The Yellow Kid on the Paper Stage
Introduction Origins of the Kid Class Warfare on the Urban Stage Race and Ethnicity Selling the Kid The Death of the Kid
"In at the Death."
"The City Boarder Thinks He Would Like to Mow."
"Another Tragedy."
"Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-wow."
"A Presentation."
"The Brownies Foot Race."
"The Ting Lings Go a Fishing."
Click on images above for a larger view, description, and source information.

Origins of the Kid: Street Arab, Slum Life, and Color Presses


The minstrel show, which reached the height of popularity during 1850-70, caricatured a variety of ethnic types, including Germans, Irish, and blacks, but each ethnic group = s popularity varied over the 1800s. During the 1840s the Irish were the favorite target, at least in the north, A principally because the Irish were a rapidly growing cheap labor force that drive wages down, but also because they were Catholics, who natives feared were Papal agents sent to corrupt the American democratic experiment. @ The typical minstrel show Irishman was a heavy-drinking brawler with a brogue accent, but by the 1850s more agreeable representations appeared, perhaps in part because of the popularity of romantic Irish songs. During the 1870s minstrel show entertainers Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart teamed up to portray Irish ethnic life in New York City: A the team won unprecedented success by weaving an intricate web of ethnic life and conflict with the Irish at the center and blacks, Germans, and Italians intertwined around them. @ The Irish continued to be portrayed in varying manners, usually enforcing stereotypes. For example, one vaudeville act showed drinking during an Irish wake<FN>. Observer Douglas Dilbert noted that Irish acts predominated vaudeville as well, including one favorite of stag audiences during the 1870s-80s, A The Roving Irish Gents. @ But these were generally one act among several, because vaudeville had a kind of diversity of its own making. At Tony Pastor = s 14 th Street theater on October 24, 1881 , eight acts appeared:

A Ella Wesner, who sang English music hall numbers with monologue interpolations. . . . the Leland Sisters in a duet; a singer of musical absurdities, Dan Collier; an Irish comic act consisting of songs, dances and > bumps, = or hard falls, in which Mack sank a hatchet into Ferguson = s skull, protected by a trick wig; Lillie Western = s performances on concertina, banjo and xylophone successively and an acrobatic pantomime act in which Frank McNisk performed splits, rollovers and vaults with a chair, table and a broom. @

By 1896 there were seven vaudeville theaters in New York City, and by 1910, 31 populated the city. In 1897 A Around the World @ featured Ireland (February 14), showing readers plenty of green frocks, a snake strangling a man, and large crowd fighting in the background. The Irish had not beat the stereotypes that classified them yet.

Barth 198.

Toll 175.

Toll 176.

Toll 177.

Gilbert 62. A Irish acts predominated, blackface ran a close second, and Dutch, or German, dialect made an important third. @

Barth 211.


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