|Click to enlarge.
The title of today's post is taken from the Wizard's Act II song "On a Pay-Night Evening" (1902) with music by Bruno Schilinski and lyrics by John W. West.
The image shown at the left features signatures of many of the Wizard of Oz cast and crew on a payroll sheet from early 1905. As you can see, especially if you click on the image to make it larger, the cast and crew have signed for their pay with a clever assortment of puns, rebuses, and inside-jokes. The actors who played Cynthia Cynch, the Wizard, and Brigadier-General Riskitt didn't participate for some reason.
This amusing bit of publicity was originally published in the March 25, 1905, issue of The Stage. It was probably the idea of Townsend Walsh, Publicity Director of the show. Some of the best name gags are in the last half of the list.
The curious signatures have been printed in several Oz publications, most notably in Mark Evan Swartz's Oz Before the Rainbow (2000), but none of the contemporary publications of the payroll signatures has included the "legend" to tell you whose the signatures are. I will share the "legend" as it appeared in Stage magazine at the very end of this post. But I think it will be more fun if I take you on a personal tour through these salaried signatures. All of these signatures are from Company No. 1.
So the actors and crew have all lined up and are ready to receive their pay. Please step forward and sign your names.
|David Montgomery - Tin Woodman
|Fred Stone - Scarecrow
|Arthur Hill - Cowardly Lion
|Joseph Schrode - Imogone
|Anna Laughlin - Dorothy Gale
|Lotta Faust - Tryxie Tryfle
|Tony Faust's Restaurant in St. Louis., MO - LostTables.com
|Virginia Foltz - Sir Dashemoff Daily
|George B. Field - Sir Wiley Gyle
|George B. Field - Sir Wiley Gyle
George Field played Sir Wiley Gyle. He's got a pretty good character name to play around with. Sir Wiley typically earned $75 a week (about $2200 today). Field was married to Wizard of Oz chorus girl Leta Shaw. He was also Fred Stone's understudy and went on as the Scarecrow a number of times.
|Ella Gilroy - Witch of the North
Ella's real name was Agnes Ellen Cooper. She had begun her association with The Wizard of Oz in Chicago, playing Simon Pewer (a Munchkin), a Poppy, a Snow Girl, a member of the Phantom Patrol, a Gentleman of Wizards court, a Dreamland Maid, and got the chance to play Glinda toward the end of the post-Chicago tour. On Broadway she was playing Sophronia (a Munchkin), a Snow Boy, and Gladys Ann (a Waitress). In the 1904-05 season she took over the principal role of the Witch of the North.
|Dixie Gerard - Female Chorus
|Bert Devlin - Male Chorus
|Lillian DeVere - Female Chorus
|Lillian DeVere - Chorus
Lillian DeVere started her association with The Wizard of Oz at the Chicago premiere where she played Premonia the Munchkin girl.
Now on tour, almost three years later, she was still playing Premonia, but also playing a Snow Sprite and Aileen Nance (a Waitress in Act III).
She was making $30 a week ($875 today), and she was quite likely understudying several of the female leads.
|Daisy Carson - Female Chorus
|Nellie Blye - Female Chorus
|Nellie Blye - Chorus Girl
Nellie Blye played a Munchkin Youth, a Poppy, and variously in Act III, either Violet Victoria (a Waitress) or Jean de Char (a Cook). Her name sometimes appears in print spelled Bly (see photo at left) but she certainly signs her name as Blye.
Her signature is a reference to a much more famous Nellie Bly, a journalist who traveled around the world in 72 days, besting Phileas Fogg and Jules Verne by eight days. You can learn more about "reporter" Nellie Bly by clicking here. "Actress" Nellie Blye made $25 a week (or $728 today).
|Minna Doerge - Female Chorus
|Clara Sweet - Mystery
I think she has signed her name as "Prunes," as in Santa Clara Sweet Prunes. I still don't know what function Clara served with the show, chorus girl or production staff. There are a number of backstage support staff who sign in below.
|Isaac Oppinheimer [sic?] - Mystery
|Josephine Clayton - Poppy Queen
This is an especially fun signature. Josephine Clayton has drawn herself as the Poppy Queen, and she looks to me to be en pointe. She also played Munchkin Tommy Top and Waitress Pansy Lil. She made $30 a week ($875 today).
|Virginia Kendall - Female Chorus
|Maxwell Sargent - Army of Pastoria
|Marie Clayton - Female Chorus
|Irving H. Christian - Alonzo, the Wizard's Confederate
|Nancy Poole - Female Chorus
|Helen Turner - Female Chorus and "swing"
|Helen Turner in Wizard of Oz
Helen Turner begins her signature with a small drawing. I think she is saying that she is a "swing" for the show. The "swing" position was something like an understudy for chorus parts and sometimes served as Dance-Captain. She would have had to be ready to go into almost any of the female chorus parts at a moment's notice. You can read about the "swings" for Wicked by clicking here.
At this time her regular parts were a Munchkin Youth, a Poppy, and Claude Cliquot (a Cook in Act III). The salary figure I have for her is $20 a week ($580 today), but this may date from before she was serving as "swing," if in fact she was.
|Ralph Nichols - Male Chorus
|Harry Rough - Props and Wardrobe
The second part of the signature "Cute Props" is probably a compliment to her husband. As backstage production staff, Harry earned $18 a week ($525 today).
|Bertha Benson - Female Chorus
|Noble O. Weaver - Prop Master
|Edna Leach - Female Chorus
|Edna Leach Rough's "actual" signature.
|Addie Hott - Mystery
|Sadie L. Emmons - Female Chorus
|L. V. Carter - Cast Member
The "legend" gives only his initials, calling him L. V. Carter. But stage credits for other shows he was in call him Lon W. Carter.
His signature is wonderfully funny, making a joke on Carter's Little Liver Pills. If you're not familiar with this medication, you can read more here. I remember television commercials for them when I was very young.
|Glory Day - Mystery
|Charles Zimmerman - Musical Director
|Etta Diamond - Female Chorus
|Charles M. Hill - Production Staff
|James Finn - Electrician
I hope you have enjoyed this guided tour through these signatures. The "legend" as it appeared in The Stage magazine may be seen below.
Copyright © 2019 David Maxine. All rights reserved.