Like many many vaudevillians, Louise Dresser went into the business because of the need to avoid starvation. For 30,000 vaudevillians who toured the Continent at any one time, it was a job. In spite of the arduous and sometimes humiliating slog up the vaudevillian ladder to bigger money, it became a lifestyle that they learned to love. And even though the money was low at the entry level, it was usually a lot more than the average wage-earner in the real world made.
My pal Howie Swan tells me when he entered vaudeville in 1939, his trio made $45 per week, which was split evenly. He said a good wage in the real world was $12 per week and the average much lower. The vaudeville wage didn’t look bad at all to him. When I told him that I would pay him $20 per week to do shows with me – he said “SOLD!!!” Even at 99, Howie loves performing and driving to gigs with gig meals between shows and meeting new people all the time.
Louise Dresser had a tough start as you’ll hear on this episode of the Vaudecast, but she had a helping hand by a good person who helped her get started and rise to be one of the biggest stars in Vaudeville.
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