American "vaudeville" has little to do with the original French usage of the word, but borrowed it only to give a classy aura to bills of short variety acts, thus distinguishing them from the risqué variety acts presented in concert saloons and comiques. The word was employed by a few theatre managers as early as 1840, but the quintessential American vaudeville style was established by Tony Pastor, whose Fourteenth Street Theatre opened in 1881 and perfected a style of family oriented variety amusements of the highest quality. Pastor's success spurred other variety producers to elevate the quality of their work and to dispense with the more vulgar acts that offended family audiences. B. F. Keith and his associate E. F. Albee attempted a "store-show" at the Gaiety Theatre in Boston, and it was so successful that they expanded their operations to various entertainments in several theatres before opening their first exclusively vaudeville theatre in Boston in 1894. Other producers, including F. F. Proctor, Martin Beck, Oscar Hammerstein I, followed suit. The 1910s brought widespread acceptance of vaudeville throughout middle America, and theatres were built to accommodate it.
   Various vaudeville circuits were managed by different organizations, including the Orpheum Circuit in the western United States and the Keith-Albee Circuit in the East. Beck built New York's fabled Palace Theatre, which became the pinnacle of achievement for entertainers. The circuits led vaudeville performers to a life of continual touring. Many performers who had their first successes in vaudeville, including George M. Cohan, Al Jolson, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bob Hope, and Bert Williams, moved into legitimate theatre or musicals, while others fell from vaudeville into burlesque. Actors from the legitimate stage, like Lillie Langtry, Ethel Barrymore, and Alla Nazimova, performed short plays on vaudeville bills between Broadway stints. Among popular entertainments, vaudeville dominated between 1890 and 1930, after which the combination of sound motion pictures and the economic pressures of the Great Depression essentially killed it.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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  • Vaudeville — was a genre of variety entertainment prevalent on the stage in the United States and Canada, from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. This pop culture genre developed from many sources, including the concert saloon, minstrelsy, freak shows,… …   Wikipedia

  • VAUDEVILLE — A l’origine, au XVe siècle, le vaudeville, ou vaudevire, du nom du lieu où il a pris naissance, est une chanson gaie et maligne. Jusqu’à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, moment où il se fond avec le courant de la chanson française, le vaudeville se… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Vaudeville — Vaude ville, n. [F., fr. Vau de vire, a village in Normandy, where Olivier Basselin, at the end of the 14th century, composed such songs.] [Written also {vaudevil}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A kind of song of a lively character, frequently embodying a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Vaudéville — Vaudéville …   Wikipedia Español

  • Vaudeville — (fr. spr. Wohdwihl), eine Gattung des französischen Liedes, welches durch den Mund des Volkes geht, mehre Couplets (Strophen) hat, oft satirischen Inhalts ist u. sich meist auf ein komisches Tagesereignis eine lächerliche Sitte der Zeit, auf eine …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Vaudeville — Vaudeville. Olivier Basselin, ein Walker in der Normandie, im Anfange des 15. Jahrh, pflegte launige Lieder zu dichten und sie, während er sein Tuch in die Rahmen spannte, in den Vaux oder Thälern an den Ufern des Flusses Vire zu singen. Diese,… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • vaudeville — 1739, light, popular song, especially one sung on the stage, from Fr. vaudeville, alteration (by influence of ville town ) of M.Fr. vaudevire, said to be from (chanson du) Vau de Vire (song of the) valley of Vire, in the Calvados region of… …   Etymology dictionary

  • vaudeville — VAUDEVILLE. s. m. Chanson qui court par la Ville, dont l air est facile à chanter, & dont les paroles sont faites ordinairement sur quelque avanture, sur quelque intrigue du temps. Chanter un vaudeville …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Vaudéville — is a village and commune in the Vosges département of northeastern also*Communes of the Vosges department …   Wikipedia

  • Vaudeville — (franz., spr. wo d wil ), bei Boileau noch im Sinne von »satirisches Lied«, seit Anfang des 18. Jahrh. Gattung von Schauspielen mit Gesang und Instrumentalbegleitung, die ihren Namen von den leichtfertigen Liedern (Gassenhauern) ableitete, die… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Vaudeville — (spr. wod wíl), ursprünglich franz. Volkslied satir. Inhalts (s. Basselin); jetzt ein heiteres Bühnenstück mit eingelegten Couplets …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

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