Harry Steppe

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Harry Steppe
Abraham Stepner

March 16, 1888
DiedNovember 22, 1934(1934-11-22) (aged 46)
OccupationActor, Comedian
Years active1911 – 1934
Spouse(s)Beatrice (1918)
Victoria Dayton (1920-1922)(separated)

Harry Steppe (born Abraham Stepner), March 16, 1888[1] – November 22, 1934[2] was a Russian Jewish[3][4]-American actor,[5] musical comedy performer,[6][7] headliner[8][9] comedian,[10][11] writer,[12] librettist,[13] director and producer,[14] who toured North America working in Vaudeville[6] and Burlesque.[10][15][16][17] Steppe performed at several well-known theaters on the Columbia,[18][19] Mutual and Orpheum[20][21] circuits. Steppe was one of Bud Abbott's first partners.[12][22][23][24][25][26]

Early life[edit]

Born in Russia to Orthodox Jewish parents, Steppe emigrated from Moscow to the United States through Ellis Island with his family in 1892.[27] Steppe became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1899.[28][29]

Steppe's father was a tailor.[29] His brother Michael was a vocalist.[28] One of Steppe's brothers was named Harry[29] but it is not known if this was an inspiration for part of Steppe's stage name.

Steppe lived in Newark, New Jersey[1] and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[14][30][31] At the age of 29, Steppe claimed an exemption from the draft for World War I on the grounds that he supported his widowed mother.[1]


Steppe married twice. His first wife Beatrice, an actress in "Razzle Dazzle of 1918," died at the age of 25 from the Spanish flu, the same year they were married. This sudden loss may have contributed to speculation about Harry's personal struggles with depression.[32]

Other paramours of Harry Steppe included Vaudeville performers Victoria "Vic" Dayton, whom he married in 1920,[33][34] Edna Raymond and Leona St. Clair. Steppe was often billed with actress Lola Pierce,[35] to whom he was also reportedly linked romantically.


Known to theater patrons as "The Hebrew Gent,"[36] Steppe was billed as a Hebrew,[18][37][38] Jewish-dialect or Yiddish-dialect[25] character comedian. One of Steppe's alter egos Ignatz Cohen[30] became a recurring and popular character based on an ethnic Jewish stereotype. Many of Steppe's variety shows featured musical revues and olios with dancing girls, comedy sketches and specialty acts. One performance of Steppe's "Girls from the Follies" featured "eight cycling models with thrilling stunts on wheels," operatic songs, ballroom dancing and chorus girls.[11]

Phil Silvers[39] and others[40] credited Steppe with "introducing the phrase "top banana" into show business jargon in 1927 as a synonym for the top comic on the bill. It rose out of a routine, full of doubletalk, in which three comics tried to share two bananas." Silvers further popularized the term "Top Banana" in his 1951 Broadway musical and 1954 film of the same name. Steppe also claimed to have coined the phrase "Second Banana."

Steppe had a version of a shell game routine called "The Lemon Bit," [12] that used lemons instead of peas. He performed it with Abbott, and Abbott later performed it with Costello in their movie "In the Navy" and in their television program "The Abbott & Costello Show."

Agents and management[edit]

Harry Steppe was represented by several theatrical agencies during his career, including Cain & Davenport[41][42] and Chamberlain and Lyman Brown. Some of his shows were produced by Sam N. Reichblum[43] and well-known burlesque producer I.H. Herk.[1][44] Steppe also secured theater bookings through the support of entertainment circuits, or "wheels," like the B.F. Keith Vaudeville Exchange,[45] the Columbia Amusement Company (so-called "clean" burlesque)[44] and the Mutual Burlesque Association.[20][25][46]


When Steppe became gravely ill and unable to work, his friends in show business staged a fundraiser on his behalf,[3] however Steppe died in poverty. Pulmonary edema contributed to Steppe's death, according to his death certificate. He was at Bellevue Hospital in New York, New York for two days and had been ill for a month,[47] according to a story in Variety magazine, Nov. 27, 1934. He is buried in New Jersey.

Stage productions[edit]

Here is an ever-expanding table of documented theatrical productions.

