Vaudeville Performers: Love ’em and Hate ’em

Vaudeville performers, like those in touring theatricals, were adored on stage and snubbed off it. Lumped together with other itinerants like gypsies, hobos, and vagabonds, they were met with suspicion and distrust wherever they went. They were assumed to be criminals–pickpockets, fakers, shoplifters, grifters. Many hotels refused to take in vaudeville players or actors. Those that did were the lowest quality, usually with one shared toilet per hall and located near the train station. These would cost around a dollar a night. Performers usually tried to save the dollar by taking a night train, traveling on Saturday night after the last performance of the week and arriving in the next town on Sunday. Boarding houses often took up the slack. Most vaudeville performers stayed in boarding houses for a week at a time, eating breakfast and sometimes dinner there, if their schedules allowed. 

Circus and carnival workers, called carnies, were even more distrusted, but they had an advantage: they didn’t have to search for lodging at every stop. They lived in wagons that traveled with the show. 

Published in: on January 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Mary each time I see a message from you I am eager to read it. You are so committed to what you do and I am truly interested and love see
    what you have learned to share with us.

    I have always loved this era and you keep finding interesting information. I appreciate your love for this period as it is a love of mine also. Please keep it coming.


    • Thank you, Diane. What is your interest in this period? Historical? Personal? Past lives 🙂 ?

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