American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.† Page 2

Edward Franklin Albee

For more information about E. F. Albee send for Volume IX, Issue 2 of

Vaudeville Times


The American Vaudeville Museum recommends Vaudeville Wars: How the Keith-Albee and Orpheum Circuits Controlled the Big Time and Its Performers by Arthur Frank Wertheim (2006, Palgrave-Macmillan, ISBN 1403968268).

Edward Franklin Albee was the single most powerful man in vaudeville for 20 years. In 1884, Albee brought great ambition and vision to the infant enterprise of Benjamin Keithís and George Batchellerís dime museum on Washington Street in Boston. Like Keith, Ned Albee was a hard-nosed, wary New Englander who had served an apprenticeship in the circus. As Keith dropped back from the day-to-day operations of their theatres, Albee became the concernís general manager. When Keith began to disengage and retire, it was Albee who assumed full control rather than Keithís son Paul, who, for four years, was the figurehead of what had become the most important, prestigious, enduring and largest of all American vaudeville circuits.

There has always been debate as to who was the architect of that success: B. F. Keith or E. F. Albee. Keith was fiscally cautious. Albee envisioned a vaudeville empire whose glory was the beautiful theatres he built rather than the performers he hired.