Year Month City & State Theater Show Title Players & Notables Media Coverage
1911 Apr Majestic Theater The Two Strollers
Musical Comedy
Harry Steppe
Toney Murphy
Smuckler Sisters
Portsmouth Daily Times[48]
May   Kenyon Theater Loveland Harry Steppe (as Ignatz Cohen)
Ben Masten
Jack Daily
Leona Thompson, singer
Berti Wyatt, dancer
Gertie Fay, dancer
Pittsburgh Press[7]
1912 Apr Marion, OH Sun Theater Girl from Daffydill Harry Steppe (as Ignatz Cohen) Marion Daily Star[43]
    Olympic Girls from the Follies  
1913 Sep     Girls from the Follies   Indianapolis Star[49]
Sep Kansas City, MO   Girls from the Follies   Kansas City Star, The[50]
Oct Chicago, IL   Girls from the Follies   Suburbanite Economist[37]
Nov Boston, MA Howard Athenaeum Girls from the Follies   Boston Globe[51]
Cleveland, OH Empire Girls from the Follies  
1914 Jan Pittsburgh, PA Victoria Girls from the Follies   Pittsburgh Press[14]
Mar Toronto, ON Canada Star Theater Girls from the Follies   Toronto Sunday World[36]
Apr Boston, MA Howard Athenaeum     Boston Daily Globe[52]
May Hartford, CT Poli Palace Theater
Main and Gold Streets
Those Kissing Girls
Musical Comedy
Hartford Courant[6]
Jun   St. James Kissing Girls Harry Steppe
Oscar Lorraine, violinist
Ed and Jack Smith, dancers
Boston Evening Transcript[53]
Aug   Murray Hill Theatre Girls from the Follies Harry Steppe
Charles Quinn
Vesta Lockard
Gertrude Balston
Forrest G. Wyre
Jessie Quinn
Annie Goldie
Marie Revere
Harry Fisher
William Harris
New York Times[54]
Sep Pittsburgh, PA Victoria Girls from the Follies Harry Steppe
Charles Quinn
Vesta Lockard
Gertrude Balston
Forrest G. Wyre
Jessie Quinn
Annie Goldie
Marie Revere
Harry Fisher
William Harris
Pittsburgh Press[30]
Nov Boston, MA Howard Athenaeum Girls from the Follies   Boston Daily Globe[55][56]
Baltimore, MD Gayety Girls from the Follies  
1915 Jan Toronto Star Theater Girls from the Follies
Two-act Musical Farce
Harry Steppe
Vesta Lockard
Gertude Walston
Mabel Reflow
George L. Wagner
William M. Harris
Billy Moore
Harry Fisher
Solly Hito
Dan Pierce, Star Theater Manager
Toronto World[11][57]
March Indianapolis, IN   Girls from the Follies Harry Steppe Indianapolis Star[58]
May   Victoria Girls from the Follies Harry Steppe
Vesta Lockhard
Gertude Ralston
Mabel Reflow, dancer
George L. Wagner
William M. Harris
Harry Van
Harry Fisher
Solly Hito, dancer
Pittsburgh Press[59]
Sep Pittsburgh, PA Victoria Lady Pirates   Pittsburgh Press[30]
Oct Trenton, NJ     Trenton Evening Times[60]
Cleveland, OH Bijou    
Louisville, KY Buckingham Girls from the Follies  
Detroit, MI Cadillac Girls from the Follies  
Detroit, MI Cadillac Lady Pirates  
Philadelphia, PA Casino Girls from the Follies  
Rochester, NY Corinthian Girls from the Follies  
Ft. Wayne, IN Majestic Girls from the Follies  
Pittsburgh, PA Victoria Girls from the Follies  
Pittsburgh, PA Victoria Keeny's Harry Steppe & George Martin  
