Friday, August 30, 2013

FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER AT THE EMPIRE BURLESQUE THEATER


The team with a name that sounds like a cheap box wine did their entertaining in the 1950s. Bartlett and King were a burlesque act, that much we know, thanks to Jim Linderman at Vintage Sleaze (see link on sidebar), we also know that the male partner of the duo (let's just say it's King, since the main attraction -- the lady -- usually had her name up front, right?) remained hidden from the audience during their show by wearing a costume and mask.



In 1957 B&K performed shows with titles that were befitting of a man in a monster suit like Lady and the Gorilla and Beauty and the Beast. Earlier, in 1952 they were appeared in a short film produced by Broadway Roadshow Production called Rasputin and the Princess (do you see a recurring theme here?).

Also in 1952 they starred in another Broadway Roadshow Productions short film, apparently based on their live act entitled, Monster and the Maiden. What will interest MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD readers is the outfit that is worn by King, and in particular, the mask. If I'm not mistaken, it is a Don Post Frankenstein mask that had been popular since its introduction by Don Post Studios in the late 1940s.

In 1955, B&K enlisted the aid of famed New Orleans photographer Myles de Russy to produce a series of publicity still for them. By some minor miracle, these very obscure and arcane bits of monster memorabilia have survived the Dustbins of Time. Without these, even speculation about this team and their "monster" act would be near-impossible.




The film and show must have been quite popular since a 1955 ad for the Empire Burlesque Theater in Newark, New Jersey, shows that they were still performing their Monster and the Maiden routine. The act evidently continued as late as 1957.



As for the Don Post Frankenstein mask, it was sold in numerous markets and enjoyed a long-lasting popularity for many years. Most famously, James Warren wore a Don Post Frankenstein mask and posed with Miss Marion Moore on the cover of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #1 in 1958.





Now, look real close at the photo of Warren & Moore and Bartlett & King and tell me if you notice anything. Could the publicity still of an earlier burlesque act have been the inspiration for the cover image of the first monster magazine?

The venerable SOMETHING WEIRD VIDEO has somehow found the Bartlett & King Monster and the Maiden film and include it on one of their burlesque compilation DVD's. Here is a YouTube clip:




EXTRA! Here are a few photos of Rita Cortes, the Brazilian Bombshell seen on the same venue with Bartlett & King at the Empire Burlesque Theater.


1 comment:

DRB in Karloffornia said...

How do you find all this stuff???? I am very glad you put in the time and effort to do it.

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