Vaudeville Wars


How the Keith-Albee and Orpheum Circuits Controlled the Big Time and Its Performers
written by Arthur Frank Wertheim, published by Palgrave Macmillan

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Media Kit – Suggested Interview Questions

1. What is vaudeville and "the big time" and how was it different from other popular stage entertainment at that time (in the late 1800s)?

2. How did B.F. Keith and Edward Albee get started in vaudeville in Boston and what changes did they make to increase profitability?

3. What types of people went to vaudeville shows and how much did they pay?

4. Please describe the lavish theaters Keith began building when his business took off.

5. Who were some of the famous vaudeville acts and how was a playbill organized?

6. How did Gustav Walter get started in vaudeville in San Francisco?

7. As Orpheum’s West Coast circuit grew, why were Morris Meyerfeld and Martin Beck integral to its success?

8. Why was there a rivalry between the East and West Coast theater circuits and what was their first alliance? What other alliances came afterwards? Did the government attempt to break up their oligopoly?

9. What was the role of William Morris (founder of the agency that still bears his name) in the vaudeville wars?

10. Why did the vaudeville performers feel the need to form the White Rats union? What were they bargaining for? Were they successful?

11. What role did Sime Silverman, the founder of Variety, play in the vaudeville wars?

12. How did the popularity of movies affect vaudeville's business?

13. What role did Joseph P. Kennedy play in taking over the Keith-Albee-Orpheum circuit and then merging it into RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum), a major film production-exhibition company?

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