Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ben Turpin TROUPER

Turpin circa 1895, prancing in Cincinnati. Courtesy of Brandt Rowles
One of my goals in the writing of Ben Turpin’s biography was to compile as complete a list as possible of Ben’s stage appear-ances. I did chart a number of his appearances throughout the book, but by the time of its publishing, I realized it’s a goal that was improbable if not impossible. It’s just going to take time and access to many sources which I believe are in the not too distant future thanks to the information highway.
   In 1922 Col. W.S. Butterfield, who began Michigan’s first vaudeville circuit in 1899 re-membered one of his first acts: 
Young Ben in an unidentified small part
 “Ben Turpin did a knock-about specialty which included falling from tables and chairs stacked high enough to reach the stage borders. Ben’s contract called for $35. weekly.” My Turpin biography goes into additional accounts such as Butterfield’s.

  Since the publication of For Art’s Sake, I offer his audience several new and additional Ben Turpin stage appearances, a work-in-progress which I hope to continue to chart at this blogsite.

1892, Ben Turpin is residing at 310 W. Jackson St., Chicago, and working at 129 Market St. (an as yet unidentified business) as a clerk. He soon joins Chief Lo's Traveling Medicine Show.

August 18, 1892: Dr. Turpin of Chicago arrested in Wabash, Indiana for selling medicine without a license.

February 21, 1893: Ben Turpin takes a man to court in a charge of larceny in Chicago.

May 16, 1896: Ben breaks his leg when the train headed to Milwaukee he bummed a ride on has a major accident in Waldo, Wisconsin, fifty miles north of Milwaukee. Turpin was found two hours after the accident buried under damaged timber and cargo. Three others were killed and the train's fireman was badly hurt.

January 1, 1898: New York Dramatic Mirror mentions Mr. R. B. Turpin is manager of the Union Grand Theater, Union City, Indiana.

February 24, 1898: Bernard Turpin, 28, of 608 West Fourth St., Cincinnati, marries Miss Norma Koch, 20, of 56 McMicken Ave., in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
April 3, 1899, Turpin playing Hopkins St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans, with Folke and Semon; Fred Niblo; Lester and Stevens; and the Hopkins Dramatic Stock Co. in The Lost Paradise.

July 29, 1899: The Standard Theater  (Fort Worth, Texas) : A big hit was scored in the production of the farce comedy, Wanted – A Wife, presented by the following people: John Chick, Frank Gibbons, George Milton, Ben Turpin, Rose Mendel, Leota Howard, Amy Gilbert, Edith Wilmo and Annie Chick. Rest of people: Ada Yule, Lulu Lawton, Leonie Mendel, Annie Milton, Ethel Barlow and Maggie Lawler. New York Clipper, page 5

August 5, 1899: Ben playing The Standard (Fort Worth) with The Chicks; The Miltons; Rose Mendel; The Wilmos; Ada Yule; Lulu Lawton; Leonie Mendel; Ethel Barlow in Frank DeBeque’s initial burlesque production, The Belle of the Acre to crowded houses. New York Clipper, page 4

September 23, 1899: Ben and Norma Turpin playing People’s Theater, Fort Worth, Texas, along with The Ritchies; Professor Cecil Aldrich; Tom Gale; Madeline Ray; Lonnie St. Clair; Bertha Glenn; Lulu Hunter; Pearl Fay; the Hart Brothers; and Joe Rogan. New York Clipper

October 23-28, 1899: Ben and Norma Turpin playing the Palace Theatre (Houston, Texas), along with Carrie Scott; Katie Holmes; Sadie Pierce; Jessie Woods; Aggie Wilbur; Maud Holmes; George DeHaven; Hiney Walker; Matt Cooper; Tom White; Clara Lawrence. The manager, James N. Hanlin, reported that “business is dull.” New York Clipper, Nov 4, 1899, page 9

October 30, 1899: The Turpin’s back at the Palace Theater (Houston) along with: Maudie Holmes; Hiney Walker; George DeHaven; Cooper & White; Clara Dorance; Carrie Scott; Jessie Woods; Lennie Green; and Carrie Wolf. New York Clipper

December 11-16, 1899: Ben and Norma Turpin return to the Palace Theatre (Houston). Other acts include Lord & Rowe’s Minstrels; Miss Carmelita; Lulu Lawlor; Pearl Winons; Faedora; Lillie Ellsworth; Emma Barrett; La Compt, The Fire King; La Tosca; Katie Holmes; Lucy Wolf; Sadie Pierce; Kittie Burke; Green & Lewis; Joseph Sassie and Professor Sassie. This time, business was big. New York Clipper, Dec 23, 1899, page 11

