Dan Mason

From Vaudeville to Broadway to the Silent Screen


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About the Book

In a career that spanned 57 years, Dan Mason (1853–1929) went from performing German dialect routines in variety halls to appearing in Broadway musicals to playing character roles in silent films. Along the way he also wrote, produced, directed and starred in his own plays. Best remembered for his role as the irascible “Skipper” in the Toonerville Trolley silent comedies, Mason created dozens of unique and colorful characters on stage and screen.
This first-ever biography of the American comedian explores the roots of his craft and the challenges he faced navigating the rapidly changing world of popular entertainment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

About the Author(s)

Joseph P. Eckhardt is a retired college professor of history. His previous works include biographies of film pioneer Siegmund Lubin, nineteenth century artist William T. Trego, and Woodstock artists Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason. He lives in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Bibliographic Details

Joseph P. Eckhardt
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 203
Bibliographic Info: 47 photos, appendices, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8341-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4181-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
Preface 1
Part One: Dan Mason on Stage
1. The Dutch Boy from Syracuse 5
2. The Trouper 11
3. The Traveling Family Man 24
4. The Two Dans 37
5. Broadway 43
Part Two: Dan Mason on Screen
6. The Pictures 57
7. The Toonerville Trolley 70
8. Plum Center 81
9. Hollywood 91
10. “Characters, Comic or Otherwise” 101
11. The Idle List 121
Appendix A. Afterpieces, Plays and Scenarios by Dan Mason 129
Appendix B. The Crowded Hotel by Dan Mason and Dan Sully 131
Appendix C. Dan Mason, Raconteur 135
Filmography 141
Chapter Notes 173
Bibliography 185
Index 189

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Eckhardt has done a superior job of bringing Dan Mason alive both as a person and as an actor, writer, and director. He also brings alive the environment and atmosphere of vaudeville and the stage in the days before electricity was common.”—Toonerville Times of Toonerville Collector’s Club Newspaper

• “An impressively full-bodied portrait of Mason, the man and the performer.”—David C. Tucker Blogspot