1891 Photo American Extravaganza Company, Eddie Foy, Cast of Sinbad
Some of the most amazing things you find don’t seem so amazing until you spend hours researching them. This Vaudeville 1891 Sinbad photo is a great example of just that. This comes from the Eddie Foy III collection and is a cast photo featuring his Grandfather, Eddie Foy Sr, famous Vaudeville star, in the center. That’s all I knew about it when I first saw it as his grandfather is easily recognizable.
Charles K French, Vaudeville
You could tell this is an original photograph with original frame. The backing was gone but there was still one name readable on it: “Cha. K. French”. As I started digging, I found that Charles K. French was a Vaudeville performer and was most well known for his silent film roles in the 1910s as usually an older gentleman. This photo was much older than that and there wasn’t much info on Mr. French during earlier time periods, so this became a bit baffling. I started researching Mr. Foy’s Vaudeville and Broadway runs found in his biography and through trial and error, came across the production of ‘Sinbad’ in 1891.
Sinbad, Trading Cards, and Chicago
After doing research on this production, I found some old trading cards that had pictures of the characters from that show (Sinbad). Some looked very similar to people in this picture. Thinking there was a connection, I started to research the American Extravaganza Company of Chicago, Illinois which was the group Eddie Foy was signed to at the time. After examining some old playbills of his shows, I noticed that Charles K. French was a stagehand for the production! That was the ‘Connection Point’ that helped tie this picture to its history for me. I started to realize that the picture had some cast members in costume and some in street clothes. It must have been taken during rehearsal or in between performances.
I was able to identify most of the people in the photo and created a chart to show you who’s who. I believe this is the earliest photo of Charles K. French known to exist regarding his professional career, but I’m not certain of that. I do believe very strongly that his photo is a one of a kind with none others existing. It is a very treasured piece in excellent condition for its age.
If anyone can add information to this piece, it would certainly be welcome! I would love to see it go to a museum maybe in Chicago for public viewing. It is available for sale on my Ebay site and you can see it here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/401534700385