Friday, August 30, 2019

On a Pay-Night Evening

Click to enlarge.
It's Friday, and it's Pay Day!

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
This one is pretty obvious. It is David Montgomery, who created the part of the Tin Woodman. He has drawn a small self-portrait and written the word "Junk."  Montgomery was earning $200 a week. In 2019 buying power that would be a little over $5000 a week.

Fred Stone - Scarecrow
It should be no surprise that Fred Stone, who created the part of the Scarecrow, is next. Stone was well known for drawing doodles and sketches of the Scarecrow when he gave autographs. He earned $200 a week, the same as David Montgomery.

Arthur Hill - Cowardly Lion
"Four Paws" is our good friend the Cowardly Lion, played by Arthur Hill. The Lion was one of the most popular characters in the original stage show. Hill earned $40 a week. That's the equivalent of about $1150 today.

Joseph Schrode - Imogone
Imogene, Dorothy's frolicsome heifer, was up next. Joseph Schrode got $35 a week for "milk money." That's about a $1000 a week. Considering how strenuous it was to play these animal parts, I'm surprised it isn't a bit more.

Anna Laughlin - Dorothy Gale
Of course Little Dottie, played by Anna Laughlin, wouldn't be far behind her pet calf. Anna earned $125 per week ($3600 in 2019 funds).

Lotta Faust - Tryxie Tryfle
Lotta Faust, who played Tryxie Tryfle, has signed her name "Tony Faust" and she's drawn a beer stein with a head of foam on it. Tony Faust's was a world-famous restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri, that was beloved by many in the theater community. Check out this terrific write up on Lost Tables.

Tony Faust's Restaurant in St. Louis., MO -
Lotta Faust was earning $100 a week as Tryxie. That's no trifling sum at almost $3000 a week in 2019 dollars.

Virginia Foltz - Sir Dashemoff Daily
Virginia Foltz played the Poet Prince, Sir Dashemoff Daily. At first I had thought her signature showed two gloves and something else. Eric Shanower saw it as "footprints," which makes it a rebus-style pun - prints for prince. Sir Dashemoff was earning $100 a week, just like Tryxie.

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 Gilroy
By this point in the tour, Ella Gilroy was playing the Witch of the North. On tour, Ella Gilroy was making $35 a week (equivalent to $1000 today).

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.

In the list this signature is below Ella Gilroy's. There is no attribution to it in the "legend." But a nearly identical signature will be seen two signatures below.

Dixie Gerard - Female Chorus
Dixie Gerard played a Farmhand in Kansas, a Poppy, a Phantom Guard, and a Royal Guard in Act III. Is that "D" supposed to be a little whip? She made $20 a week (about $580 in 2019).

Bert Devlin - Male Chorus
Bert Devlin had better luck signing this time. Was Dixie Gerard cracking the whip at him on his previous try? Bert played a Farmhand in Kansas and Sillicus (one of the Wizard's Wisemen). Based on his signature he seems to have sung first tenor. The male chorus members made a little less than the girls. Bert Devlin made $18 a week (or $525 today).

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
Daisy Carson played a Munchkin Youth, a Poppy, and a Cook named Francois Giblets in Act III. I don't have specific salary information for her. But none of the chorus girls made less than $20 a week.

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
Minna Doerge joined the show for the Broadway run and stayed in the cast when it went on tour. When she signed her name here, she was playing a Munchkin Maiden and a Poppy, and in Act III she played a Laundress. The little fish in front of her name is a minnow - a slightly forced rebus for Minna. She received $20 a week (or about $580 today). Minna's sister Ida Doerge was with the show in its first year.

Clara Sweet - Mystery
The "legend" says that this is Clara Sweet. I haven't found a Clara Sweet associated with the show. It took a while to decipher her "sweet" signature. At first I thought she had signed her name as Primer or maybe Princes. But with the help of Eric Shanower, I think we hit pay-dirt - the dirt being in Santa Clara, California.

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
Isaac Oppenheimer is a mystery to me. I find no mention of him in any Wizard of Oz programs or any publicity other than the "legend" below. He signs for his pay as "Ikey." I don't know whether he was a chorus boy or uncredited production staff.

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
Virginia Kendall has signed her name "Vinegar Buyer V. Kendall." The Vinegar Buyer was a play that opened in 1902, written by Ezra Kendall. I have not yet been able to link Virginia to Ezra, so I don't know if it's a familial reference or if Virginia was just riffing on the name Kendall and a popular play at the time. Her usual duties in the show included playing a Munchkin Youth, a Poppy, part of the Phantom Patrol, and a Royal Guard in Act III. She earned $20 a week (about $580 today).

Maxwell Sargent - Army of Pastoria
Maxwell Sargent was able to make a fine pun with his name, declaring himself a "Sergeant" in Pastoria's Army. Sargent had taken over the part of Timothy (the actual name of the single soldier in the army) at the beginning of the 1904-05 season. He had previously played a Munchkin Youth and assorted male chorus parts. I don't have a salary figure for him.

Marie Clayton - Female Chorus
Marie Clayton (called Mary in the legend) was the sister of Josephine Clayton, who signed above. I don't get the joke in her signature, though it clearly ends with "ton," the final syllable of her last name. Marie played a Munchkin Maiden, a Poppy, and a Cook named Remnante Saute.

