoon, blowing his whistle from his seat and working as an impromptu volunteer "plant" to all the chummy headliners, was a hearty compliment to this really lovable on-and-off clown.  Rose has lots of friends here.  He never missed a professional night while in town in any garden, and he kept the whole Hotel Sherman population ahowling many an hour many a night in the lobby.  Now that he is back where they can do as much for him — as much as they can, anyway — the reciprocity shows, and it showed at the first performance resoundingly.  After the main portion of his act he pointed out the stars in the seats and the audience made them come up.  Miss Tucker sang a song, with Buffano at the piano, and Rose broke it up with his nuttisms.
Beneath the hat wrecking, falling, oohing mannerisms of the unashamed jester, Rose has a good deal of comic artistry.  He handles himself with an easy grace and he can point a joke as few men can.  With an eccentric lyric that fits him he can turn vaudeville circles.  He has now at the piano a perfect assistant in James Steiger, a masculine type of pianist who really chips in nifties with effect.  Rose sang four or five songs, told a couple of stag stories (cleaned up) so wittily that nobody got really mad over them, and, after the assemblage of the mighty for a chorus, and Miss Tucker's contribution of a huge florist's horseshoe of radishes, onions and cauliflower, he did a gentlemanly comedy encore, made a modest speech and retired the overwhelming panic of this show.  He probably would have been that without a familiar face in the audience.  Rose has an act worth any spot in any theatre anywhere.
Variety, February 2, 1921. Review of appearance at the State-Lake Theatre, Chicago.
Jack Rose, with Jimmie Steiger at the piano, clowned, sang numbers, blew his whistle to everybody's satisfaction and a smashing applause hit. Jack can stay around here for six months and still be new. He may be nutty, but he knows what he's doing and never oversteps himself once.
Rose's act grew in popularity over the next three years.  Variety called Rose "probably the best cabaret entertainer in America today."  How could breaking hats and blowing a whistle be so entertaining?   A Variety critic addressed this very issue in a review.  He wrote, "The psychology of laughter is indeed an interesting study.  Here is a man who does nothing intrinsically funny in itself, and yet he projects across the footlights an indefinable something that makes you laugh with him, and at him."

Variety, May 6, 1921. Review of appearance at the Colonial Theatre.
Jack Rose, "nut" comedian and singer, is ably supported by Jimmy Steiger at the piano, a feeder who does so with no apparent ostentation, which makes a splendid foil for the "crazy" comic, who destroys a straw hat every so often - to the hilarious delight of the assembled multitude.
Variety, May 6, 1921.
Jack Rose, the "nut" comic, who played his first Palace, New York, engagement a few weeks ago, has received one of the longest routes ever issued out of the Orpheum Circuit offices as a result.   Rose will open on the Orpheum Circuit in August and plays consecutively until next June.  The blanket includes the Junior Orpheum houses and the Interstate Circuit.
Variety, October 28, 1921.  Review of appearance at the Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco.
Jack Rose, Jimmy Stelger at the piano, caught on with a bang next to closing, stopping the show.   He works strictly within propriety in original nuttism fashion.  He also can put comedy songs over.  His breaking of half a dozen straw hats and loaning of feminine headgear from the audience send him away to howls.
Rose inspired imitators, as the following review will show.

Variety, December, 1921.  Review of appearance at the Columbia Theatre, New York.
[Sam] Stein sings a popular song to the piano, with exaggerated "nut" delivery, finally breaking straw hat a la Jack Rose.  Crossfire conversation with [Billy] Smith follows, Stein working in a French accent for laughs.
Variety, January 27, 1922.  Review of appearance at the Palace Theatre, Chicago.
Jack Rose in the next to closing spot, coming on at 10:35, did not have much of a task in corralling the audience.  Jack started off on "high" and kept stepping along at that pace throughout. Rose has achieved the distinction of polishing his offering up and giving it that touch of finesse which is relished in the high-class vaudeville theatres.  His "bit" of leading the orchestra seems to go as strong as ever.  It seemed as though the folks could not get enough of Rose and Jimmy Steiger, his accomplice, for at 11:05 he stopped the show cold and the audience were still insisting on Jack coming out and clowning some more.  But Jack in a speech showed good showmanship by calling the attention of the audience to the lateness of the hour and the fact that still another act was to appear.
Rose got married in February, 1922.  It was a troubled relationship from beginning to end.  Variety reported:
Jack Rose cleared the matrimonial hurdles for a second time.   He returned Friday morning from Valparlso, Ind., with Mrs. Jack Rose No. 2 clinging to his arm. Mrs. Rose was formerly Jeanette Odette, a member of Ziegfeld "Follies" chorus. Recently she brought suit against Rose for $50,000, claiming breach of promise.  This meant nothing to Jack while he was touring the Orpheum Circuit and away from Chicago. Two weeks ago when he returned here to play at the Palace, Rose met Miss Odette on the street. She smiled. Jack said "Hello."  They were together, never to be separated again.
Variety, July 26, 1922. Review of appearance at the Riverside Theatre, New York.
Jack Rose admitted having played every other Keith house except this — maybe they're too particular up here, he said — but was forced in as an added starter to sub for Gordon Dooley and Alan Coogan, out through knee injury to one of the team.  Rose was No. 4 and proved an exceedingly bright interlude, jazzing things up considerably with his "nutisms." Jimmy Steiger accompanying at the baby grand is now on the rostrum. Formerly he worked in the trench as Rose's sole accompanist.   He is more of a straight than an ivory tickler, although he did the feeding formerly also to a lesser degree. The changes in Rose's methods are obvious.  He still breaks a half dozen straw hats and still "nuts" and clowns unashamedly and unaffectedly, but there is finesse in his methods now.
Variety, July 28, 1922. Review of appearance at the Palace Theatre, New York.
Jack Rose opened after intermission in his nut specialty, doubling from the Riverside. Rose is assisted by Jimmy Steiger at the piano, who straights, sings and handles the box while Rose is monologing, crossfiring and breaking straw hats for wows.
Rose received a less than favorable review when he made a visit to England.