Dec 25-30, 1899: Ben Turpin playing the Palace Theater, Houston, for the week along with Millie Omene; Ivy Mass; Jack Turnbull; Emma Barrett; The Bonhams, Jim and Elsie; Mabel Gohl; Faedora; Lillie Ellsworth; Lennie Green. “Business for the holidays was very large.” New York Clipper, Jan 6, 1900

January 8-13, 1900: Ben Turpin playing the Palace Theater, Houston, along with Jack Turnbull; George Garden; Professor Papelona, magician; Ivy Moss; Mabel Gohl; Faedora; Emma Barrett; Carrie Scott; Kittie Burke; Omene the Oriental; Princess Zara; Ed. Chase; Joe Sassie; and Lennie Green. New York Clipper, Jan 20, 1900

“Ben Turpin closed his engagement at the Palace Theater, Houston, Texas, after working in the stock for ten weeks. He leaves for New Orleans, Louisiana, to join George Fuller’s Big Comedy Company.” New York Clipper, Jan 20, 1900, page 4

June 25-30, 1900: Ben playing the Palace Theater (Houston), along with Charles Gates, Charles Cross, Robert Nickelson, Pearl Lamont, Emma Barrett, and Faedora. New York Clipper

September 24-29, 1900: Broadway Theatre (Houston, Texas) reported “excellent” business this week. Lucky Ranch, a drama in four acts, was a hit. Cast included: Al Hensley, Charles Yates, Charles Cross, Wm. Hart, Wm. Murphy, Annie Wilson, Gertie LaTour and Loretta Hastings. The rest of the bill included: Ben Turpin, Marguerite LePonte, May Wheeler, Kate Hastings, Violet LePonte, Flo Williams & Dollie Wilson, Kolo & Almo, Fay Wilder and Irene Davis. Jim Wolfe and wife left the 23rd to fill an engagement at Dallas. New York Clipper, page 4

December 3-7, 1900: Ben and Norma Turpin playing the Broadway Theatre (Houston) along with Flo Williams & Dolly Wilson; Coleman & Mexis; Billy Gibson & Tillie Melbourne; Roy Dee; Bella & Grace Hartland; Maude Grayson; Ernest Bailey; Charles Cross; Frank McKenzie; James Wolf; Will Gibson; W.H. Wright; Annie Beavers; and Flossie Bailey.

December 10-15 and 17-22, 1900: Ben back at Houston’s Broadway Theater..

From 1901, a tune dedicated to
Ben Turpin, The Rubber Neck Tramp
January 11-12, 1901: Ben plays Friday and Saturday evening plus a Saturday matinee at the Opera House in Bryan, Texas along with Nye’s Comedy Company; Coleman and Mexi, trick shooters; Miss Genevieve Livingston; Miss Bessie George; Arch Knipe, and others all of whom just closed a successful tour over the Keith Circuit of Eastern houses. Show also included illustrated song slides, moving pictures, and startling scenes of the recently devastated city of Galveston.

May 6-11, 1901: Ben and others playing the Broadway Theater, Houston. New York Clipper

June 3-8, 1901: Ben back at the Broadway Theater (Houston), along with other acts. New York Clipper

July 17, 1901, Vicksburg, Mississippi: “Ben Turpin’s grotesque dancing, a new feature (at Athletic Park Theater), wins additional applause and favors each evening.” Others on the bill that night included Keifer and Diamond; Kena; and W. H. Cross. On Sunday July 21, 1901 a new bill for the next week was announced that featured Miss Nellie Berwick, Serio Comic Artist; John King Cole, The Musical King; Chester, World Famed Equilibrist; Baby Newroth, Wonderful Child Dancer; The Bonney Brothers, Knock-About Artists; W.H. Cross, Character Comedian; Mitchell and Berwick in their Acrobatic Comedy sketch, “Willie With an Ax”; and held over, Ben Turpin, The Grotesque Dancer. Admission was ten and twenty-five cents.

July 30, 1901, Vicksburg, Mississippi: “There was a goodly attendance at the Park Theater, following that at the ball park in the afternoon, and while some disappointment was felt at the inability of Miss Beatrice Golden to sing, owing to a severe cold, there was a good program devised by Manager Cross. The chief entertainers were Ben Turpin and A. M. McCracken, who were well received, and rendered quite a number of specialties. Mr. Turpin closed his two weeks stay Sunday night, and was given quite an ovation on his last appearance. He is a clever and entertaining comedian and impromptu sketch artist and has made many friends during his stay here who will watch his subsequent career with interest…”  

August 17, 1901: “Ben Turpin has closed a two weeks engagement at Vicksburg, Mississippi, with Jackson and Memphis, Tennessee to follow.” New York Clipper

August 2-3 (Fri & Sat), 1901, Jackson, Mississippi:  “Rubber Neck” Ben Turpin doing his Buck & Wing Dance on the bill with Kenna, the Contortionist; L.J. Alber, Impersonator; and Vitascope moving pictures and illustrated song slides on Friday and Saturday night at Livingston Park. Turpin also stayed the following week (Aug 4-10) and was on the bill again with L. J. Alber in addition to A. M. McCracken, whistler and imitator; John King Cole, King of Musical Novelties; Vitascope moving pictures and illustrated song slides.

September 21, 1901: Ben played Robison’s Olympia (Louisville, Kentucky) with Harry & Bessie Allen; May Brown; Jno. McNamary; John Rooksby; Alma Clifton; and Joe Livingston. Business was reported as “Good.” New York Clipper

September 23-29, 1901: “Ben Turpin; Jennings & Renfrew; Grace Hess; Waring & Frazier; Mr. & Mrs. Larry Shaw; and May Kennedy are booked for this theater (Heck’s Wonder World, Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 1901).”  New York Clipper, page 13  Turpin received $25 for the week from Will S. Heck.

October (days?) 1901: Ben playing the Midway Theater, Cincinnati.

November 19-24, 1901: Ben back at the Broadway Theater, Houston, along with Tillie Melbourne; Maud Grayson; Bella Hartland; Grace Hartland; Roy Dee; Billy Gibson; Ernest Bailey; Pauline Blossom; Charles Cross; F. McKenzie; and Charles Flanders.

November 25-31(?), 1901: Cincinnati: Ben working as theater's Stage Manager and playing "Shadow" in the play Coming Man with Mr. Livingston, Mr. Tenny, and Irene Grace. Theater Sole proprietor: Phil Gross, Jr.; Treasurer: Phil Gross, Sr.; General Manager: Fred Gross; Musical Director: A. E. Gorey.

April 29-May 4, 1902: Ben returns to the Broadway Theater, Houston.

May 6-11, 1902: Ben playing Broadway Theater, Houston.

Ben, in his acrobatic tramp act, completes a six week engagement at the Columbia Theater, Sistersville, West Virginia.

June 11-16, 1902: Ben playing Broadway Theater, Houston.

August 9, 1902: “Remsey and Bradham, at the close of a three weeks’ engagement at Sistersville, West Virginia, with the entire company, were given an outing in B. McCoy’s steam yacht on the Ohio River. All hands enjoyed the bathing and supper which followed. Those present were: Ben Turpin and his wife, Monroe and St. Clair, Norma King, Billy Hastings and wife, and B. McCoy. New York Clipper, pg 2

The members of the May Kirby Big Vaudeville Co. chartered the steam launch Blanche M, and we all took a trip up the Ohio River. Our company consists of Munroe & St. Clair, Tom Korman, Norma Turpin, and Harry Flowers. New York Clipper, pg 3

October 6, 1902: Miss New York Jr. company opens at Troy, New York on this day with chorus girls including Norma Turpin, Eva Wheeler, Amy Williams, Katherine Burt, Selma Dauphin, Angelina Arden, Edna Arden, Blanche Toledo, Carrie Hilton, Josie Flynn, and Bessie Dooley. Others included Minnie Granville, contralto singer; Olio-Hilton Bros, Yiddish jugglers; Marlon & Pearl, acrobatic comics; Clara Adams, coon shouter; Prior & Albright, Irish comics; Bessie Taylor & Blanche Martin, and Prof. Lawrence Crane, The Irish Mystery. New York Clipper

October 19, 1902: Ben Turpin just one of many who entertained a large audience at Palm Garden in Brooklyn, NY at a charity festivity given by the Magnolia K.U. Verein. Other entertainers included: Professor Struck; Levine and Alma; Amos the Juggler; Whitely and Bell, Dutch comics; Wink and Mack, comedy acrobats; Miss Katherine Eppig, songstress; and others

January 26 - February 1, 1903: Ben plays the Whitney Opera House, Fitchburg, Massachusetts with Prof. Nello; Wood & Stone; Whit & Sheldon; Cora Miskel and her Pickanninnies.

