Joe Weber (vaudevillian)

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Joe Weber
Joe Weber and Lew Fields.jpg
Weber and Fields (c. 1899)
Born (1867-08-11)August 11, 1867
New York City, USA
Died May 10, 1942(1942-05-10) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, USA
Occupation Vaudevillian

Joe Weber (11 August 1867, New York City - 10 May 1942, Los Angeles) after a two-month illness,[ambiguous] born Joseph Morris Weber was a vaudevillian who, along with Lew Fields, formed the comedy team of Weber and Fields.

Biography[edit]

Fields and Weber formed their partnership while still children, the two appeared at Bowery saloons, museums, circuses, and in 1885 made their first stage appearance at Miner's Bowery Theater, New York. Their slapstick, rough-house, English-garbling antics soon caught on and they were a sensation in San Francisco where they appeared for 10 weeks for $250 per week, an unusually high salary at that time. The young men had a "Dutch act" in which both portrayed German immigrants. They returned to New York, appearing at Tony Pastor's theater on 14th Street, and in 1894 made their Broadway debut in Hammerstein's Olympia. They had three companines on the road and in 1895, the partners opened the Weber and Fields Broadway Music Hall where they produced very successful burlesques of popular Broadway shows. In the music hall's casts were some of the greatest performers and comics on the American stage at that time including Lillian Russell, Fay Templeton, Ross and Fenton and DeWolf Hopper, David Warfield, Peter F. Daily, Mabel Fenton, Marie Dressler, Willie Collier and Sam Bernard. They were forced to close the Broadway Music Hall when the fire at the Iroquois Theater, Chicago, caused strict enforcement of the fire laws in New York. The partners were told that they would have to remodel or close the Music Hall and this caused a disagreement between them which resulted in them temporarily splitting their partnership.[1] The team broke up in 1904,[2] but collaborated anew in 1912, producing the unsuccessful Hokey Pokey.[3]

In 1923, Weber and Fields partnered yet again for a Lee DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film short, where the team recreated their famous pool hall routine. This film premiered at the Rivoli Theater in New York City on 15 April 1923. Three years later, the duo were among those supporting Will Rogers and Mary Garden on the NBC Radio Network's November 15, 1926 debut broadcast. [4] Their own NBC series followed in 1931. [5]

Weber and Fields also reunited for the 27 December 1932 inaugural show at Radio City Music Hall, which proved to be the last stage appearance of the two performers as a team. They gave a cameo performance performing their "casino" routine in the 1940 movie Lillian Russell.

Legacy[edit]

The backstage hostility in Neil Simon's play and film The Sunshine Boys is reportedly based on Weber and Fields or on Smith and Dale, another comedy team.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Billboard, May 23, 1942
  2. ^ Walter Brown & E. De Roy Koch. "Weber, Joseph M.". Who's Who on the Stage, 1908. NY: B. W. Dodge & Co. pp. 444–445. 
  3. ^ Billboard May 23, 1942
  4. ^ Anonymous. "Radio's Effect On The Theatre". Variety, November 17, 1926. NY. pp. 1, 44. 
  5. ^ Anonymous. "Bits of Script". What's on the Air, February 1931. NY. p. 47. 

External links[edit]