Variety, September 1, 1922. Review of appearance at the Victoria Palace, London.
Jack Rose, billed as "Dr. Jack Rose, Specialist for the Blues," with Jimmy Steiger at the piano, palpably nervous, did more than well, but he needs some advice before he can connect for his full value with English audiences.   As a matter of fact Rose is an Englishman who ran away from home 17 years ago.  His sister is manager of the Kennington theatre here, and should have given him some advice before he opened.   His principal weakness is in rhapsodically announcing to the audience, "I'm a nut." In England a "nut" is a "dude," and he should have substituted the phrase "I'm balmy," or "I'm up the pole," or some similar colloquialism.  Other deletions necessary are "My God," which is regarded here as sacrilegious, and "hell" and "damn."  All of which has probably been told him by now.  The downstairs and balcony attendance "got" him nicely, but there was a noticeable silence on the part of the gallery folks, who didn't seem to understand what he was doing.

Variety, April 9, 1924. Review of appearance at the Palace Theatre, Chicago.
Jack Rose broke five hats, cut up generally and impressed decidedly.  When last seen Steiger presided at the piano in the trench. Now he's on the rostrum at a baby grand while Rose at one stage descends into the trench to conduct the orchestra.  Among other things he dons a pair of boxing gloves while wielding the directorial wand.   One crack, aimed at his partner, was: "Any guy who talks so much must have a touch of female in him somewheres."
Rose continued to get into trouble off stage.  In January, 1924, Rose got into an argument with theatrical attorney Harry Sacks "Hecky" Hechheimer in the lobby of the Hotel Sherman.  The fight ended with Rose punching Hechheimer in the face, breaking the attorney's nose.  Police arrived quickly and arrested Rose.

And, then, we have this story. . .
July 2, 1924
Wife of Comedian Alleges She Was Substitute for Battered Straw Hat
Mrs. Janet Lawson Ross, former chorus girl bride of Jack Rose, the comedian, who kicks the stuffing out of straw hats, is suing Jack for divorce on the ground of cruelty, she claiming to have been substituted for the straw kelly.  This Jack denies, saying he may have played with her, but never roughly.
Mrs.Rose recites that John once insisted that she do a disrobing act in a "swell cafe on the north side of Chicago," and hastened the performance by tearing the dress off her back, to the delighted entertainment of a dining room full of guests. Jack says she must have caught the dress on a nail.
Rose reached the top tier in the theatre world when the Shubert Brothers cast him in "The Passing Show of 1924."  Variety was complimentary of Rose's performance in the show:
Jack Rose was in the asylum bit and he served well.  Had he been worked into the second set skits the comedy values might have been increased.  His scoring appearance was in his specialty next to closing in the first section.  He broke up six straw hats during the monologue, not the least comic stunt being a quick change of lids at the entrance, walking thence each time for a fresh supply.
In August, 1925, Rose crashed his car and was arrested for reckless driving.

Variety, February 10, 1926.  Review of appearance at the Palace Theatre, Chicago.
The latest was Jack Rose who played the Palace and Albee last week doubling from both houses and plugging the Shuberts in each stand.  Rose was allowed more laxity at the Palace than any act that has played the house this season.  He used the words "hell" and "damn," mentioned he was working for the Shuberts and playing the Palace as a side line and took other liberties.
In April, 1926, Rose saw a doctor to complain about stomach pain.  He assumed that he was suffering from an ulcer, but tests showed that he had contracted intestinal cancer.  His doctor recommended surgery to remove the cancerous tissue.  Rose was willing to have to surgery, but he didn’t have the money to pay for it.  Shubert turned over the Winter Garden Theatre for a benefit show.  Al Jolson and Sophie Tucker were reported to have worked hard to organize talent and sell tickets.  The benefit brought in more than $16,000 from ticket sales, collections and pledges.  A significant amount of the pledges came from Broadway producers Albert H. Woods and Rufus LeMaire.