February 14, 1903: “Ben Turpin recently played Austin and Stone’s Museum, Boston, with Fitchburg and Lowell, Massachusetts to follow. He writes that he is making a big hit with his new act as Happy Hooligan, and is booked solid until March 30th.” New York Clipper, page 4

February, 1903: Ben playing Boston Theater, Lowell, Massachusetts with Gilbert and his Trained Goats; Mooney & Holbein; William Leroy; Excella & Heath; and A Trip to the Moon, also a reprise of the special act, Amateur Minstrels.

February 23-28, 1903: Ben playing the Hub Theater, Milford, Massachusetts with Busch, Morrison, & Burwick; and the Bell Sisters.

March 2-7, 1903: Ben playing Sheedy’s Theater, Fall River, Massachusetts with Sully & Phillips; Payne & Edwards; The Brothers Rolen; Laura Bradshaw; and Lorraine & Vinton. New York Clipper

Mid-March 1903: Ben playing Sheedy's, Chicago, with The Frasier Trio; Bellman & Ackle; Alburtus & Millar; Mitchell & Love; Al H. Burtin; Raymond Moore; and Count d'Hauterive's Color Animated Photos.

May 1903: Ben playing Ninth & Arch Museum, Philadelphia, PA. Last week of the season. Interesting array of curios in the curio halls and, in the theater a vaudeville programme: James H. Cole; Jacobs and Van Lyle; Marguerite Clemens; Mr. & Mrs. S. I. Boydell; and The Franklin Sisters.

September 27, 1903: Mr. Ben Turpin, “the only and original Happy Hooligan in his funny specialties, acrobatic work and buck and wing dancing,” playing the Monumental Theatre in Raleigh, North Carolina, on bill with Pauline Geary and Leonard Rowe of the Adair, Gregg and Adair Stock Company, in a melodrama, The Victorian Cross; Hal Johnson, toe and in-step dancer; Charles Sanders, the Hot Time Man; and John and Rena Sanders, specialties. A week later the AGA Co. plays the Durham Opera House, Durham, North Carolina. Mon: The Victorian Cross; Tues: Nevada; Wed matinee: Cinderella, or The Glass Slipper; Wed evening: The Belle of Richmond.

October 26-31, 1903: Ben playing Bijou Theater, Norfolk, Virginia with Ida Carroll, Belle Danton, Bertha Stead, Sisters Stanley, Marion Moran, and the Walsh Brothers. New York Clipper

November 2-7 and 9-14, 1903: Turpin Brothers (sic?) playing The Bijou, Norfolk, Virginia. New York Clipper

Quite possibly the ad Turpin saw, and the job he found.
One day Ben sees a want ad for a boy to handle props, act, and do a specialty act with the Mabel Paige Southern Repertoire Co., "salary fifteen dollars a week, money for ticket wired." He joined in November 1903, possibly during one of these dates...
November 16-21, 1903: South Boston, Virginia
OR: November 23-28, 1903: Danville, Virginia

November 30, 1903: Mamona Hall The Princess of Patches A Southern Comedy in 4 Acts with: Mabel Paige, Henry F. Willard, John Clark, Val F. Barras, T. Spencer Sprague, Robert Hynman, Josephine Riemann, Julia Phelps, Marie DeTrace, and Ben Turpin as Nebuchadnezer, the colored servant. Also Specialty acts including Ben as Happy Hooligan and others including Marvelous Hermion. Ben also listed as “Manager - Properties” in company credits. Tomorrow night’s presentation: Becky Bliss, The Circus Girl (for Nov 31).

December 10, 1903:
Mabel Paige and the Harry F. Willard Company play three nights and a Saturday matinee at the Masonic Opera House, New Bern, North Carolina. Additional specialties between the acts included Marvelous Hermion in his latest Parisian Electric Dance, and Ben Turpin, the original Happy Hooligan.

December 23, 1903: “The new Mt. Olive Opera House opens in Mt. Olive, North Carolina, with Mabel Paige Southern Stock Company. Proprietor and manager R.J. Southerland, Jr. tendered a barbecue banquet after the show which included guests Mabel Paige, Julia Phelps, Josephine Reimann, Marie DeTrace, H.F. Willard, Val Barras, Will Easton, T. Spencer Sprague, Robert Hyman, Ben Turpin, Frank Preston, Marvelous Hermion, and John Higgins, manager of the Goldsboro Opera House.” New York Clipper, page 4

January 9, 1904: “Ben Turpin is with the Mabel Paige Southern Co., playing parts and doing his Happy Hooligan act. This is his tenth week with the company, and his act, he writes, has met with success.” New York Clipper

