at the Blank Street house I plunged through
the crowd and, opening the door, said:
"Has the Virginia Judge arrived with the
Keatons yet?" The landlady said:
"Yes." I asked her: "Is there
any way I can get rid of this mob? We have
tipped them twice." She says, "I'll
show you how we do it over here," and
she commenced to smash. I was there with her.
The best we got in return was "Thank
|The elegant Victorian fašade of
Queens House, Leicester Square. Built in 1897
as the Queens Hotel, this is where the
Keatons stayed (joining Walter C. Kelly)
after one night around the corner at the De
Provence Hotel, now demolished. Photo
courtesy Peter W. Burrowes, 1999. Used by
the time I had paid the bookkeeper his salary
I was out $10.
|Then I discovered we were living
in a questionable place. Kelly had been told
it was all right and that it would do for the
next day I called on Alfred Butt at the Palace. I
found an elegant big theatre, standing alone and
occupying an entire block. I saw nineteen acts
billed, but no Keaton! Not even a photo out. The
smallest salaried act on the program was billed, but
not the Keatons. I called on Damar, the stage
manager, and asked him if the Keatons were playing at
the Palace. He said: "Absolutely. Aren't you one
of them?" I said: "Yes. Are you bringing us
here on a wild goose chase? Are you ashamed to bill
us?" He said he had no time to argue.
Works But Father" was one of Joe
Keaton's favorite songs; it was written by
Jean Havez (later one of Buster's gagmen in
Hollywood), and published by Fred Helf and a
partner. The performer, Lew Dockstader, may
well be related to Bill Dockstader, who gave
Buster his first break in the theater. Image
courtesy Rare Book, Manuscript and Special
Collections Library, Duke University, North
Carolina. Used by permission. To view a
larger version, visit their website at: http://odyssey.lib.duke.edu/
I called to rehearse. Fred Helf had arranged a
nice set of orchestrations for Mr. Fink's* (Palace)
orchestra, and Fred also fixed me up a presentation
speech. Fred said before I sailed: "Joe, there's
nothing like getting in right. I have arranged a
beautiful overture for Mr. Fink, and when you are
called to rehearse, take your music and mind, take
your hat off and approach the leader. You know, Mr.
Fink is a stockholder in the Palace and has more
influence than Butt."
|Here is the speech:
"What has that got to do with the act?"
said Mr. Fink.