Variety noted that, at the benefit, "Rose clowned with visitors." But Rose was less jovial with his close friends. Variety later reported:
Standing at Broadway and 47th Street the day before he had to enter the hospital, some friends were trying to be jocular in dismissing the danger.  "Kid all you want to," he said, "this is going to be the finish."
At first, Rose seemed to be in good spirits after his surgery.  Variety reported, "[Rose] has been cheerful while confined, ‘gagging’ as usual with his callers." The truth was, though, that he had no reason to be cheerful. The surgeon had found the cancerous growth to be highly developed.  Rose had come for treatment too late and there was nothing doctors could do to save him.

Sophie Tucker got Rose set up in an apartment and got a nurse to take care of him.  Rose's mother and sister traveled from England to spend time with him.

Rose became delirious with visitors and caretakers.  He shouted violently at his sister.  It became clear that he was having hallucinations.  Variety explained that, according to his doctor, the hallucinations and the other mentally unbalanced behavior had "aris[en] as an effect of the operation."   Delirium brought on by anesthesia and other surgical complications does happen at times.  Authorities committed Rose to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital after he contacted police in hysterics and demanded that they arrest his sister.

Rose died on May 29, 1926.  His death received extensive coverage in Variety. William Morris, president of the Jewish Theatrical Guild of America, published a memoriam that read,

He gave the world laughter galore, 
May his soul rest in peace evermore. 

Variety summarized Rose’s career as follows: "In vaudeville Rose did a single turn of the nutty variety, smashing a few straw hats while on the stage in his apparently wild deportment.   In his comedy talk he would also become 'nutty' at times, making 'cracks' now and anon which startled the initiated." He was said to have been as nutty off stage as he was on stage.  Variety described him as a "natural freak."

Rose's act lived on past his death.

Variety, July, 1927.  Review of appearance at Victoria Palace, London.
Then came Wright and Marion, a man and woman in cross-talk, who have also appeared in America, but are in reality Eastenders.  The man depends principally for his comedy on breaking his straw hat, a la Jack Rose, handling the woman vulgarly, accompanied by occasionally suggestive jokes.  They got away nicely.
Variety, July 4, 1928.  Review of appearance at the El Capitan Theatre, San Francisco.
Between changes of scene, an unprogrammed comic pulled a Ted Lewis and then tore up straw hats a la Jack Rose. . .
In 1941, a warm tribute was paid to Rose in a Variety column.  The comedian was called "a great nut act with plenty of talent."

Jack Inglis  

Inglis started out with a more creative sort of hat act, but he eventually saw that he could entertain audiences just as easily by savagely tearing apart hats.

The New York Clipper, August 4, 1920.  Review of appearance at the Proctor’s Theatre, New York.
Jack Inglis, formerly of Duffy and Inglis, opens his present act with a song and is followed around the stage by an assistant with whom he subsequently has some talk. A nut Indian song is next rendered.  Inglis seated, playing on a tom-tom.  A table is then brought forth by a couple of stage hands containing quite a number of hats.  Inglis does a recitation and uses various hats to illustrate the characters of which he is speaking, i. e. a conductor, a fire-man, etc.  As the recitation nears the end, in the excitement of the climax, the wrong hats are used with considerable comedy effect. It was this bit that was good for the best laugh in the act.
But this act, as creative and enthusiastic as it had been, was not the act that was referenced in Inglis' obituary when the comedian died on April 25, 1938.  Variety reported, "[Inglis] had been on the vaudeville stage for more than 30 years, his trademark being penchant for tearing up straw hats."

Like Rose, Inglis did not come to a good end.  Variety noted, "[Inglis] had been in poor health for the past six years, and two years ago both legs were amputated.   In spite of this, he had appeared, at numerous benefits, working in a wheeled chair."

Sid Lewis

Variety, July 14, 1926. Review of appearance at the Majestic Theatre, Chicago.
Continuing the battle against a small audience and empty seats Sid Lewis nutted his way to a strong finish busting three straw hats on the way.  Sid tells gags getting first the orchestra leader, then the drummer, then members of the audience to act as his straight.  An audience helper, no doubt a plant, sang the expected ballad, the one touch that keeps Lewis from being pretty unique.  Lewis is great for the stuff around here.
Variety, July 18, 1928. Review of appearance at the American Roof, New York.
The show [in] the first half had a tough time getting the audience started, which mitigated against hits. Sid Lewis slammed them for the first clean-up.  His nutty way of making wisecracks, kidding the boys out front and banging away at his own [back]drop with his cane and smashing a few straw hats to back up his billing got them.
The curse of the hat destroyers struck again.  It was March 7, 1934.  Lewis was en route from Nashville to a booking in Sheffield, Alabama, when his car skidded and turned over several times.  He died within hours after being admitted to the hospital.  Lewis was 47 years old.

