Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Medicine Show

Since the show in The Parlor is based on the medicine show we might as well start there. The medicine show, as we know it, started in the late 19th Century. Before that, wandering entertainers, especially magicians were known to use their entertainment as a hook to listen to a sales pitch for patent medicines, hair powder, tooth powder, pomade or some kind of amulet or charm.

Over time the show became something of a variety show and the main product became the patent medicines (more about those in another post). They would come to a locale for a few days providing entertainment and "health care" before leaving...either as planned or being chased out.

 Here is a clip from a 1932 movie, ffeaturing two legendary performers, Jimmy Durante and George M Cohan (this is the only known film of Cohan performing. If you have seen the Cohan bio-picm "Yankee Doodle Dandy" you will see that James Cagney did study Cohan's style and immitated it well)

PS: The above clip is from The Phantom President (1932)

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