Rockwell Files: When the Dancing Stopped

If you hadn’t already picked up that the dancers are broke, Rockwell adds his standby symbol of an out-turned pocket.

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Rockwell’s cover for the June 12, 1937, issue captures a moment in America’s entertainment history. Dolores and Eddie, a dance team from vaudeville, sit dejectedly on their trunk, victims of changing tastes. Live theater was passé. Motion pictures had arrived and now there were even “talkies.”

Once a mainstay of popular American entertainment, vaudeville was being crowded off stage. The end had begun five years earlier when Broadway’s Palace theater — the pinnacle of vaudeville venues — featured its last two-a-day show.

The following day, it began showing motion pictures. It was the fate in store for many of vaudeville’s 15,000 theaters.

Rockwell captures the spirit of performers without options. Eddie has already checked the ads in Variety, and Dolores has already dug for money in her purse with her gloveless hand.

The pair must have known success once. Judging from their trunk, they travelled a lot when the name “gaiety” wasn’t ironic.

This article is featured in the September/October 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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  1. I’m sorry these two were victims of changing times and tastes. I bet their act was really good. I’d like to think they still got more gigs, perhaps on the radio, and could once again put the happiness back into gaiety. Getting in touch with Burns and Allen (if possible) could only have been to the good for Delores and Eddie here.


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