1916 Jan Ft. Wayne, IN Girls from the Follies   Ft Wayne Daily News[61]
Jan Ft. Wayne, IN   Cohen in Chinatown
Two-act musical comedy
  Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette[62]
  Philadelphia, PA Cabaret Girls from the Follies  
  St. Louis, MO Standard Girls from the Follies  
  Louisville, KY Buckingham Girls from the Follies
Cohen on the East Side
Two-act musical burlesque
  Reedy's Mirror[17]
  Newark, NJ Loews Harry Steppe at the Loews  
    Loews Step Lively Girls  
  Louisville, KY Buckingham Girls from the Follies  
  Cleveland, OH Empire Cohen's Review  
  Philadelphia, PA Trocadero Follies  
  Milwaukee, WI Gayety    
1917 Jan Trenton, NJ Hello Girls   Trenton Evening Times[63]
Feb Brooklyn, NY Howard Athenaeum     Boston Daily Globe[64]
Brooklyn, NY Star    
1918 Aug Philadelphia, PA Gayety
5th below Vine
Razzle Dazzle Girls Harry Steppe
Grace Fletcher
Evening Public Ledger[65]
Oct   Star Theater Razzle Dazzle of 1918 Harry Steppe
Bunnie Mack, comedian
Grace Fletcher, soubrette
Percie Judah
Mike Fertig, singer
Sydia Dunn, singer
Palmer Hines, straight man
Toronto World[66]
1919 Jan Pittsburgh, PA Victoria Razzle Dazzle of 1919 Harry Steppe
Lew Denny
Mike Fertig, singer
Billy Halperin
Percie Judah
Sydia Dunn, singer
Grace Fletcher
Pittsburgh Press[67]
Feb Washington, DC Razzle Dazzle Harry Steppe
Grace Fletcher
Washington Post[68]
Mar Trenton, NJ Razzle Dazzle  
Columbus, OH Lyceum Razzle Dazzle  
  Peoples Theatre American Supreme  
1920 Columbus, OH   Razzle Dazzle of 1919  
    Tid Bits of 1920  
  Buckingham Misfit Cohen  
  Gayety Harry Steppe and His Rumba Girls  
1921 Jun New York, NY Loew's Metropolitan   Harry Steppe, headliner
Dick Lancaster
New York Tribune[8]
Jun New York, NY Loew's American   Harry Steppe, headliner
Chappelle and Stinnett
New York Tribune[8]
Sep New York, NY Columbia
Broadway & 47th St.
Jingle Jingle Harry Steppe
Harry O'Neal
New York Times[69]
  Washington, DC     Harry Steppe
Harry O'Neal
Frank Anderson
Washington Post[70]
1923 Apr Los Angeles, CA Hillstreet Just a Debate Harry Steppe
Harry O'Neal
Los Angeles Times[71]
  New York, NY Columbia Playhouse    
1924 Sep   Gayety Theater Columbia Burlesque Harry Steppe and His Big Show Harry Steppe
Harry O'Neal
Vic Casmore
Solly Hito, dancer
Mabel Reflow, dancer
Canadian Jewish Chronicle[41]
The Axe (Montreal)[72][73]
Nov Bridgeport, CT Harry Steppe and His Big Show   Bridgeport Telegram[74]
Dec   Gayety Harry Steppe
Dorothy Golden, dancer
Pittsburgh Press[75]
1925 Jan   Gayety Theater Columbia Burlesque Harry Steppe and His Big Show Harry Steppe
Harry O'Neal
Mabel Reflow
Lola Pierce
Pittsburgh Press[76]
March   Harry Steppe and His Big Show Harry Steppe
Harry O'Neal
Chicago Tribune[77]
Apr Empire Theater
Temperance Street
Columbia Burlesque
(Columbia Circuit)
Cain and Davenport present
Harry Steppe and His Big Show
Week of April 13
Harry Steppe
Harry O'Neal
Vic Casmore
