American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2010 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.† Page 30

William Morris

1873 - 1929


William Morris was honest, his word was his bond, he was fearless but never ruthless, and was universally admired by friends and foes.

He never learned to speak English gracefully, and he got very little schooling because he was always working at something as a boy.† Since all accounts insist he was earning $15,000 a year by the time he was twenty, a very handsome salary for the time, his lack of education seems not to have been a bar to his profession.

Morris booked for some of the most respected vaudeville owners in the business, and over the years acquired a few theatres himself.† He was essentially an independent when the days of monopoly were dawning.† In one of the great doublecrosses of show business, he got caught in a contest between the Keith-Albee combine and the Erlanger-Shubert forces.† Only Morris emerged with honor.

His son, William Jr. and Abe Lastfogel built the agency into the most respected and perhaps the largest of its day.† When William, Sr., died of a heart attack while playing cards at the Friarís Club in Manhattan, eulogists outdid themselves and did so sincerely.