November 16-21, 1903: South Boston, Virginia
November 23-28, 1903: Danville, Virginia
December 10-12, 1903: New Bern, North Carolina, Masonic Opera House
December 1903: Mt. Olive, North Carolina, Mt. Olive Opera House
January 18-23, 1904: Winston, North Carolina
January 25-30, 1904: Charlotte, North Carolina Academy of Music
February 1-3, 1904: Gastonia, South Carolina
February 4-6, 1904: Spartansburg, South Carolina
February 8-13, 1904: Asheville, North Carolina
February 15-20, 1904: Augusta, Georgia Opera House
March 7 & 8, 1904: Macon, Georgia Academy of Music
March 10-12, 1904: Macon, Georgia Academy of Music
March 21-23, 1904: Indianapolis, Indiana’s Park Theater

April 11-16, 1904: Ben playing in St. Augustine, Florida. New York Clipper

April 18-23, 1904: Ben playing Brunswick, Georgia. New York Clipper

April 25-30, 1904: Ben playing the Opera House, Pensacola, Florida. New York Clipper
OR: Marshall, Texas Opera House

May 2-21, 1904: Ben playing the Pickett Springs Casino, Montgomery, Alabama, along with the Mabel Paige Southern Company. Manager Henry F. Willard noted: “We closed a successful season of 42 weeks at the Pickett Springs Casino, May 21, and we are booked at the same park August 2, for a 4 weeks run.” New York Clipper  Of seven names mentioned that would be returning next season, Turpin’s name was not included.

May 21, 1904, The New York Clipper, page 2: Ben Turpin writes: “I am on my 30th week with the Mabel Paige Company, and have made good everywhere with my Happy Hooligan specialty. We close May 21, at Montgomery, Alabama. I will play parks this summer, and am booked solid until the latter part of September.”

July 11, 1904: Ben Turpin, “The Laugh Artist,” playing Forest Park, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, on a bill with The Myers, song illustrators; main attraction Campbell Straton’s comedy drama, All for Gold starring Townsend Irwin, Willie Wolfe, Miss Tolson, Mr. Harland, and Miss Aubrey.

July 25-30, 1904: Ben playing Persica’s New Garden Theater, Memphis, Tennessee, along with Mamie Curry, Vassie Allison, Leo Florence, Bertha McMorris, Theo. Wilson, Lillie B. Gardner, Nina Straw, Lillian May, Eleanor Dunbar, and the comedy production, Pink Dominoes. New York Clipper

December 23, 1904: Ben Turpin playing the Loderhouse Company, Chicago, along with many others including The Six Flying Banvards; Harry Bowers, trapeze performer; Blanche Brogan, Nay Leavitt, Al Mastiff, Eddie Troy, Lulu Nerviel, Elsie Duval, May O’Dell, Ruby Lynn, Eva Aldine, Lillian Miller, Dollie Watson, Ella Hess, May Wilson, Carroll Terry, Frankie Kershaw, Oriental dancers; May Howard, Hazel Kirk, Martine, Blondell, Georgianna, and Irving, trapeze act. 

March 4, 1905: The Orpheum, Ben Turpin Company in Happy Hooligan, with Ben as Hooligan, Carrie Turpin(?) as Miss Susanne, and Pete Sawdust as Young Hooligan.

June 17, 1905: Casino Park, Elgin, Illinois opened the season with the following acts: Ben Turpin; The Carroll Bros; Hair & Blamtlon; The LaMoyne Sisters; Jas. H. Smith; Maude Collins; and Murphy & Cohn. New York Clipper, page 15

August 28, 1905: The Grand, Marion, Indiana. Playing one week at $30 for the week.

September 11, 1905: The Olympic, Chicago. Playing one week at $30 for the week.

September 18-23, 1905: Ben playing The Columbia, St. Louis, Missouri at $40 for the week. New York Clipper

September 25-30, 1905: Ben playing the Haymarket (Chicago) the week of September 25 along with Madame Slapoffski; Mr. & Mrs. Hughes; Musical Johnsons; Fox & Summers; Hines & Remington; Mme. Emmy’s Dogs; T. Nelson Downes; Felix, Barry & Barry; Cushman & St. Claire; Dougherty Bros.; and the kinodrome. (Turpin working the Kohl & Castle circuit). New York Clipper, page 8

October 23-28, 1905: Ben playing The Bijou Theater, Oshgosh, Wisconsin. New York Clipper

November 18, 1905: Ben finishes with Kohl & Castle, and booked solid until Feb 4, 1906

January 15-20, 1906: Ben playing The Bijou Theater, Bay City, Michigan with Higgins & Philips; Nellie Revelle; the Burke Brothers; and the Biograph. New York Clipper

February 12, 1906: Ben Turpin plays the Bijou Theatre, Kenosha, Wisconsin, along with The Roofs; M. Hoffman; The Aerial Martins; The Great Perris; and moving pictures.

