was an American vaudeville
performer who first made his name on stage as a jazz dancer, but later incorporated his stuttering voice to his act and became a popular comedian.
Born Louis Wilson Joseph (Milan, Illinois
, November 4, 1889). In the mid and late 1910s he performed with some of the first jazz
bands in Chicago and New York City, including Tom Brown's Band from Dixieland
, the Original Dixieland Jass Band
, and the Louisiana Five
. He made his Broadway
debut in the Florenz Ziegfeld Follies
in 1918. Frisco was a mainstay on the vaudeville circuit in the 1920s and 1930s.
His popular jazz dance act (called by some the “Jewish Charleston”) was a choreographed series of shuffles, camel walks and turns. It was usually performed to Darktown Strutters’ Ball
. It, or at least a minute or so of it, can be seen in the film Atlantic City (1944). He typically wore a derby hat, and had a king-sized cigar in his mouth as he danced. He often performed in front of a backing danceline of beautiful women wearing leotards, short jackets and bowler hats—and “puffing” on big prop cigars.
Frisco was a compulsive gambler and spent many afternoons while in New York City at the track with actor Jay C. Flippen
, playwright Jerry Devine, actor Martin Gabel
(husband of Arlene Francis
) and Danny Lavezzo (owner of P. J. Clarke's
), and when he began to incorporate stand-up comedy into his act, his humor revolved on tales about his bad luck gambling, speakeasies
, and his constant... Read More