Hite and (Mabel) Reflow, singer
George McClennon, comedian
Canadian Jewish Review[42]
May New York, NY Columbia Theater
Times Square
(Columbia Circuit)
O.K. Harry Steppe
Harry O'Neal
Mabel Reflow, singer
Lola Pierce, singer
George McClennon, dancer
Miller and Ryan, dancers
Three Golfers, acrobats
Solly Hito, juvenile
and a whistler
New York Times[78]
Aug (New) Lyric Theater O.K.
Harry Steppe
George McClennon
Owen Martin, straight man
Vic Casmore
Mabel Reflow, singer
Bridgeport Telegraph[18]
Sep   Gayety Harry Steppe and His Big Show Harry Steppe
Vic Casmore
Pittsburgh Press[79]
Oct Cleveland, OH Columbia Steppe's Own Show Harry Steppe
George McClennon
Oct Zanesville, OH Weller
Columbia Circuit
Harry Steppe and His Big Show Harry Steppe
Owen Martin, straight man
George McClennon, jazz clarinetist
Jacque Wilson, blues singer
Carmen Sisters, dancers
Rube Walman, whistler
Zanesville Times Signal[80]
Zanesville Signal[81]
Zanesville Times Signal[82]
1926 Apr Boston, MA Casino Theater
(Columbia Circuit)
Steppe's Own Show   Afro-American[19]
June New York, NY   The Lemon Bit   New York Times[83]
  Boston, MA Gaiety Theater Harry Steppe's OK   Gaiety Theater Study Report[44]
1927 Jul Milwaukee, WI Majestic Theatre The Debate Harry Steppe
Lola Pierce
Milwaukee Sentinel[9]
Oct Atlanta, GA The Supper Club
The Debate
Harry Steppe
Lola Pierce
Atlanta Constitution[45]
1928 Feb Decatur, Illinois   Matrimony à la Carte with Lola Pierce  
June New York, NY Loew's Theater     Loew's Weekly [35]
1929 Sep Gayety Harry Steppe and His Own Big Show   Canadian Jewish Review[84]
Dec Washington, DC 9th Street Harry Steppe and His Show   Washington Post[85]
Dec Pittsburgh, PA Academy Theater Harry Steppe and His Show
Monte Carlo
Fortune Hunters
Harry Steppe
Betty and Bud Abbott
Billie Holmes, blues singer
Frances Knight, ingenue
Rube Walman
Lee Baird, second comedian
Gertie Foreman
Jerry DeVere
Pittsburgh Press[25]
1930 Sep   Orpheum Theatre Harry Steppe and His Show   Reading Eagle[20][86]
Oct Pittsburgh, PA Academy Theater Harry Steppe and His Big Show Harry Steppe
Jeanne Steele, jazz singer
Ann Clair, ingenue
Lloyd and Ardell
Wilbur Dobbs, comedian
George Raymond, baritone
Dixon and Morrell, sister act
Pittsburgh Press[46]
1931 Mar   Orpheum Theater
(Mutual Circuit)
Fashion Parade Harry Steppe
Sonny Kest, ingenue
Lee Hickman
Dorothy Alexander
Reading Eagle[21]
Oct Pittsburgh, PA Academy Theater
(Columbia Circuit)
Rumba Girls Harry Steppe
Jerri McCauley
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette[87]
1933 Apr   Ritz   Harry Steppe
Max Furman
Lew Patel
Eddie Dale
Harry Burns
Olsen and Johnson
Syracuse Herald[88]
Nov Hartford, CT Parsons Theater Harry Steppe
Eddie Lloyd, comedian
Lew Denny, straight man
Hartford Courant[89]
1934 Sep   Variety Red Hot Harry Steppe
Joe DeRita
Happy Hyatt
Abe Sher
Al Golden, director
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette[90]
Pittsburgh Press[91]


