The first bill at the Palace was presented without a juggler. But soon after, W. C. Fields and other jugglers appeared. In August 1914, Sylvester Schäffer was there, doing magic, juggling, sharpshooting, and rope spinning. Another favorite at the Palace during its early days was Joe Cook. Although famous at the time for a comedy number he did about four Hawaiians, Cook later displayed a great deal of juggling ability. In later years Joe Cook appeared in Rain or Shine, a musical comedy he did as a stage presentation and later as a motion picture.
Joe Cook was an excellent club juggler, walked on a globe, and had so many other talents that he was often called "The One-Man Vaudeville Show." Of Irish-Spanish descent, Joe Cook was one of the most brilliant musical comedy stars of the late 1920s. His home in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, is said to have been loaded with comical booby traps, designed to shock and entertain his guests.
Fred Allen, who made a name for himself as a radio comedian in his late years, had a fascinating beginning as a juggler working out of Boston in the early teens. Born John Florence Sullivan on May 31, 1894, Allen began his theatrical career by doing shows at the Boston Public Library, and later doing amateur nights in theaters. Subsequently, he met Harry LaToy, a juggler who had fashioned his act after the tramp juggler Harrigan, and the hat juggler Paul LaCroix. In the ensuing years, Allen's name changed to Fred St. James, Freddy James, and finally to Fred Allen. During his Freddy James period, he billed himself as "The World's Worst Juggler." Much Ado About Me is highly recommended to those who want to know more about Fred Allen and vaudeville after 1908.
Let your light so shine before men, that
they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father which is in heaven.
St. Matthew 5:16
It is of some interest to note at this time that two well-known theatrical figures of that period began their theatrical careers as jugglers . These were Gus Sun, the theatrical booker, and F. F. Proctor, the theater owner. The names under which they worked as jugglers appear next to their real names in the list on the last pages of this book.
Rastelli worked in Europe until late 1923, then sailed for America. When Rastelli arrived in New York, vaudeville had grown significantly. It was now a strapping, healthy, 40-year-old. Kara and Salerno were still top names, but no longer in their prime. A girl juggler named Elly was working the best theaters. Wilfred DuBois and Paul Nolan were favorites. "Nolan," observes a Pace reviewer, "is a 'jesting Swede' who showed a lot of class. His dexterous manipulation of hats and balls, plus his ability as a funster, make Nolan an entertaining chap."
Vincent Lopez - The Four Ortons - The Kelly Sisters and Lynch - Ina Williams and Dick Keene - Jack Benny - Ruby Norton - Marjorie Rambeau - Jack Rose - Bob Snell.
The most informative review on Rastelli comes from an unknown reviewer (possibly M . H . Shapiro), who offers this highly descriptive account:
Rastelli is a juggler de luxe presenting an artistic exhibition of unusual skill and manipulatory cleverness in a highly commendable manner. With cherry-colored hangings of velvet almost shading to coral, and assisted by a fellow in dress suit and wearing white gloves, also a good-looking girl in a refined gown of yellow trimmed with black, the youthful Rastelli performed trick after trick with uncanny technic in most showman-like manner, even turning an occasional contretemp into a seeming feat with versatile dexterity. In a neat suit of yellow satin Enrico opens his act with juggling sticks and ball. He bounces a ball on his head and juggles six plates the meanwhile; he makes one stick revolve laterally while balanced at the end of another held in his mouth and makes it spin in the air thru revolutions imparted by movements of his head. At the end of a series of feats, Rastelli smiles as if pleased and his good humor and personality are infectious. His little trick dance step and pose would sell the feat even if less adroitly performed. Balancing a ball on the nape of his neck, Rastelli propels it in the air, turns a complete somersault and recatches it in the same locality.
Following he did a one-hand stand on a large piece of nickeled apparatus that resembled a coffee urn atop a table and at the same time caused a pole to revolve. Blindfolded he did a head stand atop a piece of apparatus camouflaged as a lamp shade, juggled a pole with his feet and three sticks with his hands while the apparatus caused him to revolve. This was a remarkable example of what skill plus unlimited patience and practice will accomplish. For a concluding feat a large globe of blue and silver was brought forward. This was illuminated from within by electric lights and decorated without by colored illuminated electric lamps and further ornamented with a couple of small American flags. Lying on space provided, Rastelli spun a large five-pointed nickeled piece of apparatus in the shape of a star on one foot, held a spinning smaller star on a rod in his mouth and juggled three sticks at the same time with his hands.
Rastelli worked in the United States more than we might imagine. His two visits (1924 and 1928) were filled with constant bookings. He played not only the big theaters but also much of the Orpheum Circuit. Following is a partial list of the many theaters he played:
Some of Kara's engagements during his mature years are listed here: Apollo, Berlin, April 20, 1919. Corso-Varieté, Zurich, April 19, 1920. Regrettably, a list of engagements played by Salerno was not available during the preparation of this book. We can safely assume, however, that Kara's and Salerno's careers were very similar. Both were "gentlemen jugglers," their ages were close, and they were both very successful. Cinquevalli's talent for playing the violin and for musical composition was matched by Salerno's mechanical resourcefulness. Salerno's color-changing torches - which he designed - are remembered and admired to this day. It is said that Salerno was also one of the first men in history to receive an aeroplane pilot's license.
It is no disparagement to place these men above the others. Indeed other great - perhaps much greater - jugglers had existed. We're well aware of Pat McBann, the Schäffers, Rapoli, Pierre Amoros, James E. Darmody, and others whose superb accomplishments certainly deserve more than mere honorable mention.