Friday, October 23, 2020


Classic Hollywood and entertainment is full of talent that never quite made it. One such entertainer was Georgie Price. Price was an American vaudeville singer and comic who performed in Vitaphone shorts in the 1920s and 1930s. Born in 1901, Price began as a child performer in public places such as barrooms and streetcars, before winning amateur competitions. At six years old, he so impressed opera singer Enrico Caruso that he performed with Caruso in a benefit concert for a deceased police officers family. It was Price, as a vaudeville child star, who in 1909 introduced the famous Edwards-Madden song "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" in Gus Edwards' revue School Boys and Girls. As a boy performer he also appeared on Broadway with girl actor Lila Lee, later a well-known film actress. As an adult professional he drew comparisons to Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor. As a recording artist, he had hit songs with "Morning Will Come" (1923), "Barney Google" (1923), "California, Here I Come" (1924) and "Isn't She the Sweetest Thing?" (1925), all for Victor Records.

When he graduated to long pants he was famously hired by the Shuberts as a replacement for Jolson, and then stiffed by them when Jolson returned to the fold (although Price managed to serve out the balance of his contract). He starred in big time vaudeville, becoming a staple of the Palace throughout the 20s and early 30s. A bitter dispute with Shubert theatre magnate, Jacob J. Shubert, caused Price to be blacklisted by other theater and movie producers. Shubert had originally hired Price with the promise to turn him into a major headliner, but then reneged and in turn refused to fulfill the financial obligations on Price's contract.

In 1934 Georgie left show business in 1934 to become a stock broker. He always kept a hand in, though, serving as president of AGVA (the American Guild of Variety Artists), and making the occasional appearance at benefits and on television.

The late Ron Hutchinson of the Vitaphone Project had the good fortune to meet Price’s daughter and has been generous enough to share his account:

“I became interested in [Price] after hearing the soundtrack to his 1929 Vitaphone short Don't Get Nervous. It is set in the actual Brooklyn studios and has Georgie arriving there to make a short. He is very nervous and tells the director, Bryan Foy (of the Seven Little Foys) that he needs a real audience in order to perform. Foy obliges, and Georgie sings several songs in a rich voice that reminds you of a combination of Jolson and Cantor. In the early 1990’s we were able to get the short restored and seen again by audiences.

I tracked down Georgie’s daughter, Penny Price, in New Hope, PA and was able to let her see this short as well as several others Georgie made in the thirties. She was thrilled, and shared many stories of her father. Penny has long performed on the stage in musical comedy, and her brother Peter made several films in the fifties, including The Great Caruso.

His daughter told me a great story about Georgie’s friend Bert Wheeler. After Georgie died in 1964, Bert came by to offer Penny his condolences. Bert was going through financially lean times. As he turned to leave, Bert asked if he might have one of Georgie’s suits, as they were the same size. Then he asked for his shoes. Penny said that by the time Bert left, he even took Georgie’s underwear!”

Georgie Price, a footnote in the history of musical theater, died in New York City on May 10, 1964 of a heart attack. His daughter Penny died in 2016 at the age of 82...


  1. Here's part of a CBS radio program hosted by Georgie Price:

  2. As a i nt 1950's I spent the summers in Islip, New York and worked on the ferry boats that went from Bay Shore, New York to Fire Island. Georgie Price had a lovely home near the Bay Shore ferry dock. One day I stopped by his house, rang the doorbell and he answered. Graciously he signed an autograph for me. I suppose he wound up in Bay Shore because it was the one-time home of Vitaphone Pictures. The building has been preserved and is now a condo apartment. I still have the autograph.