  1. ^ a b c d World War I Draft Registration Card 1917-1918, retrieved from Ancestry.com. Notes: Lists his occupation as Actor, employed by the Gaeyty Theater in Chicago, Illinois.
  2. ^ Abe Stepner's obituary, "Feature News," Billboard magazine, Dec. 1, 1934, pg 5.
  3. ^ a b The American Burlesque Show, by Irving Zeidman, Hawthorn Books, 1967. Excerpts: "The chief comic effects by Harry Steppe, it was noted, consisted in hitting other characters across the face with celery stalks. (Page 96)" "The most prominent of the later "Hebe" comics was Harry Steppe, who, ill and destitute in 1935, was the beneficiary of the Harry Steppe Fund, to which many famous stage personalities contributed. (Page 102)" "Harry Steppe had to be the recipient of a public benefit. (Page 215)"
  4. ^ "Variety Opener Has Cast of 40: Red Hot Gets Under Way Sunday Night," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Newspaper), Aug 25, 1934, pg.78. Excerpt:"...Joe DeRita and Harry Steppe, one of the few remaining old-time Jewish comedians in burlesque, lead the contingent of funmakers."
  5. ^ Image of actor Harry Steppe, Billy Rose Theatre Collection photograph file, on file with The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: Billy Rose Theatre Division
  6. ^ a b c "New Theater Opens Tomorrow: Vaudeville and Photoplays at Poli Palace," Hartford Courant, May 24, 1914. Excerpt: "the magnificent new Poli Palace Theater, at the corner of Main and Gold ... entitled "Tho Kissing Girls," presented by Harry Steppe, whose numerous ..."
  7. ^ a b Pittsburgh Press, Theatrical Section, May 28, 1911, page 2. Excerpt: "The opening attraction will be Harry Steppe in a musical cocktail 'Loveland.' Mr. Steppe as Ignatz..."
  8. ^ a b c Shadows on the Screen, New York Tribune (New York, N.Y.), Sunday, June 19, 1921, Pg. 2. Excerpt: "Loew's American - Harry Steppe, and Chappelle and Stinnett are the headliners for the last half..." Note: This page has two news items and a display ad about this performance.
  9. ^ a b "Harry Steppe and Lola Pierce at the Majestic," Sunday Sentinel and Milwaukee Sentinel, 24 Jul 1927, Page 8, Section 6. Excerpt: "Harry Steppe and Lola Pierce have been accorded headline honor in the new seven-act bill at the Majestic theater beginning today." Retrieved: February 10, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Theatre Magazine, edited by Arthur Hornblow, Stewart Beach, W. J. Thorold, et al., 1930, v.51-52, pg. 36. Excerpt: "In fact, Harry Steppe, one of the leading burlesque comedians, remarked to me the other day that there is more to be seen on the streets today than there..."
  11. ^ a b c "Theaters: Girls from the Follies Headed by Steppe," Toronto World, Jan 26, 1915, Page 3. Excerpt: "With a line of Vaudeville acts that are high class thruout, and two burlettas that are of the side-splitting variety, the Girls From the Follies headed by Harry Steppe, opened a week's engagement..."
  12. ^ a b c "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood," by Bob Furmanek and Ron Palumbo, 1991, Page 18. Excerpt: "Bud was now working with comedian Harry Steppe, who originated the famous 'Lemon Bit'...It was the 'Lemon Bit' that Bud had done with Harry Steppe. When Bud and Lou crossed paths in burlesque in the mid-1930s, Bud staged the routine for Lou. After the boys teamed up, they reprised the 'Lemon Bit'..."
  13. ^ Bloom, Ken. American Song: The Complete Musical Theatre Companion, Vol. 1: A-S. Second Edition. Schirmer Books, 1996, Pg. 203. ISBN 0-02-864573-1 Notes: Citation for J.B. Earley, Composer and Harry Steppe, Librettist. Songs: Blinky Winky Chinatown; Girls from the Follies, He's My Kiddo, I'm the Broadway Kid; Joyous Love; Let's Sing, Sing, Sing; Love me or Leave Me Alone; My Southern Queen.
  14. ^ a b c Pittsburgh Press, Jan 6, 1914, Section: Theatrical, page 7. Excerpt: "Figuring as producer, joint author, principal comedian...Harry Steppe, a Pittsburger"
  15. ^ a b "Burlesque Routes," Afro-American, Oct 24, 1925, Page 5.
  16. ^ "Old Actors Attend Dave Marion Rites; Former Associates in World of Burlesque Pay Tribute to 'Snuffy the Cabman', New York Times, September 19, 1934, Page 20. Excerpt: "More than 200 old-time burlesque players and theatre associates gathered yesterday in Campbell's Funeral Parlor, Broadway and Sixty-sixth Street, at a funeral service for Dave Marion, the comedian...(attendees included) Dave Altman, Agnes Buckley, William H. Leyden, William Armstrong, Bob Travers, Inez DiVider, Biff Clark, Sam Dawson, Nalter McManus and Harry Steppe"
