Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving 1922

[“Vaudeville on Island: Keith Artists to Give Thanksgiving Program on Blackwell’s.” The New York Times, November 30, 1922.]

Yes, November 30: the next-to-last Thursday of the month wouldn’t become Thanksgiving Day until 1939.

It’s not clear what population these vaudevillians were entertaining: at various times asylum, hospital, and prison populations were all housed on Blackwell’s Island, or Welfare Island, as it had already been renamed in 1921. Given a Times report on Thanksgiving 1914 at Blackwell’s, I suspect that the audience was a prison population.

I recognize two of the names here: Eddie Foy, whom I know only as a name, and “Demarest,” as in William Demarest, Uncle Charley from My Three Sons, who perfomed in vaudeville with his wife Estelle Collette (real name Esther Zychlin).

On this same Thanksgiving, the great tenor Beniamino Gigli sang at Sing Sing. The inmates had already been visited by vaudevillians on November 26th. From the Times: “Sing Sing has not had a grand opera entertainment since the San Carlo Opera Company was there a year ago” (“Grand Opera for Convicts at Sing Sing Thanksgiving,” November 27, 1922.)

And if you’ve never heard Gigli, here’s “M’apparì” (1923). And another rendition, thirty years later.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Related Thanksgiving posts
Blackwell’s Island, 1914 : Sing Sing, 1907 : Sing Sing, 1908

comments: 3

Fresca said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Michael, to you and Elaine!
Are you having sardines, roasted and stuffed?

Michael Leddy said...

Today we’ll honor all small oily fish by letting them rest in their oceans (or cans).

Michael Leddy said...

Oh — thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving back. The prospect of stuffed sardines addled my brain.