"evocatively written by Greg Palmer… two hours of blissful nostalgia. You could also consider it the best variety special of the year."

People Magazine, Best of the Tube for 1997

Vaudeville: An American Masters Special



First broadcast on PBS in November 1997
Co-production of KCTS Television, Palmer/Fenster, Inc. and Thirteen/WNET
Executive Producers Gary Gibson and Susan Lacy
Conceived, written and directed by Greg Palmer
Produced by Rosemary Garner
Associate Producers: Shannon Gee, Sue McLaughlin, Leslie Rugaber, Martha Reynolds
From 1890 to 1920, more people went to vaudeville shows than to all other forms of entertainment combined. And yet this medium, one that so affected the entertainment forms that followed--up to, and including, television--had never before been presented on television. When Vaudeville finally aired, in November 1997 on PBS, it attracted the second-highest ratings in the eleven-year history of the American Masters series--apt testimony to the durability of this most popular and influential live entertainment medium in American history. People Magazine called it "the best variety special of the year."

In only two hours, the program features eighty-some acts, including big stars (George Burns & Gracie Allen, Bob Hope, Jimmy Cagney, Bert Williams, W.C. Fields, among others) and once renowned headliners (Trixie Friganza, Pigmeat Markham, Frank Fay). Hilarious oddities--a singing duck and a professional regurgitator--appear, as do the memories of performers and fans: Morey Amsterdam, Rose Marie, Joey Faye, June Havoc, The Nicholas Brothers, Studs Terkel and New Yorker theater critic John Lahr.

All acts and interviewees in order of appearance