Tony Pastor

From Academic Kids

For Tony Pastor the saxophonist and bandleader, see Tony Pastor (bandleader).


Antonio Pastor, born May 28, 1837 in Brooklyn, New York, United States died August 26, 1908 in Elmhurst, New York was an entertainer and the person who invented vaudeville.

Tony Pastor embarked on a show business career at a very young age, obtaining a job singing at P.T. Barnum's New York Museum. During the next few years he worked in minstrel shows, the circus business, and as a comic singer in variety revues. Eventually Pastor began to produce variety shows, presenting an evening of clean fun that was a distinct alternative to the bawdy shows of the time. In 1865 Pastor opened Tony Pastor's Opera House in Manhattan in partnership with minstrel show performer, Sam Sharpley, whom he later bought out. The same year he organized traveling minstrel troupes who toured the country between April and October of each year. With shows that appealed to women and children as well as the traditional male audience, his theater and touring companies quickly became popular with the middle classes and were soon being imitated.

In 1881, Pastor leased the Germania Theatre on Fourteenth Street in New York City that became widely know as Tony Pastor's Theater. He alternated his theater's presentations between operettas and family-oriented variety shows, creating what became known as vaudeville. His theater featured performers such as Ben Harney presenting a new style called "ragtime" as well as other up-and-coming talents such as Lillian Russell, May Irwin and George M. Cohan.

Tony Pastor died in 1908 and was interred in the Cemetery of the Evergreens, in Brooklyn, New York.

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