American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 8

James Barton

1890 — 1961

Joe Laurie, Jr. wrote in Vaudeville: From the Honky-Tonks to the Palace, “Me and Aggie figure that the top all-around artist of today is Jim Barton, who was a burley comic, a skater, a storyteller, a dancer, a singer, a dramatic actor, and a pic, radio and TV star. He can also play an instrument and baseball! There were many single men who could do more things, but Jim was tops in all the things he did.”

In Jazz Dance, Marshall Stearns wrote “In his day Barton was preferred by critics to Jolson, Cantor, Bojangles [Bill Robinson], Astaire, Bolger [and]—as Variety reports—‘whoever anybody was inclined to mention as a master.’ ” Jim Barton was an exceptional singer, one of the great innovative tap dancers, a top comedian and the actor who created the role of Hickey in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. Yet, while lesser talents from the same era are remembered, James Barton has been forgotten.