American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2011 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.† Page 11

New Vaudeville

History X

An octogenarian magician who had worked at the tail end of vaudeville was asked if he had one wish what it would be. He replied that he wished there was no such thing as electricity. Without electricity, he explained, there would be no television and radio, and for entertainment the public would go to live shows and vaudeville would return.

If we are unable to share his melancholy, itís because we cannot miss something that we have never personally lived through. On the other hand, some feel that a vaudeville circuit does exist in which variety entertainers of all stripes perform their acts, make a fine living and spend time with their brethren both on and off the stage. This circuit is found aboard the hundreds of passenger cruise ships traveling the open seas today.

With the demise of the two-a-day, four-a-day and more-a-day vaudeville bill, American variety acts lost their common home. Some adapted to the nightclub and burlesque scenes, but these venues didnít survive much longer than vaudeville and had completely disappeared when the last Playboy Club closed down in the mid-1970s.