Saturday, April 1, 2023

For April Fool’s Day: The Feast of Fools by Trav S.D.

Happy New Year! and April Fools! I don’t mean the opening salutation as an April Fool’s Day joke. Maybe you’d better sit down for this, because it’s the truth and not a prank, and it…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 11:24AM
Friday, March 31, 2023

Christopher Walken Turns 80 by Trav S.D.

Born this day 80 years ago, Ronald “Christopher” Walken (b. 1943). Pop culture has done Walken a disservice, I think, by making him a sort of pop culture punchline, largely due to impres…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 09:36AM
Thursday, March 30, 2023

For National Doctors Day: Several Classic Comedy Doctors by Trav S.D.

Happy National Doctors Day! In keeping with our usual modus operandi, we observe this celebratory day less by honoring the actual medical heroes themselves than their representation in vaude…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 12:54PM
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

For World Piano Day: The Piano Players of Travalanche! by Trav S.D.

Shame on me for never thinking of such a post before, but the 88th day of the year is always World Piano Day! So here’s a post linking to you to many of the folks we’ve written about who…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 12:54PM

Being Bud Cort by Trav S.D.

Always hold out for something better, that’s today’s lesson. I had four potential performing artists flagged whom I might have written about this morning but I could work up an enthusias…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 10:42AM
Tuesday, March 28, 2023

“Chain of Fools” Turns 10 Today by Trav S.D.

Hard to believe but my second little (literally) baby is now a tween! Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube was released ten years ago today, on March 2…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 09:36AM

The Skouras Brothers and 20th-Century Fox by Trav S.D.

While researching my upcoming book on television variety I came upon the interesting fact, related by that inveterate show biz scribe Joe Laurie, that as an early TV experiment, 20th Century…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 08:36AM
Monday, March 27, 2023

On the Fox Sisters and the Birth of Spiritualism by Trav S.D.

The Fox Sisters were not a vaudeville sister act, nor were they related to vaudeville/stage performers like Harry Fox, George L. Fox, Will H. Fox, Imro Fox, Joe Fox, Della Fox, or The Foxy G…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 03:06PM

For World Theatre Day: A Key to the Theatrical Heart of Travalanche by Trav S.D.

March 27 is World Theatre Day and it finds me in a certain place at the moment, gathering a lot of key ideas I keep coming back to over the years, and rearticulating them. I thought it would…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 11:48AM
Sunday, March 26, 2023

On the Popular Phenomenon of Edward Bellamy and “Looking Backward” by Trav S.D.

I know — you were hoping this post would would be about THIS guy — — Martin Laurello, the man who could turn his head backwards, but there’s no need to be disappointed. You can still…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 10:39AM

Tonight: That Slapstick Show Does Wanda Wiley by Trav S.D.

Silent comedienne Wanda Wiley (1902-1987) starred in nearly 50 silent movies for the Stern Brothers at Universal between 1924 and 1927. As we wrote here, Universal unthinkably destroyed most…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 08:38AM
Saturday, March 25, 2023

For Greek Independence Day: On the Origins of Comedy by Trav S.D.

Well, it’s Greek Independence Day, at a historical moment when yahoo school districts are falling all over themselves to ban books so it seemed a propitious time to talk about those indece…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 01:06PM
Friday, March 24, 2023

For World TB Day: The TB Ward of Travalanche by Trav S.D.

My son who’s helping fight disease in Africa (which I’ll never stop bragging about) has told me that it’s World TB Day, and it occurred to me that it would be a simple matter to do our…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 04:12PM

The First Oz Films by Trav S.D.

March 24, 1910 was the release date of the first ever screen version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and we were surprised to note a gap thereupon in our Oz chronicles. Our …

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 07:24AM
Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Movies of Mark Rydell by Trav S.D.

This post arises because we recently re-watched Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973) for about the sixth time (in conjunction with re-reading Chandler’s book) and got curious about th…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 09:48AM
Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Marcel Marceau Centennial by Trav S.D.

