Sig Mealey: From the Follies to Babe La Tour’s Bed

Kensico Vaudeville Project #: 8 Name: Sig Mealey Act: Acrobat Born: 20 June 1881, possibly Sweden Died: 1951 Sig Mealey was an accomplished acrobat who appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1909, on the same bill with headliners Nora Bayes and Eva Tanguay, at the Grand Opera House. He was briefly married to burlesque and vaudeville star Babe La Tour. He’s buried in the National Vaudeville Association burial ground with his real and stage name. Continue Reading →

The Kid Acrobat James Bird

Kensico Vaudeville Project #: 7 Name: James Bird Act: Acrobat Born: About 1875 Died: 21 August 1935, New York City In 1890 James Bird’s name appeared in the New York Times, and it wasn’t in the theater department. The headline says it all: “Minors in the Law’s Eyes” and tells: “The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children… cited Marcus Jacobs and Robert Nelson, managers, respectively, of H. R. Jacobs’s Third Avenue Theatre and Continue Reading →

The Mysterious Soldier, Andrew Joseph Basso

Kensico Vaudeville Project #: 6 Name: Andrew Joseph Basso Act: None Born: 16 November 1892, New York City Died: 22 March 1943, New York City There is only one gravestone in the National Vaudeville Association plot that was given by the Veterans Administration, the federal agency that provides official monuments for U.S. servicemen and women. This is for Andrew Joseph Basso, and his tie to vaudeville and show business can’t be confirmed. Basso was born Continue Reading →

From Mississippi to Stage and Screen with Charles Barney

Kensico Vaudeville Project #: 5 Name: Charles Barney Act: Actor-Writer Born: 12 October 1884, Columbus, Mississippi Died: 30 April 1929, New York City Comedy actor and writer Charles Barney (aka Charlie Barnes and Charles Burns) played the vaudeville circuit from New York to Seattle and appeared in early silent pictures. He also wrote fiction and screenplays. Charles Gorham Barney, Jr., was born 12 October 1884, in Columbus, Mississippi. He and his mother, Frances, moved to Continue Reading →

Thomas Banahan, The Forgotten Stage Dad

Kensico Vaudeville Project #: 4 Name: Thomas Banahan Act: Juggler Born: 9 March 1883, Chicago Died: 24 April 1929, New York City The juggler Tommy Banahan was a star in the era before World War I and was the father of silent movie child stars Jane and Katherine Lee. Born on Chicago’s South Side 9 March 1883, he left the Midwest to become an actor. He married an Irish dancer, Irene Lee, and lived off Continue Reading →

Meet the High Diver’s Mother, Anna B. Anderson

Kensico Vaudeville Project #: 3 Name: Anna Bylund Anderson Act: None Born: 31 July 1868, Salt Lake City Died: 26 Mar 1929, New York City This is the final resting place of a woman whose only tie to show business was her daughter, a vaudeville swimmer and high diver. Anna Susanna Bylund was born 31 July 1868 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to immigrants from Norway and Sweden. In 1890 she married George A. Anderson, Continue Reading →

Two Wheels of Hard-Living Fun for Charlie Ahearn

Kensico Vaudeville Project #2 Name: Charles Ahearn Act: Cyclist Born: 5 April 1886 Died: 26 April 1940 Charles Ahearn was “The Racing Man” – a comedian on a bike. His fame took him to play London’s Hippodrome in 1909, where “the smartest and most amusing wheel acts America has ever sent us.” He returned to New York and took out a full-page ad in Variety to hail his triumph. Ahearn appeared with Anna Held at Continue Reading →

Don’t Try and Get One Over On Nettie Kelley Adams

Kensico Vaudeville Project #1 Name: Nettie Kelley Adams Act: Singer Born: 28 Feb 1887 Died: 8 July 1934 It is appropriate that the first name to be added to the Kensico Vaudeville Project is a female singer, since women were so vital to the success of vaudeville. This is one of the graves in the National Vaudeville Association (N.V.A.) burial grounds. Nettie Adams was a star vocalist at the turn of the century. In 1901 Continue Reading →

The Kensico Vaudeville Project Launches

Project Updates and Biographies are posted here. Twenty-eight miles north of Forty-second Street is Kensico Cemetery. Interred there are hundreds—perhaps more than a thousand—stage performers and associates. These men and women were onstage in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. I stumbled across perhaps three hundred old vaudeville entertainers in a little-known plot, long forgotten about, laid out in neat rows in the historic cemetery. The Kensico Vaudeville Project will tell some of their stories. Continue Reading →