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Tony Pastor (1837-1908) started out as a circus performer and progressed to songwriter, musical performer, and finally theater manager and owner. Onstage, he specialized in comical, topical, and patriotic songs, and offstage he displayed a shrewd business sense in every aspect of theater operation, from backstage to the front of the house. Although referred to as the father of vaudeville, Pastor preferred the term varietyto describe the entertainment his theaters offered, and his aim was to present shows that would appeal to a family audience. A typical variety show might include comedy sketches, singers, clowns, dancers, and even boxers. Social historian Fields (Women Vaudeville Stars) incorporates the history of popular theater in New York from the middle of the 19th century to just after the dawn of the 20th. His detailed biography is punctuated by a number of contemporary portraits, photographs, and stage bills. Perhaps the only in-print book on this influential performer, this is recommended for popular culture and performing arts collections.
—Carolyn M. Mulac