March 22 (Thur), 1906: Ben Turpin playing the Industrial Theatre, Fourteenth St and Fifth Ave, Moline, Illinois, along with Fisher and Johnson, comedy cyclists; Lucille Harper, illustrated songstress; Carrie B. Miller, singer & change artist; Masoney & Wilson, sister act; and Optiscope moving pictures. “Ben Turpin, the original Happy Hooligan, is very clever in his line of work.”

March 26, 1906: Ben plays the Gaiety Theatre, Springfield, Illinois this week along with Anderson & Reynolds; Heavenly & McRae; Wava Cummings; Trask & Rogers; moving pictures. Business 'Fair'.

April 16, 1906: Ben playing on the week’s big bill at The Olympic, Clark and Randolph Sts, Chicago, along with Watson, Hutchins and Edwards; Melville & Stetson; Lew Sully; Steeley, Doty & Coe; The Bounding Gordons; Beatrice McKenzie & Co.; Hal M. Britt; Dixon & Fields; M’lle Dair; Ed & Kittie Deagon; The Thompson Sisters; Frankie Campbell; The Livingston Brothers; and Kinodrome moving pictures.

April 29, 1906: Hooligan's Troubles playing the Moline Theater (Davenport, Iowa?) 

May 7, 1906: Turpin plays the Family Theatre, Lafayette, Indiana, this week with Mr. & Mrs. Jno. T. Powers; Bates & Ernese; Laura McDowell; and Felix Rice to 'Good business.'

May 21-23 (Mon - Wed), 1906: Turpin’s Hooligan’s Trouble with a Table playing the Family Theatre, Huntington, Indiana, along with Elsie Bell, illustrated songstress; Jack Irwin, monologue; Delmar & Darrel, comedy singing & change act; and Kinodrome moving pictures. “Ben Turpin, alias Happy Hooligan, is a startler and besides being a real comedian is an excellent tumbler.”  

May 27, 1906: Turpin playing The Savoy Theater, Columbus, Indiana, this week along with Williams and Moyer, comics; Lena Davenport, cornetist; The Clarence Sisters, character dance & song; illustrated songs and Bioscope moving pictures. 
June 3, 1906: Evansville, Indiana’s Oak Summit Park opened with two performances by the following: Ben Turpin; Swor Bros; Lena Davenport; Arthur Stewart; Kelley Sisters; Pero & Wilson; Willard Newell & Company; and Kinodrome. New York Clipper

August 13-18, 1906: Ben Turpin “that famous comedy acrobat, formerly with Ringling Brothers” playing The Dominion, Winnipeg, Canada the week of August 13 with Anita Allen & Company in Car Two, Stateroom One; also Will H. Fox, trick pianist known as Paddywhiski in England; The Three Troubadours, refined male comedy singing trio; Martine & Maxmillian; Miss Fannie Frankel, prima donna soprano; and kinodrome. New York Clipper, page 16  The Manitoba Morning Free Press wrote: “It was an evening of solid enjoyment from the rise of the curtain for the redoubtable Ben Turpin, until the descent of the ‘Star,’ traveler of the Kinodrome. The first bunch of fun was supplied by Ben Turpin, an acrobatic comedian, who looked funny and whose actions did not belie his looks. He did some very clever stunts and had wit to match.”

October 8, 1906: Ben gives 'good performance' this week at the Garrick Theatre, Burlington, Iowa along with Jurazall & Razall; Hy Greenway; Morris Jones; Rector & Major; and moving pictures.

Ben Turpin marries his second wife Carrie LeMieux on February 18, 1907 in Chicago. Three months later he joins the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in the spring of 1907. He also moonlights taking occasional vaudeville jobs. 

November 1907 (dates-?): Turpin appearing at the New Crystal, Chicago, with Martinez and Martinez; and Brandt and Larano.

After two years with Essanay, Ben returns to vaudeville in May 1909.