  17. ^ a b Reedy's Mirror. St. Louis, Mo. Vol. 25, 1916, pg. 204. William Marion Reedy, Editor and Proprietor. Excerpt: "The Girls from the Follies" With Harry Steppe in the Two-Act Musical Burlesque "Cohen on the East Side."
  18. ^ a b c "Amusements," Bridgeport Telegraph, August 25, 1925, Page 7. Excerpt: "Direct from its New York run...last season at the Columbia Theater on Broadway."
  19. ^ a b "Routings: Week April 5," Afro-American: the South's Biggest and Best Weekly, Theatrical Section, Apr 10, 1926, Page 4.
  20. ^ a b c "In the City's Playhouses: Harry Steppe - Orpheum" Reading Eagle, Sep 27, 1930, page 14. Excerpt: "That irresistible comedian, Harry Steppe, will hold forth at the Orpheum Theatre for the last time tonight, appearing at the head of his own one that is ...
  21. ^ a b "Fashion Parade at Orpheum Burlesque," Reading Eagle, Mar 22, 1931, Section: Theaters and Their Attractions, Page 8. Excerpt: "Heading the cast are Harry Steppe, comic, and Sonny Kest, a pretty and talented ingenue soubrette."
  22. ^ "Lou's on First: The Tragic Life of Hollywood's Greatest Clown Warmly Recounted by His Youngest Child," by Chris Costello, St. Martin's Griffin, 1982, pg.23. ISBN 0-312-49914-0. Excerpt: "Backstage between shows Bud would do skits with Dad (Lou) that he had done with Harry Steppe -- a very clever Jewish comedian who was the creator of the famous "Lemon Bit," which was to be so successful for Bud and Dad (Lou) as a team."
  23. ^ Seguine, Brent. "Slowly I Turned / Niagara Falls / Pokomoko", Abbott & Costello January 2017 Newsletter. Abbott & Costello Collectibles, Jan. 2017. Web. 05 July 2017. Excerpt: "Steppe was also an early stage partner for Bud Abbott, and is among the names mentioned as bringing Bud and Lou together in 1935 before their initial team-up in 1936."
  24. ^ American national biography, Volume 1, edited by John Arthur Garraty, Mark Christopher Carnes, American Council of Learned Societies, Oxford University Press, 1999, Page 18. Excerpt: (Costello played) "opposite a variety of comics, including Harry Steppe..."
  25. ^ a b c d "Speaking of the Local Theaters," The Pittsburgh Press, Dec 17, 1929, page 47. Excerpt: "Harry Steppe...at the Academy in his own show...There's a...chorus with Bud and Betty Abbott..."
  26. ^ International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers - Volume IV - Actors and Actresses, by Christopher Lyon, St. James Press, 1987, ISBN 0-912289-08-2, Page 7. Excerpt: "...while manager at the National Theater in Detroit, Abbott worked Vaudeville as straight man to such performers as Harry Steppe and Harry Evanson."
  27. ^ Port of New York Passenger Record Search, Ellis Island Foundation. Retrieved: 16 Jan 2008.
  28. ^ a b New York Petitions for Naturalization Index 1792-1906 and 1907-1989
  29. ^ a b c Twelfth Census of the United States: New Jersey, Schedule I - Population, Year 1900. Retrieved March 20, 2010 from HeritageQuest Online.
  30. ^ a b c d "Theatrical," Pittsburgh Press, Sep 15, 1914, page 20. Excerpt: "Harry Steppe, a Pittsburg boy, is the star of the company, and as Ignatz Cohen, a stowaway on a pirate ship, had plenty of opportunity to display his funmaking abilities."
  31. ^ "News of the Theater," The Pittsburgh Press, May 2, 1915, Page 41.
  32. ^ Thomas, Bob. Bud & Lou: the Abbott & Costello story. 1977. Page. 33 & 37. Excerpt: "Bud joined with Harry Steppe, a funny Jewish comic but one subject to spells of melancholia."
  33. ^ Photo of Harry Steppe and his wife Vic Dayton (Cover), The New York Clipper: The National Theatrical Weekly, December 1, 1920.
  34. ^ Dramatic Index for 1920 (Volumes I and II), Periodical Index, edited by Anne C. Sutherland, Frederick Winthrop Faxon, Mary Estella Bates, Published 1921, F.W. Faxon Co., Boston, MA. Excerpt: "Steppe, Harry, actor. Portrait (with Vic Dayton). NY Clipper 68: DI, '20, 1. Steppe, Mrs. Harry. See Dayton, Vic."
  35. ^ a b Loew's Weekly (free program for theater patrons), June 18, 1928. Notes: Harry Steppe was billed with actress Lola Pierce.
  36. ^ a b "The Stage," Toronto Sunday World, Mar 15, 1914, page 29.
