Weber, Joe & Fields, Lew

1908 signatures of one of the greatest late 19th-early 20th century comedy teams

Price: $65.00

Description:
JOE WEBER (1867-1942) and LEW FIELDS (1867-1941, b. Moses Schoenfeld), Polish-Jewish born vaudevillians who formed the comedy team of Weber and Fields. They formed their partnership while children, appearing at Bowery saloons, museums, circuses, and in 1885 made their 1st stage appearance at Miner's Bowery Theater, New York. They had a "Dutch act" in which both portrayed German immigrants, their comedy coming from the actors' mangling of the English language and dropping of malapropisms as they undertook life in America. "Mike and Meyer" as their characters were known, utilized stereotypical dress and accents in portraying their characters' attempts to fit into American society. "Crafty schemes" of "making it big", as well as attempts of mere survival of immigrant poverty in America, were written into their acts. A typical routine involved Mike, the short and clever one, unsuccessfully trying to coach Meyer, the tall and simple one, in a scheme to get them a free lunch at a working-class saloon. Some of their routines were Pousse Cafe, Hurly Burly, Whirl-I-Gig, Fiddle-Dee-Dee, Hoity-Toity, Twirly Whirly, and Whoop-de-Doo. Their slapstick, rough-house, English-garbling antics caught on and they were a sensation in San Francisco appearing for 10 weeks @ $250/week, a very high salary at the time. They returned to New York and in 1894 made their Broadway debut at Hammerstein's Olympia. They had 3 road companies and in 1895, opened the Weber and Fields Broadway Music Hall where they produced very successful burlesques of popular Broadway shows. In their casts were some of the greatest performers and comics on the American stage then, including Lillian Russell, Fay Templeton, DeWolf Hopper, and David Warfield. They had to close the Broadway Music Hall when the fire at the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago caused strict enforcement of New York fire laws. They had to remodel or close the Music Hall which caused a disagreement resulting in splitting their partnership in 1904. Weber took over operations at the music hall and Fields went on to produce many musicals. When Fields starred in the 1911 stage comedy, The Hen-Pecksa, a supporting comedian in the cast was future ballroom dancing great Vernon Castle. In 1921, Fred Allen toured with Fields, the orchestra conducted by 19-year-old Richard Rodgers. In 1912, they reunited and produced Hokey Pokey which was unsuccessful. In 1923, they reunited for a short film made by Lee DeForest in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process, recreating their famous pool hall routine, opening at NYC's Rivoli Theater on Apr. 15, 1923. Weber and Fields reunited for the Dec. 27, 1932 inaugural show at Radio city Music Hall, their last stage appearance as a team. They gave a cameo performance performing their "casino" routine in the 1940 film "Lillian Russell". The backstage hostility in Neil Simon's play and film "The Sunshine Boys" is reportedly based on them and on Smith and Dale, another comedy team. Separate signed pieces mounted together on 4 3/4 x 8 1/4 heavy paper, "Weber and Fields" neatly inked below: Weber, 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 slip dated June 18, 1908; Fields, 2 x 3 1/2 card adding year 1908.

Condition: Very good overall, Weber slip with lower corners trimmed, fold thru bottom of "J"s, Fields card slightly toned at top
Type:Signatures






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