Gus Sun Time

       Gus Sun was the unlikely name taken by circus juggler Gustave Klotz (born 1868, died 1959) who developed a booking agency that epitomized Small Time Vaudeville. At one time, his circuit included as many as 275 theaters.

       As the name suggests, Small Time vaudeville paid less than Big Time, and it required more work. But it was the starting point for many performers who made it to Big Time and beyond, ultimately to movies, radio, and television.

       Like who? Well, Bob Hope got his start with Gus Sun. So did the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, Fanny “Funny Girl” Brice, Mae West, and many, many more. Most of the theaters Gus booked were located in small towns in the Midwest.

       It was said that Gus was so cheap, he sent all his telegrams collect, making his clients pay to hear from him about bookings and schedule changes. No one dared complain.

       Here’s a typical route for a performer in 1919 (all in Ohio): Cleveland, Lima, Mansfield, Canton, Portsmouth, Newark, and Marion. Gus also  booked theaters in small towns in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and even Canada.


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Mary, did you ever hear of a Gus Sun vaudeville actress, later Barn Dabce comedienne, named Margaret Lillie?

    • No, I haven’t. Why do you ask?

      • I know someone researching Margaret Lillie for a paper, who later ended updating in barn dance radio as the character A’nt Idy. I’m curious about her earlier work in the western circuit and also working for Gus Son. Thanks for replying!

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