  37. ^ a b Suburbanite Economist, Chicago, Illinois, Friday, October 3, 1913. Excerpt: "Following the baseball games the regular performance of the Girls From the Follies company will take Harry Steppe...The Hebrew who is the star of the company."
  38. ^ "Burlesque Season On; The Columbia and the Murray Hill Are at It Again," The New York Times, Section: Summer Resorts, Sunday, August 16, 1914, pg. X7. Excerpt: "The Murray Hill Theater opened last night with a brand-new burlesque show called "The Girls from the Follies," and this attraction will be continued through the present week. A large company of entertainers, headed by Harry Steppe, a Hebrew comedian of more than ordinary ability, succeeds in keeping the spectators in a happy frame of mind throughout the performance."
  39. ^ "About:Bananas," by John Wilcock. New York Times, March 30, 1958, Page SM53.
  40. ^ "Bananas: An American History," by Virginia Scott Jenkins, Page 150. Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000. Excerpt: "The term "top banana" was introduced into show business jargon by burlesque comedian Harry Steppe in 1927 as a synonym for the top comic on the bill."
  41. ^ a b "Harry Steppe and His Big Show," Canadian Jewish Chronicle, September 5, 1924. Excerpt: "Fun for the whole family. Week commencing Sun. eve. September 7."
  42. ^ a b Canadian Jewish Review, April 10, 1925, Page. 26
  43. ^ a b Marion Daily Star, April 1, 1912, Page 9.
  44. ^ a b c "Gaiety Theater Study Report," Boston Landmarks Commission Environment Department, City of Boston, March 13, 2003, Page 47; Gaiety Theater, 659-665 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts. Retrieved: March 11, 2010.
  45. ^ a b "Comedy Skits Headliners on Keith Bill," Atlanta Constitution (Newspaper), Oct 25, 1927. Excerpt: "Two clever comedy skits, "The Supper Club" and "The Debate," forming virtually a double headline attraction, and featuring Harry Steppe and Lola Pierce..."
  46. ^ a b "New Ulric Drama And 'Chic' Sale In Musical Play...: Harry Steppe's Show," The Pittsburgh Press, Oct 11, 1930, page 42. Excerpt: "...sponsored and presented under the auspices of the Mutual Burlesque Association."
  47. ^ "Stage and Screen," by Harold W. Cohen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Newspaper), Oct 17, 1934. Excerpt: "Harry Steppe, burlesque comedian...was taken to the Mountain Sinai Hospital in New York the other day for observation."
  48. ^ "Reports of the Wily Press Agent," Portsmouth Daily Times, Theatrical Section, April 1, 1911, Page 12. Excerpt: "Harry Steppe and Toney Murphy, two well-known comedians, and the famous sister team of Smucklers, will be in the cast."
  49. ^ Indianapolis Star, September 7, 1913
  50. ^ Kansas City Star, Kansas City, MO. Thursday, September 25, 1913. Excerpt: "Harry Steppe in Girls from the Follies."
  51. ^ Boston Globe, Nov 25, 1913, Page 3.
  52. ^ Boston Daily Globe, Apr 14, 1914, Page 13.
  53. ^ "Music and Drama," Boston Evening Transcript, Jun 9, 1914, Page 14.
  54. ^ "How Playhouses Vanquish Summer: Burlesque Houses Open," By Constance Collier, New York Times, August 9, 1914, Page X6. Excerpt: "The Murray Hill Theatre will reopen Saturday night with a new burlesque show called 'The Girls from the Follies,' of which Harry Steppe is the principal comedian."
  55. ^ Boston Daily Globe, Nov 24, 1914. Excerpt: "Harry Steppe and the Girls From the Follies Company Appear in a Merry Burlesque Show. Harry Steppe and his comical donkey made an extremely amusing duo."
  56. ^ Boston Daily Globe, Nov 29, 1914, Page 35.
  57. ^ "Girls from the Follies," Toronto World, Section: News of Special Interest to Women: Theaters, Jan 21, 1915, Page 4. Retrieved: March 21, 2010.
  58. ^ Indianapolis Star.
  59. ^ "News of the Theater," Pittsburgh Press, May 2, 1915, page 41.
  60. ^ Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, October 2, 1915. Excerpt: "The comical Harry Steppe and the breezy girls."
  61. ^ "Here Comes the Hello Girls - Harry Steppe and Company at the Majestic Tomorrow," Fort Wayne Daily News (Newspaper), Oct. 7, 1916, Page 4.
  62. ^ Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette, Jan 27, 1916. Excerpt: "...laugh producer Harry Steppe, the Hebrew who is the star of the company."
  63. ^ Trenton Evening Times, Jan 27, 1917.
  64. ^ Boston Daily Globe, Feb 13, 1917, Page 7.
