From the mid-1800s to the early 1930s, vaudeville existed as a dominant form of entertainment. Here, Slide (The Slide Area, LJ 2/15/93) includes biographies, songs, and subjects that give the reader a full concept of this once-important recreation. The theaters and towns where vaudeville was performed are also covered in the readable text. The mostly referenced entries run from only a few lines to three pages and are followed by a resource list. Names are given in alphabetical order by last name, but, with first names preceding last names in the text, some readers may be confused. Still, this much-needed update will be a valuable addition to most libraries, given the breadth of its coverage. Highly recommended.-Ina M. Wise, Daley Community Coll. Lib., Chicago
Vaudeville, that uniquely American, turn-of-the-century form of entertainment, launched many a career for now legendary stars of stage and screen. Vaudeville theaters were sources of inexpensive, wholesome variety entertainment. Each act lasted about 30 minutes, and audiences were treated to evenings of performances by jugglers, dancers, singers, acrobats, animal acts, magicians, impersonators, and more. Vaudeville offered something to satisfy nearly everyone's tastes Gypsy Rose Lee, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Al Jolson, Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian Russell, W. C. Fields, Ethel Waters, Rudy Vallee, Mae West, and Will Rogers are some of the more well known vaudevillians featured in this encyclopedia. The Ziegfeld Follies, Dolly Sisters, and bandleader Little Jack Little are among the many performers brought to life through detailed descriptions and summaries. In addition, managers, composers, troupes, routines, and animal acts are described. The alphabetically arranged entries are historical and biographical in content. Careers are documented in detail, with sample routines included where appropriate. Some entries conclude with references to further reading. Histories of vaudeville theaters and major cities are also provided. Personal commentaries by former vaudevillians and reflections by contemporary performers add to the flavor of this unusual encyclopedia, as does an insert of black-and-white photographs Slide is a well-known writer on film, theater, and other forms of entertainment. His book, which concludes with a list of library and museum resources, a bibliography, and a detailed index, captures and documents the many components of this bygone era of American entertainment. Most libraries with sizable popular performing arts collections will be interested in acquiring "The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville".
An encyclopedic guide to vaudeville that includes not only information on performers, but also those active behind the scenes in various support capacities. Beyond biographical data, entries on vaudevillians often include contemporary criticism, a sampling of an act's routines, and an appraisal of the performer's place in vaudeville history. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Anthony Slide is an independent scholar who has published seventy-five books on popular entertainment. He has been a specialist appraiser of entertainment memorabilia for more than thirty years, an associate archivist for the American Film Institute, and the resident film historian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.