Forget Milton Berle! Forget Fanny Brice! Forget the Ritz Brothers! They don't hold a candle to me, because I'm the Toast of Vaudeville! I've done it all—crooned with Cantor, joked with Jolson, and tap-danced at the Palace with Gypsy Rose Lee.
I'm a headliner, a juggler, a ventriloquist and a tenor all wrapped up into one showbiz colossus. First, I warm 'em up with a little acrobatic derring-do, followed by an old Irish ditty my Mama used to sing to me, then I send 'em rolling in the aisles with a little seltzer down the pants! Just throw on the spotlights and grab onto your seats, because you ain't seen nothin' yet!
Whether I'm doing one of my Gilbert & Sullivan medleys, riding my golden unicycle, or taking a custard pie in the puss, you can bet the house will be packed to the rafters. Why? Because the name Benny Fielding means one thing: non-stop entertainment!
Nobody leaves my show unsatisfied. I've done all the big venues—the Hippodrome, the Rialto, the Colonial Theater in Boston—and wherever I've been, the Fielding name is legend. They can't help but recall my trained seal act, my bawdy limericks, or my scandalous fan dance.
Eddie Foy, eat your heart out!
After my show, you won't catch anyone throwing rotten tomatoes or threatening me with "the hook." When that audience sees me up there on bended knee, dressed in my red-and-white striped suit, clutching my straw hat and singing "Sweet Adeline," a shower of roses crosses the proscenium arch and the audience's tears of joy are punctuated by thunderous applause.
Some people say Vaudeville is dead. They say the moving pictures and the phonograph cylinder are putting live shows out of business. They say that one day, people will be able to enjoy high-quality entertainment in their own homes. Well I say fiddlesticks!
Nothing can replace the song-and-dance man as the czar of entertainment. Who wants to pay to stare at a wall when the finest names in showbiz are performing right next door for 25 cents? It's the Harry Houdinis, the Edgar Bergens and the Sophie Tuckers who are keeping burlesque alive and well in the '90s!
Why, just yesterday, Mr. George M. Cohan sent me a telegram thanking me for including his numbers in my act. I said, "George, if you'd just stop writing all those patriotic songs and write a nice love ballad for me, you and I might become the Wizards of Tin Pan Alley!" I was joking, of course, because it's George's songs that are helping our fighting men in the trenches of Europe.
No, friends, Vaudeville is as timeless as the minstrel show, as precious as the can-can, and as ever-changing as the one-liners of Henny Youngman. And as long as I, Benny Fielding, have anything to say about it, the live stage show will stay aloft longer than the plates in my famous plate-spinning routine.