This is an article from Sig Klein that was originally produced in an issue of Klein’s Bell.
Science has proved that many things run in cycles. One of the outstanding things is styles – particularly in women’s wear.
Men and women have always admired strength – for strength is the ability to do things – so no matter what one accomplishes in a physical sense, if it is done a little better than his contemporaries, he will receive the applause and acclaim of the multitude.
Shortly after the “Strong-Man”, the athlete who manipulated weights, started to fade out of the vaudeville and variety houses, the “Hand-to-hand” balancers enjoyed a stretch of about fifteen years of prosperity. All the leading show places offered these marvelous acts as “openers” and “closers” on their bills, sometimes both on one bill of entertainment. Several of these acts were such great attractions that they would play featured positions on a vaudeville program.
Along about 1925 these acts began to decline in popularity. Booking agents did not even want to “play-ball” with these acts, so they drifted out.
What were all these athletes to do? The American theatre public did not want to see these acts any more, according to the booking agents and theatrical managers, although the American audiences, like the foreign public, applauded these athletes of might and skill.
But booking agents must satisfy managers. Managers remarked that the public wanted comedy, so there same athletes started routines of their acts in comedy fashion. They showed the public the way “beginners” would work at their stunts, with comedy costumes.
These acts were quite popular for a few seasons. However, the dancing acts came into vogue again. Now the athletes had to change again to keep going. “Adagio Acts” came in, first one man and a girl, then two men and a girl, later foursomes were formed – usually three men and a girl. This type of acting was nothing more than dancing plus acrobatic and strength feats. Some of these acts went so far as to be featured in some of New York’s leading musical comedy productions. However, they too saw their day and are passing out of the picture just as fast as they came in.
What is the logical act to take the place of all these again but the “Strong-Man”, for people admire strength and skill. They always will. I predict that the “Strong-Man” will make his bow again – very shortly, I have so much faith in this prediction that I am at the present time training several of my “Star” pupils for the stage.
Last month our feature article concerned my latest “star”, Mr. Charles Treadwell, for whom I anticipate unlimited success as a performer.
An audience demands several things from a “Strong-Man”. He must first of all, look strong; he must have the shape and development and knowledge how to display it. Remember that an audience will recall an athlete’s shape much better than the stunts he performs.