Herbert Clifton, born in London, England, was and actor noted for his female impersonations. Clifton was publicized as “The Male Soprano” and advertised as having a voice worth one thousand pounds. Clifton traveled to America appearing at the Alhambra Theater in New York in 1910. He portrayed a street urchin and sang "Love Me and the World is Mine", "The Holy City", and "Stop Your Tickling, Jock". Clifton became a sensation with American audiences and after a brief sojourn back to England, he returned to the United States for his second Vaudeville tour.
Portrait of Herbert Clifton
Portrait of Herbert Kinney
This solitary moment captured by Orval Hixon commemorates the Herbert Kinney and Corrine Kalich pantomime and dance act. Kinney sits on a low bench with one leg up and one leg on the floor. He is wearing a short dark tunic belted at the waist and accentuated by a tuille ruff. His brocade knee-length britches are offset by tights and dark slippers. His hair slicked-back hair accentuates makeup typically worn by pantomimes. He sits close to the wall and facing a poster of an illustration of a woman with an art-deco hairstyle. Under the depiction, is the name Kalich.
Portrait of Hixon Family (ii)
Like thousands of other families in the 19th century, the Hixons took advantage of photography as an affordable way to capture images of loved ones. During his own career Hixon contributed to the development of a new, less formal type of studio portrait that emphasized individuality and personality rather than relying on standard props or formal poses. In this photograph, focus is placed on a matriarchal figure surrounded by six children, three girls to the left and three boys to the right. Each figure is poised in a dignified stance, in formal attire and solemn expressions.
Portrait of Hixon's Sister with Friends, Little Blue River
This photograph captures a moment where Hixon's sister and a few of her friends are seated on a small boat on the Little Blue River in Indiana. Some of the women smile for the photograph, others appear serious, relaxed, and earnest. They are all clothed in skirts and dresses in a fashion popular for women at the time. Their sun hats and tousled hair indicate it might have been warm and perhaps humid on the river that day.
Portrait of Ina Alcova Leaping
Ina Alcova was a Vaudeville ballet dancer known as "The Flying Alcova." Rather than the usual vertical portrait, Hixon has created a horizontal portrait of Ina flying through a whimsical landscape. She leaps into the light from the dark through the center of the composition. A bright ray of light shines downward upon her head. The pattern of her skirt echoes the "brushstrokes" of the background.
Portrait of Ina Hayward
As a child actor, Ina Hayward had theatrical debut’s performing in roles such as "Peck Bad Boys" and "Sidewalks of New York." Hayward soon gravitated to variety acts, using her talents as an equestrian, singer and dancer. Hayward performed at the Gayety Theater as it was burgeoning into a house of burlesque. Hayward had resurgence in her theatrical career, appearing in the "Passing Show," "Billie" and "Manhattan Mary." When not on the musical theater circuit, Hayward toured Vaudeville as a singer backed by the Misha Boys, a string and percussion band.
Portrait of Irene Rich
The portrait depicted here is of Irene Rich. Rich was a successful San Francisco real estate agent who received her first movie job as an extra in Mary Pickford’s "Stella Maris" in 1918. She graduated to starring roles in silent melodramas. Rich eventually made the transition to talkies, joining Will Rogers in a series of pictures. She appeared in 21 Warner Bros. movies including "The Champ" in 1931 and John Ford’s "Fort Apache" in 1948. Her career totaled more than 100 screen credits.
Portrait of Jack Laughlin
Jack Laughlin was an actor, director, producer, and stage manager during the vaudeville era. He played in an ensemble in the Broadway musical "Sinbad" (1918) which featured the famed vaudevillian actor Al Jolson. This head and shoulders portrait captures Laughlin's profile as he looks off and into a light which illuminates him against an opaque background. He wears a relaxed white linen shirt and his haircut is precise. He appears pensive in expression and pose as he leans slightly forward, resting his elbows on a surface before him.
Portrait of Jan Rubini
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Jan Rubini was an actor, concert violinist, and composer. He was known for Clancy Street Boys (1943), Bal Tabarin (1952) and Jan Rubini and Orchestra (1937). He stands erect in this photograph in concert attire while holding his violin in ready position. His facial expression appears focused. Although the light that illuminates his face obscures his violin in shadow, one still gets the sense that the expressive potential of this portrait is channeled through his instrument.
Portrait of Jan Rubini in Profile
Originally born in Stockholm, Sweden, Jan Rubini was an actor, concert violinist, and composer. He was known for Clancy Street Boys (1943), Bal Tabarin (1952) and Jan Rubini and Orchestra (1937). Hixon manipulated the background of this portrait with sweeping brushstrokes that fade into solid white along the left-hand side. The white narrows in on Rubini's profile to create a cameo shape emphasized by dark sketched lines echoing from the breast flap of his suit jacket.