Born 100 years ago today, the giant of 20th century French mime Marcel Marceau (Marcel Mangel, 1923-2007). Now, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the born-again Francophilia I k…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 08:50AM
Tuesday, March 21, 2023

For World Puppetry Day: On Some Puppets, Pageants, Parades and Protests by Trav S.D.

It’s World Puppetry Day! We haven’t written tons of puppetry per se to date on Travalanche; our “Ventriloquism and Puppetry” section is overwhelmingly lop-sided in favor of ventriloq…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 04:01PM

The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air by Trav S.D.

This post comes to you through the courtesy of the fact that March 21 is the birthday of Florenz Ziegfeld, and that I happen to be working on a book called Vaudeville in Your Living Room: A …

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 10:00AM
Monday, March 20, 2023

Frennemis Jurés (Sworn Frenemies)! by Trav S.D.

Okay, this is our second post today for French Language Day (here’s the first). I’m just kind of in that place, I must tell you bluntly, it’s not likely to wane at any time before I di…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 12:40PM

For French Language Day: On Rabelais, Gargantua and You by Trav S.D.

It’s been a while since I’ve trotted out my Trav S.D. Theme Song, as its been a while since I’ve performed anything, what with all manner of ills befalling our nation since, oh, I’ll…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 09:17AM
Sunday, March 19, 2023

“The Book of Lists” and The Wonderful Wallaces by Trav S.D.

This will be a telescopic post: about my own times, but also (by way of a stimulated imagination), all of human history as well. Most probably The Book of Lists (1977) will require no introd…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 09:46AM

Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With a Circus by Trav S.D.

March 19 was the natal day of James Otis Kaler, pen name “James Otis” (1848-1912), author of some 200 books for young people, most notably (and relevantly, to us) Toby Tyler, or Ten Week…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 07:05AM
Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Mollie Williams Show by Trav S.D.

March 18 was the birthday of burlesque performer and producer Mollie Williams (Mollie Hersh, 1884-1854). Williams was the daughter of German-Jewish immigrants, and raised in New York, where …

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 07:53AM
Friday, March 17, 2023

Tamara Geva: On Her Toes by Trav S.D.

And now a brief encounter with Russian-American dancer, actress and choreographer Tamara Geva (1906-1997). Geva was the first wife of George Balanchine and a principal member of his first ba…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 08:01PM

Conroy and Fox: Irish Comedians by Trav S.D.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s a wee post to add to our over 270 Irish and Irish-American artists profiled on Travalanche. I first became aware of the team of Conroy and Fox during my r…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 08:38AM
Thursday, March 16, 2023

Jerry Lewis on Television by Trav S.D.

We will divide our readership into two mutually hostile camps by announcing the inauguration of the new Jerry Lewis section of Travalanche! (Haha, yes, we make all the Jerry Lewis people sit…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 01:27PM

The Importance of Robert Lewis by Trav S.D.

Of the many important American exponents of the Stanislavki Method (Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, Stella Adler, Elia Kazan, Sanford Meisner) one who seems never to the forefront of people…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 09:29AM
Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Sly Stone Turns 80 by Trav S.D.

More crazy news: Sylvester Stewart a.k.a. Sly Stone (b.1943) turns 80 years old today. It seems a good reason to shine a spotlight on him for that reason, as does the less happy benchmark th…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 09:39AM

The Roy Family of Performing Albinos by Trav S.D.

Now, here is a remarkable family with a persistent gene for albinism which they put to good pecuniary use. The husband billed himself as Rob Roy, after the Scottish hero, though he later adm…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 06:43AM
Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Diane Arbus Centennial by Trav S.D.

Yow! I almost found out too late that today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Diane Arbus (Diane Nemerov (1923-1971)! It’s pronounced “Dee-ann”, by the way. It’s rare for u…

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 04:48PM

Remembering the Times Square Two by Trav S.D.

I very much hope to get a chance at a second edition of No Applause at some point. In addition to correcting the spelling of Bud Abbott’s name, and a small handful of other imperfections, …

SOURCE: Trav S.D. at 11:14AM

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