Thursday, November 09, 2006

Joe Smith (1884-1981) of "Smith and Dale"...I got to meet him at the end of his life.

Smith and Dale late in their career in the 1950's Still doing the Doctor Kronkheit bit! It was as funny then as it was in 1910.

Joe Smith was the one on the left. When I knew him he used a walker but was still moving around and had a lot to say

I was so impressed by his humor...At 97 he was still a hoot...Looking at his grave stone in New York says it all "Booked Solid" an entertainers dream! I was glad to know him for a short while and touch history.

In January 1981

I met Joe Smith. He was a hero to me...Even in those days no one knew who he was..But I did. He was a great vaudevillian and performer from 1898 to the 1970's.

He was in the Avon Comedy Four and in the group Smith and Dale. His real name was Joseph Sultzer...

When I met him He was well in his 90's.... Nearly 97 to be exact....
I knew many of his routines...

"Doctor Kronkheit it hurts when I do this?" "Well, don't do this"...

He had a Victrola in his room at the Englewood actors home. I was able to spend a few days with this great entertainer from the dawn of the 20th century.

He knew everyone...I was so excited when I met him. I have one regret I wish I had a camera. But in 1981 cameras were not everywhere and I was not thinking...But I did get his autograph...I also got to sing with him.....I always remember his voice .....I always will....He had it to the end... To think I was born 59 years after he did his first shows in vaudeville..and I was able to share some time with him...I was very lucky.

I will always remember when we met ..I said to him "you were in the Avon Comedy Four"..He looked at me and said "Kid, no one has said that to me in 50 years!"..

He talked about Billy Murray, Henry Burr, Enrico Caruso, Harry Lauder, George M. Cohan, and so many others of the day.
He talked about making records in the early days. He said it this way "We had to sing into a tube (horn)..and we had to sing at it and loud and not walk away from it."
I remember he played me a number of records on his Victrola and I brought a bunch..... and then for an afternoon I was able to share those sounds with one who was there. So very rare.

The other day I played a record of the Avon Comedy Four from 1914....Almost a century ago it was recorded...and I hear that voice....and I remember an old friend.

The movie "The Sunshine Boys" was based on the group Smith and Dale.

I remember when I asked him for his autograph .... He smiled and signed it for me saying "Joe Smith Avon Comedy Four".... He died 3 weeks later.


Mike Dudnikov said...

Wonderful article and picture of the cleverly marked tombstone. One note, the name of the doctor in their famous skit is an inside joke. Kronkheit is the Yiddish for sickness, and thus we have the unusually named physician Dr. Sickness.

Clarence Jones said...

Thank you so much for sharing your special time with Joe Smith. I still marvel at his & Charlie's timing all these years later.

ACHARLIE said...


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