“Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal! Send me a kiss by wire, baby my heart's on fire!”
Vaudeville is, or rather was, a small city in southern California located somewhere between Hollywood and Los Angeles. This city was founded in 1882 by Hermann von Vaude, a plumber and ventriloquist. Many actors and celebrities made their homes here, mostly because the cost of living was a hell of a lot cheaper than other nearby cities and nobody wanted to commute from New Jersey. Some actors also became quite popular on the local theater circuit.
Von Vaude built his very first house in Vaudeville (which was originally known as "that little patch of space over there") on a very tight budget. Soon after, he established a rather lucrative real estate business, selling affordable housing to anyone who could afford it, which was just about everybody. Many struggling actors, comedians, and chiropractors came from miles around to make a life for themselves in this small city.
The theater district initially became famous because of a singing frog, which would only sing for one person at a time, for no apparent reason. Many people, including one or two from outside Vaudeville, would come to the frog "just in case" he felt like singing.
Noticing that the public would be willing to pay to see just about anything, many actors started their own... well... acts, and honing their craft nightly on the stage. Many became very adept at singing, dancing, and bobbing for apples, in the hopes that one day a famous Hollywood agent would spot them and take them away from all this.
During the town's existence, some residents became famous, but only a few have endured throughout the years (and even fewer were exported to Hollywood). Those who have continued on elsewhere include:
Decline, fall, and ultimate death
With the appearance of "talkies," nobody wanted to go to the live theater anymore. People liked going to a place where the floor was covered with sticky candy, soda, and popcorn and getting the sticky mixture on the bottom of their shoes. Staring at a huge screen in the dark was the cool thing to do. The local theaters fell on hard times, and not even the singing frog could attract attention.
Eventually, the town was swallowed up by Godzilla, forcing all the residents to scatter all across the state, with many of them reconvening to nearby Hollywood in later years. The theater district was no more, however the theater owners, hell bent on putting a show on somewhere, wished to re-establish the craft of live theater, even if it meant moving elsewhere. To avoid paying for California earthquake insurance, they all packed up and moved to Broadway, which has been regarded as a wise move, according to Phil Collins.
The town may no longer exist, but that won't stop guys on the corner of Hollywood and Vine from selling you a $7 map of Vaudeville. You're better off keeping your money in your wallet, but there are some people who get sucked in anyway. After they drive into the La Brea Tar Pits, they know they've been had. Still, if you look hard, you might be able to find one or two of the old buildings still standing (the ones that gave Godzilla heartburn).
- La Brea Tar Pits – click here, save $7