American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2010 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 40

Tony Pastor

Tony Pastor, Father of Vaudeville


by Armond Fields (2007, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC, USA and London, UK: ISBN 978-0-7864-3054-3).


Highly Recommended: by Frank Cullen


It has been 37 years since Parker Zellers’ biography of the “Dean of Vaudeville” was published, and Armond Fields has ferreted out far more information than Mr. Zellers had at hand. The result is an excellent study of Tony Pastor, his family, his contemporaries, his career and the evolution of vaudeville from incidental entertainment in independently-owned concert saloons and beer halls to the first corporation-managed mass market entertainment.

Within more general books about vaudeville, Mr. Pastor has been depicted as a visionary who alone created variety entertainment fit for the entire family, as well as a reactionary, who refused to move along with the times, never ventured beyond his own theaters and declined to forsake the term variety for the more palatable one of vaudeville. Pastor advertised his shows as vaudeville, and season after season he toured his own vaudeville units, precursing the circuits that rose later in the nineteenth century. Tony’s earliest tours took him through New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and Chicago became nearly as important to his financial and critical success as Manhattan. Later, he took his units all the way to the Pacific Coast.