Irving H. Christian -  Alonzo, the Wizard's Confederate
Irving Christian may be disclosing his religion in his signature, or maybe he's just being silly. He had been with The Wizard of Oz since the Chicago premiere, when he played a Farmhand and Sophocles (one of the Wizard's Wisemen). By the time of this pay period he was playing the Golfman in Kansas and the bigger part of Alonzo, the Wizard's Confederate. In the 1907 Hurtig and Seaman tour Irving began playing the Tin Woodman. Curiously, his name is missing from the "legend," but it was easy enough to figure out who he was. I do not have a salary figure for him.

Nancy Poole - Female Chorus
Nancy Poole is playing on her last name. I don't recognize the symbol she drew at left, though. Any ideas? She played the part of Semponia (a Munchkin), a Snow Sprite, and Gloriana Jane (a waitress in Act III). I do not have a salary figure for her.

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
Ralph Nichols's payday signature shows a nickle preceded by the words "A FAT." I have no idea if Mr. Nichols was on the heavy side or if his joke meant something else. He played various male chorus parts, including a Munchkin Youth.

Harry Rough - Props and Wardrobe
Harry Rough joined the show to be near his girlfriend and future wife Edna Leach. You'll hear more about them soon in an upcoming post. Harry began working wardrobe, but by this time was working in props. His wife, Edna Leach, signed his name for him here. "Rough on Rats" references a popular pesticide.

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
The meaning of Bertha Benson's signature is unclear. Was she incredibly fond of coffee? Or did she have a secret remedy for her fellow cast members' backstage injuries? In the show she played a Farmhand, a Poppy, and a Laundress. I don't have a salary figure for her.

Noble  O. Weaver - Prop Master
Noble "Ollie" Weaver was the Prop Master for Company No. 1 of The Wizard of Oz, thus his signature for his salary is self-explanatory. Ollie earned $18 a week ($525 today) while traveling with the show.

Edna Leach - Female Chorus
Edna Leach was married to Harry Rough, who worked in Wardrobe and Props. She signed for him several spaces further up the list. I noticed the handwriting looked very similar, so I compared it to Edna Leach Rough's actual signature seen below. Her capital Rs are distinct and the full name "Rough" is very close to the way she signed for Harry's pay up above in "Rough on Rats."

Edna Leach Rough's "actual" signature.
Edna played multiple chorus parts, including a Munchkin Maiden and Act III Cook Punge de Sert. She earned $20 a week ($580 today) and $2 more a week than her husband, who worked backstage.

Addie Hott - Mystery
Addie Hott probably signed her name "Ginger" because her last name was Hott. Unfortunately I have no idea what function she served with The Wizard of Oz.

Sadie L. Emmons - Female Chorus
Sadie Emmons played Antonia (a Munchkin Maiden), a Snow Sprite, Captain of the Phantom Patrol, and Alberto (Officer of the Day) in Act III. She does not use her middle initial in her professional name but it is provided in the "legend" below, explaining how she got the rebus above from her middle initial and her last name. Sadie made $30 a week ($875 today), the top rate for female chorus parts with The Wizard of Oz in the 1904-05 season.

L. V. Carter - Cast Member

Lon W. Carter is known to have been with The Wizard of Oz, but I have no information on what he played.

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
I have no record of a Glory Day working on The Wizard of Oz. Her signature seems to be reflective of her name.

Charles Zimmerman - Musical Director
Charles Zimmerman was Musical Director for The Wizard of Oz from the Broadway opening through the end of the original Mitchell and Hamlin tour. He traveled with Company No. 1 during that time. He also wrote new material for the show, including the very popular songs "Football" and "Sitting Bull" for the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, and "Only You" and "When the Heart is Sad" for Sir Dashemoff Daily. The first three songs were all published as sheet music, but "When the Heart is Sad" was not. Perhaps the musical quote with which he signed is that song. It is not any of his three published songs or anything else I recognize from the show. Charles Zimmerman made $18 a week ($525 today) traveling with the show.

Etta Diamond - Female Chorus
Etta Diamond chose to sign with a rebus of her last name: Dime Man. She played a Farmhand, a Munchkin Youth, a member of the Phantom Patrol, and a Royal Guard. I don't have a salary figure for her, but others in her class were making $20 a week (or $580 today).

Charles M. Hill - Production Staff
Charles M. Hill was the Stage Carpenter. His signature is obvious.  His job must have been a back-breaker! Sometimes the tour would pull in to the train station at noon and Hill and his stage hands would have to move all the scenery from the train to the theatre (by horse and wagon) and have the show ready for an audience by 8:00 PM that evening. For that he received $18 a week (or $525 today).

James Finn - Electrician
James Finn was the Chief Electrician for The Wizard of Oz on Broadway and he toured with Company No. 1 for quite a while. He also designed the electrical dimmer and control system used in the show and was in charge of the projections. His signature is self-explanatory. He earned $18 a week (or $525 today). Considering that his lighting and projectors were one of the most lauded attractions in the show, I'm surprised he wasn't earning more.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for researching, writing and posting this. Dixie Gerard was briefly my grandmother and her two sisters' stepmother in St. Louis after their biological mother died following childbirth. Grandma said Dixie was 16 and a lot of fun, but Broadway beckoned her. As the family genealogist, I am always seeking out information that gives me a deeper understanding of who the folks in the family history were.