Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vaudeville in Los Angeles

Out of curiosity, I Proquested the word Vaudeville to find its first mention in the Los Angeles Times. The result: January 3, 1885, in a blurb describing "vaudeville actress" Katie Putnam, who was coming to the Grand Opera House. Most of the article was a quote from a Memphis review, with phrases like: "Piquant in style...she trusts entirely to her histrionic and vocalistic powers to secure the admiration and applause of the audience."

Hmmm...shouldn't that be vocalistical? People sure talked funny back then.

I found references to a Katie Putnam Troupe in the 1870s or even earlier, but I don't think that's her. Too old. Maybe a relative?

The San Diego Union reviewed her in 1897 as a "charming little commedienne, singer, and dancer."

Aha! Here's a picture from 1911, owned by the University Libraries of U of Washington.

As for the Grand Opera House, that was at 1st and Main--the former Child's Opera House, then the Orpheum. Six months after Katie appeared there, the Grand Opera House presented Los Angeles' first commercial exhibition of moving pictures!

Here's a view of the Orpheum's audience, dated 1898. The caption reads "Smashed the record--at the Los Angeles Orpheum's audience of the Dewey Matinee" and the date is Wednesday, August 9th.

None of which has anything to do with anything. Skipping through old newspapers and the Los Angeles Public Library's online picture collection is just a lot more fun than watching people suffer on television.

1 comment:

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