Portrait of Janette Hacket in a Peacock Costume
This portrait depicts Janette Hackett, acclaimed dancer of the early twentieth century. Hackett’s first career performance came as a teenager when she appeared in the Shubert’s Passing Show. During this time, under the tutelage of Kitty Doner, Hackett learned to dance. After studying Hawaiian and “Oriental” dance, she went on a five-week tour performance with Nora Bayes and later replaced Billie Shaw in the established act of “Seabury and Shaw”.
Portrait of Janette Hackett
This portrait depicts Janette Hackett, acclaimed dancer of the early twentieth century. Hackett came from a famed family. Her mother, Florence Hackett, was a noted silent film star. Her brother married Blanche Sweet, also of silent film stardom. Hackett’s first career performance came as a teenager, when she appeared in the Shubert’s "Passing Show". During this time, under the tutelage of Kitty Doner, Hackett learned to dance.
Portrait of Janette Hackett with Genie Bottle
This portrait depicts Janette Hackett, an acclaimed dancer of the early twentieth century. Hackett’s first career performance came as a teenager when she appeared in the Shubert’s "Passing Show". During this time, under the tutelage of Kitty Doner, Hackett learned to dance. After studying Hawaiian and Oriental' dance, she went on a five-week tour performance with Nora Bayes and later replaced Billie Shaw in the established act of “Seabury and Shaw”.
Portrait of Joan Archer
The photograph depicts the young woman Joan Archer. She stands in profile showing her from the waist up. She gazes upward toward the left corner of the pictorial space. She is dressed in a lace top with floral motif and wears a glass beaded necklace. A striped scarf with flowers and faux grapes adorn her short hair. Her features are thin and delicate. She holds a small stringed instrument, perhaps a eukalalee. The shadow in the background echoes the petite shape of her knows, lips, and neck of the instrument. A few flowers decorate the upper right hand corner of the photograph.
Portrait of Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford's journey to screen stardom began with a poor childhood moving from Texas to Oklahoma and finally Kansas City where she worked to help support her family while attending school. She won a Charleston contest at a local café in her early teens. Later, Crawford moved to Detroit where she danced under the stage name Billie Cassin. Coincidently, Billie Casssin is the name she was using at the time this photo was taken. It is in Detroit, that she caught the eye of a Hollywood talent scout.
Portrait of Julia Arthur
Julia Arthur, born with the name Ida Lewis, began acting at a young age. She began her professional acting career with the Bandmann Company in 1880 and began going by her industry alias Julia Arthur. After her majorly successful role as the Queen in "The Black Masque" (1892), Arthur was cast in many more leading roles such as Ophelia, Juliet, and Lady MacBeth. Her clout in the industry translates in her dress in this photograph, as she wears a suit coat and narrow suspenders with ornate embellishments.
Portrait of June Elvidge
June Elvidge was a silent film actress with a relatively brief but highly productive career. Elvidge established her character in "The Lure of Women" (1915) as a seductress and was then on primarily cast in roles as vamps or vixens. She starred in over 70 silent films before the sound era, after which her film career declined and resurfaced in a series of vaudeville theater performances before she retired from show business altogether in 1925. In this photograph, Elvidge is presumably nude from the waist up with her torso turned away from the camera.
Portrait of Kill Kare Kouple, John Hennings
John and Winnie Henning were early vaudeville performers who comprised the Kill Kare Kouple. They adopted this name with a popular act they performed together wherein Winnie would play various instruments while John danced his famed "Grasshopper Dance", the two exchanging comedic banter all the while. They toured overseas and with the onset of World War I, John would perform in hospitals and on military bases for servicemen and women.
Portrait of Lawrence Newman
This portrait of Lawrence Newman, depicts a very dapper figure. Newman attired in a very distinguished fashion wears a dark suit accentuated with a light colored pocket square. He wears a white button up shirt, black tie, and dark fedora. Newman is centered in this photograph gazing intently at the viewer, with his right hand resting in his suit pocket. The bright backdrop appears chemically enhanced, creating vertical patterns to the left of Newman. The stark background enhances the darkly garbed figure, resulting in a striking character.
Portrait of Leo F. Forbstein
Leo F. Forbstein was an American film music director and orchestra conductor. He was originally from St. Louis, Missouri and worked with orchestras throughout the state including that of the Newman Theater in Kansas City where he was the principal conductor. He later signed with Warner Bros. as one of the directors of the Vitaphone Orchestra, earning his first screen credit on "The Squall" in 1929. It was with this company that his success in the field began to gain recognition. At the 1937 Academy Awards, he won an Oscar as the head of the Warner Bros.