An entertaining record of a life and a time
Ed Lowry joined the vaudeville circuit in 1910 at the age of fourteen. He never achieved stardom equal to the likes of Fred Allen, Jack Benny, George Burns, Buster Keaton, or Eddie Cantor, and he never considered himself an “artiste.” Instead, he saw himself as a hoofer and comic simply trying to make a living on the vaude scene. My Life in Vaudeville recounts Lowry’s long career in entertainment from the viewpoint of a foot soldier with a big dream.
Lowry’s story begins in the heyday of vaudeville in the early twentieth century and follows its gradual decline. Unlike many of his associates, he recognized that movies and other forms of entertainment were the future, and thus branched out into other venues. He took gigs in radio in Philadelphia, Newark, New York, and Los Angeles; explored revues, cabarets, burlesque, and film; and organized USO road shows. With wit and perception, he reveals his stage roots as an entertainer playing to his audience, and editor Paul M. Levitt’s introduction beautifully sets the stage for Lowry’s gags-to-riches tale, providing much-needed historical perspective.
My Life in Vaudeville is an unpretentious record of a time when thousands of young people went into show business to escape the boredom of daily life, and Lowry’s story is a view of vaudeville not often encountered. Lowry does much more than recall the daily life of a working actor, musician, and comedian. His story brings vaudeville to life and places it within the larger narratives of popular culture and popular entertainment of the twentieth century.