Barr, Mayo and Wren 

Variety, June 18, 1923.  Review of appearance at the City Theatre, New York.
Barr, Mayo and Wren, following with another session of talk, made the show a bit gabby along here.  The noises also affected this act somewhat.   It's a combination of fop, sap, and woman doing straight at times. The comic doing the sap breaks up a straw hat for laughs. Figuring on a basis of the act doing three a day or 21 shows a week for a season of 40 weeks, that means the destruction of 840 straw hats.  At two a day and 14 shows a week, in 40 weeks, 660 straw hats a season.  And in ten years that would make 5,600 hats.  But it's great for the hat business.  The trio does some excellent close harmony for a finish.

Dave Thursby 

Dave Thursby
Variety, December 24, 1924. Review of appearance at the 5th Avenue Theatre, New York.
Straw hats were most heavily played, two being soaked in succeeding acts on the bill, the first with [Dave] Thursby and the second with the Warren and O'Brien turn.
W. S. Van Dyke
It was reported that, on occasion, film director W. S. Van Dyke found himself in a "hat-busting mood." The following item appeared in a 1931 issue of The New Movie Magazine:
W. S. Van Dyke, M-G-M's adventurer-director, almost lives for the end of the Summer season, when he revels in pounding on all unsuspecting straw hats and breaking them.
Take a look at this inscription that Van Dyke wrote on back of a photo: "To you Herman - and for God's sake, keep your damned old straw hats out of my reach when I'm hungry!"

Van Dyke is just the type of off-centered individual who belonged on Flugel Street.

Additional notes 

Jack Rose took an upward stride with The Cherry Blossoms, which toured as part of the Western Burlesque Wheel.  Variety described the group as "clever burlesquers" capable of "bright talk" and "catchy songs."  The New York Clipper wrote of the troupe in 1903: "Pretty women, fine costumes, good comedians and lively burlesque and vaudeville contributed an entertainment well worth while."  The comedians would present at least two extended comedy routines in every performance.  Their most popular routines included "Quarrelsome Neighbors," "The Wrong Mr. Tobasco" and "Look Out Below."  They performed an early version of "Crazy House" called "Dr. Dippy's Sanitarium." They sometimes staged spoofs of popular plays, an example of which was a burlesque of "Brewster's Millions" called "Booster's Millions."   John H. Perry was, according to Variety, their "prime fun provider."  He occasionally appeared in sketches as a comic tramp, which had been his specialty before he joined the group.  A Variety critic found the production to be a rough assembly of acts, but he was grateful that the comedians did not resort to slapstick or action that was "tiresome or offensive."   He wrote, "[The show] is clean and wholesome in its purpose and serves well as an entertainment.  The chorus does some strenuous work in a series of musical numbers, three being splendid."  The chorus was always the main treat for the audience.  The New York Clipper called the chorus "a bewitching array of feminine beauty." An effort was made to keep the dance numbers interesting and creative.  Variety wrote of the show after a Boston appearance: "The costuming is new and bright and the idea of having a bunch of girls come out in the uniform of policemen is clever."

The comedy acts varied in style and talent, as the following reviews will show.

Variety, November 1907.  Review of appearance at the Howard Theatre, Boston.
Frank Ross, "the singing Jew," tells some pretty old jokes, sandwiched in between one or two new ones, and he also gets off some decidedly raw ones.
Variety, October, 1910. Review of appearance at the Empire Theatre, Chicago.
Minnie Granville and Eddie Mack, principals with "the Cherry Blossoms," have developed an excellent act, presented as a number in the show's olio.  The Italian character drawing by Mack is one of surpassing excellence.  He is not exaggerated in either costume or dialect; makes his "wop" a man of humor and intelligence, in contrast to the general run of this sort of character now being shown.  Miss Granville makes up excellently, looks the part of a cleanly Italian girl, but constantly neglects her dialect.  She could easily remedy this defect by paying closer attention.  The act introduces a hurdy-gurdy, the singers drawing it onto the stage when they enter and taking it with them when they depart.  For one of their songs Mack plays the barrel-organ to accompany Miss Granville, both using the orchestra for a second number which takes them off.  There is an excellent line of comedy talk between songs, Miss Granville "feeding" for Mack's good results.  The act would make a fine vaudeville interlude.
In closing, let me bring up a strange footnote to this story.  I found this ad for a 1917 play called "Lily of the Valley."

Note that the supporting cast includes Jack Rose, Jack Inglis and Sid Lewis.

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