  65. ^ Razzle Dazzle Girls, Evening Public Ledger, August 17, 1918, Night Extra, Image 5, Pg. 5.
  66. ^ "Fine Scenic Effects in Big Star Show," Toronto World, Oct 1, 1918, Page 7. Excerpt: "In fact, the show cannot be accurately called burlesque, it is more of a high-class musical comedy."
  67. ^ "Gossip of the Theaters," The Pittsburgh Press, Jan 14, 1919, page 32. Excerpt: "Prominent among the entertainers are Harry Steppe, a comedian of ability..."
  68. ^ Washington Post, Feb 2, 1919
  69. ^ Display Ad #173, New York Times, September 4, 1921, Page 52
  70. ^ Washington Post, December 25, 1921.
  71. ^ "Cansinos Head Variety Bill at Hillstreet," Los Angeles Times, Apr 17, 1923, Page II11. Excerpt: "They succeed in raising a big rumpus over nothing, ending just about where they started, but it is all in the interest of art..."
  72. ^ "The Two Harrys, Steppe and O'Neal, Create Tornado of Laughter at Gayety," The Axe (Montreal), September 9, 1924, Page 6.
  73. ^ "The Prime Minister of Mirth", Photo of Harry Steppe, The Axe (Montreal), September 9, 1924, Front Page.
  74. ^ "Harry Steppe and His Big Show," Bridgeport Telegram (Newspaper), November 28, 1924.
  75. ^ "Theatrical Notes," Pittsburgh Press, Dec 31, 1924, page 15.
  76. ^ Pittsburgh Press, Jan 4, 1925
  77. ^ Chicago Tribune, March 24, 1925, pg. 27 (Display Ad)
  78. ^ "O.K. at the Columbia: Attractive Burlesque with Harry Steppe Opens the Summer Season," New York Times, May 4, 1925, Page 16.
  79. ^ "Theatrical Notes," Pittsburgh Press,Sep 29, 1925
  80. ^ "Harry Steppe and His Big Show," Zanesville Times Signal (Newspaper), October 18, 1925.
  81. ^ "Stage is All Draped...: Harry Steppe Comes in Big Burlesque Unit," Zanesville Signal, October 12, 1925, Page 11.
  82. ^ "Harry Steppe and Frisco Steppers Coming This Week," Zanesville Times Signal (Zanesville, Ohio), Sunday, October 11, 1925, Page 25.
  83. ^ "Art Theatres Form an Advisory Board," New York Times (Newspaper), Jun 7, 1926. Excerpt: "and there was a surprise specialty, "The Lemon Bit as It Has Been Done For Years," in which Harry Steppe and others appear..."
  84. ^ Display Ad, "Harry Steppe and His Own Big Show" Canadian Jewish Review (Newspaper), Sep 9, 1929, Pg. 4
  85. ^ "Harry Steppe and His Show on Ninth Street." Washington Post (Newspaper), Dec 8, 1929 Section: Amusements
  86. ^ "Steppe Show, Orpheum," Reading Eagle (newspaper), Sunday, Sep 24, 1930, pg. 18. Excerpt: "As long as mutual burlesque and vaudeville is fortunate enough to include among its attractions such an eminent character impersonator as Harry Steppe…there will always be a hearty welcome awaiting at the Orpheum Theatre, where Thursday matinée and night "Harry Steppe and His Big Show will begin an engagement."
  87. ^ "Coming to the Theaters: Rumba Girls at Academy - Harry Steppe Brings a Laugh Show to Town." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Newspaper), Oct 13, 1932, pg. 10 Section: Happenings of the Stage and Screen. Excerpt: Freshly written material gives Steppe, popular Yiddish character comic..."
  88. ^ "Ritz in Review," Syracuse Herald, April 2, 1933, Second Section, Page 6. Excerpt: "The comedy contingent is again headed by Harry Steppe..."
  89. ^ "Peaches' Browning Heads Current Show At Parsons's Theater," Hartford Courant, Nov 26, 1933. Excerpt: "Other featured players include...Harry Steppe and Eddie Lloyd, comedians; Lew Denny, straight man..."
  90. ^ Variety Opener has Cast of 40, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 29, 1934, Page 8. Retrieved: March 21, 2010.
  91. ^ "Packed Audiences See Variety Show," Pittsburgh Press, Sep 4, 1934, page 18.


  • "Really The Blues," by Mezz Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe, Citadel Press (Trade Paper), 1990, pg.27. ISBN 0-8065-1205-9. Excerpt: "You could see most of the celebrities of the day, colored and white, hanging around the De Luxe. Bill Robinson, the burlesque comedian Harry Steppe, comedian Benny Davis, Joe Frisco, Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, Blossom Seeley, a lot of Ziegfeld Follies actors..."
  • American song: the complete musical theatre companion, by Ken Bloom, 1985, Page 130

External links[edit]

  • Bananas in Entertainment, cites Harry as originator of "Top Banana." Citation derived from newspapers and playbills in the Harvard Theater Collection.