About 15 years ago I first learned that Helen Keller performed in vaudeville. As I discuss in There Plant Eyes, I was moonlighting as a performance artist with the Art Stars of the Lower East Side when I stumbled upon the delicious fact that Helen and Annie did the vaudeville circuit for 4 years (1920-24), I instantly knew it would… Read more
Helen Keller startled vaudeville audiences from 1920 to 1924 with her lefty politics. According to Dorothy Herrmann’s biography, Keller’s answers to current events questions from the audience such as “What do you think of President Harding?” had planned zingers such as “I have a fellow feeling for him. He seems as blind as I am.” For my title, I take… Read more
On to the black stage she steps. You believe you hear her cane tap tapping, then stop. Papers rustle. Suddenly you are blinded by a brilliant light. The light, emanating from a lamp on her head like that of a miner, creates dark smudges of her facial features. Under the brilliant light and shadow face, you see what appears to… Read more
What is Miss Keller’s age?
There is no age on the vaudeville stage.
Does Miss Keller think of marriage?
Yes. Are you proposing to me?
Does talking tire you?
Did you ever hear of a woman who tired of talking?
Do you close your eyes when you sleep?
I guess I do, but I never stayed… Read more
[“The Play World” is Chapter 13 of Midstream: My Later Life, 1929, in which Keller describes her experience of vaudeville and the circumstances that led her to it. I lightly edited and hyperlinked it from a scan of the original.]
THE picture was not a financial success. My sense of pride mutinies against my confession; but we are the kind… Read more
Please visit TheStarofHappiness.com to learn about my solo show and all things Helen!
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