Showing posts from February, 2018

Marie Shannon

ca. 1906 On Sunday, July 18, 1909, the vaudeville juvenile quartet the “Four Shannons” left Louisville on the way to their next performance in Owensboro, KY. As the train pulled out of the station two young girls sprang from their car to the platform and ran through the waiting room to a local theatrical boarding house. The escapees were Elizabeth Shannon, age 17, and her older sister Marie, age 22. Two days later Elizabeth, considered a minor, was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct preferred by her mother. Over the next two days, the case played out in court with allegations of cruelty on the part of the mother and wildness and disobedience on the part of the daughter. Faced with spending time in juvenile detention until her 18th birthday, Elizabeth relented and returned with her mother to Owensboro. Marie declared she would have nothing further to do with her mother and left for Chicago to find work for the rest of the season. So, began the career of Marie Shannon –


Billed as the “Female Houdini,” Shee claimed in her publicity that she performed a straitjacket escape while dangling upside down 500 feet in the air from New York’s Times Building. While this may or may not be true, the highlight of her vaudeville act was doing a straitjacket escape while suspended 10 feet above the stage. The first reference found to Shee was her tour of the Keith Circuit starting in January of 1920.  Her act could include escaping from chains and handcuffs, rope ties and a locked mail bag. Norwich Bulletin , Feb. 27, 1920 In 1920 she joined the National Vaudeville Artists (NVA), so this may have been her first time performing in vaudeville. The NVA was a “union” of performers controlled by Edward Albee, the manager of the Keith Circuit. If a performer wanted to tour the major circuits, it was a good idea to become an NVA member. Flint Journal , May 25, 1922 For the next few years she toured as a single act playing big and small time vaudeville and s