About Me

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Burnt Cork Players

Hey, is that the famous vaudeville cowboy Will Rogers, the world's best-known celebrity in the 1920s? Nope, sorry. The “real” Will Rogers was, according to his papers, vacationing with his family in Atlantic City, New Jersey in June 1909.

Bun Granville and Will Rogers who give their address as Rock Springs Park, East Liverpool, in the Variety ad were black face or “burnt cork” minstrel comics who appeared on vaudeville stages at the same time Will Rogers was becoming well known as a trick roper.

White blackface performers in the past
used burnt cork and later greasepaint
or shoe polish to blacken their skin.
It is not inconceivable that cowboy Will Rogers might have appeared at Rock Springs Park as he was in the area on several occasions and is known to have performed at East Liverpool’s Ceramic Theater, according to the ELO Historical Society.

“Although the American Theatre continued to sponsor vaudeville shows and the Ceramic sponsored spectacular stage shows and appearances by performers like Will Rogers, both theatres also showed movies.”

Blackface Minstrel shows ended in the United States with the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. But those of us too young to remember them might remember the American country music television show Hee Haw (1969–1993). According to one account, its format resembled the content of a minstrel show, musical numbers interspersed with rapid-fire comedy bits.

No comments: