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Carrie Perkins


A vaudevillian with a trim body and a smart tongue, Carrie Perkins plied both the visual and verbal dimensions of entertainment. She wore some of the tightest gowns in vaudeville, but it was her urban girl wit that won her a ticket to Broadway. She made her theatrical name in Garrick's burlesque "Thrilby" (1895). Not sufficiently beautiful of face to be a lead, she played the sharp girl in a series of Broadway shows that explored feminine audacity: "Jack and the Beanstalk" (1898), "Hotel Topsy Turvey" (1899) "The Casino Girl" (1901), "Sargent Kitty" (1903), Edward Rice's "The Merry Shop Girl's" (1905), "A Broken Idol" (1909), winding up with Julian Eltinge's 1911 tour of "The Fascinating Widow."

More a burlesque princess than a burlesque queen, and more handsome than talented, Carrie Perkins emerged as a tights girl/boy in the Henry Dixey vehicle, "Adonis." She then found a place in many of the light entertainments of the era, always as a featured dancer/singer/actress in support of a star. She rarely won critical notice for her artistry, even in 1894's "The Isle of Champagne."

In 1895 she affiliated with Edward Rice, playing one of his "Merry Shop Girls." She supported Eddie Foy in "The Wild Rose" (1902), and enjoyed notice in "Sergeant Kitty" (1903) and Henry Savage's comic opera "The Shogun" (1904). Sometimes her project choices were not astute. She signed onto, for instance, Van Alstyne's musical, "The Broken Idol" (1909), a farce with an incoherent plot that died an early death. She quickly transferred into the New Amsterdam theater's summer entertainment, "Girlies," before gravitating into the company of drag performer Julian Eltinge, and playing in his greatest hit, "The Fascinating Widow" (1911). When not in a stage show, she played comic skits in vaudeville. David S. Shields/ALS