October 21, 1909: Turpin Appears in Life and On the Picture Screen 
Audiences at Star Were Unaware that “O’Breeun” and “Happy Hooligan” Were the Same Man
Ben Turpin, the original “Happy Hooligan” character who is causing laughs at The Star this week appears in two acts and the audiences are unaware of it.
   Ben, who is a scream of screams, when it comes to entertaining an audience, is shown on the moving picture screen in the picture Breaking Into Society.
    Mr. Turpin re-entered vaudeville for a few weeks and appeared at the Majestic, Chicago, last week. He has signed a contract to pose for the Biograph company at $100 per week.
   The man who has appeared in more moving pictures than any other living man will be recognized by every boy and girl. The actor, as a globe trotter, has appeared in pictures taken in every part of the world. Miles and miles of his pictures are at present being displayed throughout the various film companies throughout the United States. Dixon Telegraph, Dixon, IL

October 28-30 (Thurs - Sat), 1909: Ben doing Happy Hooligan at the Lyric Theatre, 1815 West Broadway, Matton, Illinois, along with Trask and Montgomery, singing, dancing, and talking comedians; Hester Warman, illustrated songstress; two reels of moving pictures. Two shows nightly.

November 29, 1909: Ben Turpin and company at the Orpheum Theatre, Newark, Ohio with The Four Claytons; Von Hoff; Fairchild & Van Buren; and the Orpheumscope.

January 3, 1910: The Ben Turpin Company, comedy tumble act, headlines this week at the Orpheum Theatre, Alliance, Ohio, with Royer & French; Oehian Musical Trio; May Evans; George Frint & Co.; The Jenniers; Clyde McClain; The Gee Jays. Turpin "a scream from start to finish. Business very good."

April 14-17, 1910: Ben playing the Garfield Theater, Chicago, with The Hayden Family; Jack Ripp; The Schillings; The Musical Millers. Turpin earned $15. for his four days work of which .75¢ was paid to booking agent Frank Doyle, according to Charles H. Ryan, Garfield manager. 

May 30-June, 1910: The Murray Theater, Richmond, Indiana features tramp comedian Ben Turpin as Happy Hooligan; Arnold-Felix Co. in the playlet Three Men and a Girl; La Bella Italia Troupe, musicians, singers and dancers; Chester and Grace, singing and dancing; illustrated song and a new moving picture, Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. “Then there is Ben Turpin. Take a look at his photographs to be seen daily in front of the theater and no questions will be asked as to his performance.” “Ben Turpin, the Happy Hooligan comedian, has a grotesque sort of an act. There are many funny stunts pulled off by him, and he was received with much laughter and applause yesterday. The offering is somewhat different from anything seen here for a long time, and it is to be expected that it will prove a favorite.” Also on the bill: Vancello, juggler, equilibrist.

 June 11, 1910:
The presentation of a collection of vaudeville acts such, perhaps, as has never been seen before in one show at the Star Theater, will be given for the last time today. The program has been one with which Muncie theatergoers have been more than enthusiastic, and the popular playhouse has been filled at every performance this week. Preparations are being made by the management for three packed houses today. The big feature act, of course, is Miss Lillian Mortimer and associate players in the big melodramatic sketch, Po’ White Trash Jinny. The production is the biggest thing patrons of the Star have ever seen, and that they have appreciated the offering, is attested in the attendance that have marked the week’s shows. It may not be generally known, but Ben Turpin, the Happy Hooligan comedian, who is on this week’s bill, has been seen by thousands and thousands of people. His services have been secured a number of times to act out motion picture scenes, and he is the original of the film Breaking Into Society, The Baseball Fan, and a number of others which Muncie people will no doubt remember. He leaves Monday for Chicago where he has contracted with the Laemmle Film Service and Manufacturing Company, to act in more films. The Star Press, Muncie, IN, p14

Late June 1910, Ben and “another big act” and 200 feet of first run films on the bill with Sun and Murray’s thousand dollar show, Ye Colonial Septette, at the Orpheum Theater, Zanesville, Ohio.

August 20-26, 1911: Chester Park, Cincinnati: “Ben Turpin, the original Happy Hooligan, will sing and dance his way into the hearts of the audiences.” Also on the bill Spellman’s Royal Troupe of Performing Bears; The Prentice Trio in The Rube and His Two Gals; Henry Swan; John Fay Palmer and Rae Lewis.  

October 30, 1911: Ben & Carrie with George Sidney’s Busy Izzy company, along with Carrie Webber, Frank Gibbons, and John Magee, playing the Bijou, Minneapolis. The Turpin's are soon let go.

March 29, 1912: “Ben Turpin left Chicago last Saturday for St. Louis and plays the Hippodrome in that city this week, with the Hodkins time to follow.” New York Clipper, page 19

May 19 (Mon), 1913: Ben Turpin in the production The Dazzlers playing the Empire Theatre, Indianapolis, Indiana, along with Jean LaRoy, Harry Seiton, Lottie Proctor, Edna Raymond, Natalie Rosselle, and Bobby Harris.

