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Althea Barnes


A Massachusetts beauty with a soprano voice and a good sense of rhythm, Althea Barnes worked as a minor vaudeville solo act in the Northeast until Charles Dillingham spotted her and cast her as the Goddess of the Lamp in 1919's "Chin Chin." When interviewed that year, Barnes confessed that she wished to continue in musical theatre, but her singing and dancing lacked sufficient power to keep her on Broadway. She did, however, find a place for herself in the sub-Broadway world of burlesque. She broke into that business at Waldron's Casino in Boston working as the prima donna in Frank Finney's revue. This established her name in the circuits and she spent the early 1920s touring in girlie vehicles such as "Hello, Prosperity," "Running Wild" and "Broadway Brevities." In the mid-1920s she became the leading cutie in Harry Fields' burlesque troupe, the "Sugar Babies." She eventually gravitated to Boston, working with the Grass Widows burlesquers at Waldron's Casino in the early 1930s. She retired circa 1932. David S. Shields/ALS