The Banana Man

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The Banana Man was a vaudeville character created by Adolf Proper (November 27, 1886–December 17, 1950[1]) who worked under the stage name "A. Robins".

The Banana Man (BZ) act consisted of Proper, dressed as a clownish character in a baggy tuxedo, producing an amazing and apparently impossible number of props from countless pockets and secret places in his costume. He would then perform various clown routines with the props. These props included (among many other things) a clarinet, a mandolin, a huge magnet, a violin, a music stand, several watermelons, and three hundred bananas. He did not speak in words, but uttered cries of delight, surprise, etc., in a nasal falsetto, and imitated the sounds of the musical instruments he "played." His costume was also capable of quick transformation, converting to a woman's dress and back again in seconds. A profile of Proper in The New Yorker reported that the costume weighed 60 pounds loaded, and it took him 45 minutes to prepare it for each performance.[2] Proper performed as The Banana Man in the Broadway musical Jumbo, in the short film Seeing Red starring Red Skelton, and in the 1947 feature film Mother Wore Tights starring Betty Grable.

Sam Levine (May 15, 1881–November 13, 1974) bought Proper's original props and gimmicks from Proper's estate, and performed as The Banana Man on Captain Kangaroo and The Ed Sullivan Show.


  1. ^ "A. Robins" page 1 November 2010 Note: states that Proper died in White Plains, New York
  2. ^ "The Talk of the Town: A Is For Adolph" The New Yorker 14 December 1935 1 November 2010

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