December 5, 1913: Turpin with the High Rollers Burlesque Company playing the Academy of Music, Lebanon, PA along with Dave Meyers, Anna Golden, Ida Stanley, Tiny Allen, Eddie Johnson, and LaNeta, the Dance Queen.

December 8 (Mon), 1913: Turpin with the High Rollers Burlesque Company playing the Grand Opera House, South Bethlehem, PA along with Dave Meyers, Anna Golden, Ida Stanley, Tiny Allen, Eddie Johnson, and LaNeta, the Dance Queen.

January 6 (Tues), 1914: Ben and the High Rollers playing the Majestic Theatre, Harrisburg, PA, with their company of 35 mostly chorus girls. 

February 4-5 (Wed & Thurs), 1914: Ben with High Rollers playing the Mishler Theatre, Altoona, PA

September 20, 1914: Ben Turpin of the Essanay Comedy Company has a mule which he is teaching to count. The mule’s front feet, however, are being trained for this purpose. The comedian has a mysterious respect for the animal’s posterior propellers. Essanay News

October 10 (Saturday), 1914, Ben part of The Fads and Follies musical extravaganza at the Mt. Carmel Opera House, Mt. Carmel, PA, along with Dave Meyers, W.T. Hawley, Belle Travers, Alice Gilbert, Ida Stanley, and beautiful show girls. 

October 16, 1914: Ben Turpin, the comical captain of the Essanay comedy police force, says that having his teeth knocked out by accident is a pleasure compared to spending an hour in the dentist’s chair. In putting on one of Essanay’s late comedies, Sweedie’s Cleanup, Turpin lost four teeth. He went right on with the scene as though nothing had happened. Essanay News

October 16, 1914: Wallace Beery, who takes the part of “Sweedie” in Essanay comedies, got in terribly wrong with Ben Turpin last week when he menaced the life of Ben’s trick donkey, “Pansy.” Beery seems to think that riding at a break-neck speed in his racing car has the same attraction to everybody that it has for himself, and he didn’t think it was fair to cheat the donkey. In producing one of his pictures called Sweedie Takes the Blue Ribbon, he arranged it so that “Pansy” could take a little spin with him, much to Ben’s disapproval. The scene was taken at the Libertyville racetrack and after strapping the animal in the seat beside him, “Sweedie” proceeded around the track at a fifty-mile-an-hour clip, while Turpin looked on breathless. Essanay News

Oct 19, 1914: Turpin once again part of Ducklings Big Show musical extravaganza in Mauch Chunk, PA with Dave Meyers, Hebrew comedian; Ben Turpin, Irish funmaker; Eddie Johnson, the Beau Brummell of burlesque; Anna Golden, prima donna; Ida Stanley, ingenue; Tiny Allen, soubrette; and many beautiful young chorus girls. Their show starts with A Night in Paris and ends with At the Café Rector.

March 20, 1915: Ben Turpin, of the Essanay comedy company, says he came nearer losing his life than any time during his rough and tumble career when taking a scene in Love and Trouble. Turpin was clinging to Wallace Beery’s trouser leg while the two were being dragged along the pavement by an automobile. Beery’s garment gave way, leaving Turpin directly in the path of an auto truck. When the heavy vehicle was brought to a stop, Turpin was under it, but luckily the wheels had not passed over him.
Many of the best scenes are big mistakes from the players viewpoints, sometimes. For instance funny Wallace Beery fell into a fountain while acting for Love and Trouble with his clever side-partner, Ben Turpin, struck his head and was so dazed that he couldn’t get out. It made a great scene for the camera but nearly ended the comedian. Essanay News

Sept 24, 1915: Married Life No Joke
Ben Turpin declares that married life in the photocomedy is anything but one glad, sweet song. In the Essanay comedy, Others Started, But Sophie Finished, his mother-in-law literally mops up the floor with him, while in Snakeville’s Twins he is a poor down-trodded man who is forced by his wife to care for the twins while she washes for a living. Ben never gets a chance to rest. Essanay News

Oct 14, 1916, Turpin one of several movie artists who entertained at the Eastgate Royal Arch chapter, North Broadway and Daly St, Los Angeles this evening. Others included Paddy McQuire, Eddie Barry, L. A. Bowes, Owen Evans, W. L. Rodgers, William Lucifer, Miss Schiller, and the Vogue Studio Quartette.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I am so happy for this post! Great info.
    Ben Turpin was an older brother to my Great grandmother.
    I found a couple of his covers of Life Magazine in Dallas a few years back. I so enjoy reading about him.
    Thanks! ~Tina

  3. Thanks for writing, Tina, and I (we) hope to hear more about your great grandmother.