American Vaudeville Museum

All material 1998-2011 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc. Page 4

Toby Time

History III

Vaudeville was never an easy life despite the rosy remembrances of its top stars decades after the struggle had landed them on Broadway or in films, radio and television. For them the struggle turned into success. Of the many others it was a grueling grind of small time theatres. The performers had no security beyond their current contracts and they dwelt in an isolation that ill-prepared them for life after the death of Lady Vaudeville.

For black entertainers it was worse; they were segregated. The theatres they worked in hardly deserved the name. Promised earnings were minuscule and unsupported by enforceable contracts. Local law was always on the side of the white owners.