ONE THOUSAND WAYS TO MAKE FORTUNE – CHAPTER XXIV.
FORTUNE IN AMUSEMENTS.
Fortune in Fun–Salary of a “Star”–Prosperityin “A Parlor Match”–A Pianist Who Got $2,500 a Night–How to Get a Start on the Stage–A New Field for the Amusement Artist–Humor and Hard Cash in Shadowgraphs–What Max O’Rell Earned on the Lecture Platform–Fortune in the Traveling Show–The Greatest Fortune Burning in the United States–Fortunes in Fireworks.
People who cater to public amusements are so many, their entertainments so diverse and their talents so unequal, that no general statement can be made about the remuneration for this kind of work. There are “stars” at the top who receive from $200 to $1,000 per night, and there are “mediocres,” or worse, at the bottom who barely eke out a living at $7 a week. No one should enter this field unless his talent is equal to his ambition. Here are a few of the prizes taken before the footlights:
867. THE FARCE COMEDYEvans and Hoey purchased a comedy entitled “A Parlor Match.” Mr. Evans says: “We played it over 3,000 times, and at a rough estimate I think we must have cleared from $300,000 to $400,000.”
868. INSTRUMENTAL CONCERTSThe possibilities of dollars in instrumental music are seemingly unlimited. Celebrated pianists have received almost fabulous sums. Rubinstein’s six months’ tour in America is said to have netted a profit of $60,000, and a second engagement was made for him at the rate of $2,500 per night.
869. STAGE STARSThe stage, like every other profession, is crowded at the bottom, but has room at the top. Beginners seldom get more than $15 per week and commonly they receive much less. Leading people in road companies get $50 per week. Stars receive from $100 to $500 per night. Madame Celeste made $50,000 in this country. Edwin Forrest never received less than $200 per night. Edwin Booth sometimes played for $500 per night.
870. POPULAR LECTURERSThese are richly rewarded for their hour or two of entertainment of an audience. John B. Gough’s price was $200 per night. Henry Ward Beecher, Wendell Phillips, and Bayard Taylor averaged the same figures. The receipts for Professor Tyndall’s thirty-five lectures in this country were $23,100; and Max O’Rell earned $5,290 by his lectures during a single week in Johannesburg, South Africa. Says a magazine note: “Fortune-making’s most promising field is that of a popular lecturer.”
871. HAND SHADOWSHere is something new: Some amusement artists in England have conceived the idea of entertaining audiences with hand shadows. A candle, an oil lamp, or an arc light is used, and the beam of light passes through a small circular opening upon a sheet of ticket-writer’s holland. Sometimes a pipe or a piece of cardboard is used to heighten the effect, but for the most part the artist employs his hands only. With diligent practice the most comical effects, such as “Dressing for a Party,” “The Dog Fight,” etc., can be produced. Mr. Devant, the originator of the shadowgraph, convulses his audiences and reaps large profits for himself. America, where the humorous is quickly and keenly appreciated, offers a large field for this new kind of entertainment.
872. MUSEUM AND CIRCUSThe vocation of the popular showman is a highly paying one. It appeals to two of the most powerful motives of human nature–the desire to be amused and amazed. P. T. Barnum made and lost two or three fortunes; Bailey, the successor of Barnum, and Dan Rice have also conducted highly successful shows. Dime museums in large cities often pay vast sums for curiosities and monstrosities, and still conduct a very profitable business.
873. GYMNASTSAthletes need to begin early in life in order to acquire suppleness of muscle. There is no profession that demands a severer training or regimen. A vast number of performers are constantly traveling through the country. Engagements with companies are made on exhibition of skill. Managers are always on the alert for something new. Some equestrians receive as high as $500 a week for self and horses; clowns often receive $100; rope walkers, $50.
874. OPERA SINGERSVoice, gesture, grace, and beauty are the four qualities of success in the opera artist. Those who succeed receive princely sums for their services. Mario got $400 a night in Philadelphia. Tamberlik every time he sung a high note demanded $500. Piccolomini cost her manager over $5,000 a month. Madame Perer received $14,000 for the season. Genius and hard work are nowhere better paid than in the opera.
875. MIMIC BATTLESPain’s fireworks at Manhattan Beach, reproducing the “Capture of Manila” and “The Fall of Santiago,” have been immensely popular, sometimes drawing crowds numbering 10,000. A thousand dollars’ worth of fireworks and _papier maché_ are burned in a single night during the season, but enormous as are the expenses we are informed that the proprietor seldom makes less than $500 a night. There is no patent on these exhibitions, and they may be repeated or imitated anywhere. A man who dares “burn money” in this way, or a stock company where the individual risk would be comparatively small, exhibiting these fireworks in all our great cities, would certainly reap handsome gains. Especially at this time, while the fervor of patriotism and the glow of enthusiasm over our recent victories are still at white heat, the enterprise could not fail to be paying. We would almost guarantee that a company which could set up as brilliant an exhibition as Pain’s in fifty leading cities would realize twenty-five per cent. on the investment.
876. THEATRICAL ENTERPRISESRunning a theater is risky business; it has its ups and downs, and the downs are as swift as the ups. Oscar Hammerstein, who has just lost all by an unsuccessful venture, says that once during the short period of four weeks he made $60,000. Daly, Frohman, Lester Wallack, and many others, have grown rich in the theatrical business.
877. DANCERSMembers of the vaudeville are not so well paid as in many other arts for amusing the public, but special dancing “artists” sometimes receive almost fabulous sums. Famous dancers have received as high as $10,000 in the course of a season. Freda Maloff, the Turkish dancer, has just returned from the Klondike, where in the course of a few months she has made $62,000 in her profession, the miners literally showering her with nuggets.
878. MOVING PICTURESThis latest and most popular form of amusement is coining money for the owners of the cinematograph, biograph, vitascope, or by whatever other name the instrument is called which causes the scenes portrayed on canvas to be instinct with moving life. The charge for an evening’s service is commonly $50.
879. BAND PLAYERSBand players get from $1,000 to $5,000 a year, according to proficiency. Sousa, the leader of the celebrated band by his name, received $6,000 a year. There are always openings for good band players.
880. IMPERSONATORSDickens will probably always be the great resort for this class of entertainers. Of seven leading impersonators now on the platform, four portray his characters almost exclusively. It is a fine field for the elocutionist who has talents for mimicry. The average charge is $25 per night.
881. ANCIENT BURLESQUESThere are at least three forms of this amusement which are having great success. They are “The Village Choir,” “The Old Folks’ Concert,” and “Aunt Polly Bassett’s Singing School.” The last named has often cleared $100 in a single evening.
882. RECITERSReciters and readers, from Dickens to Hall Caine, have always been popular. The highest paid are well-known authors, who read from their own writings. Charles Dickens seldom received less than $200 an evening. But the majority are glad to get engagements at from $10 to $25 a night.
883. BELL RINGERSThe discovery that many objects in nature could be made to give forth musical sounds has vastly widened the field of entertainment. Rocks, steam pipes, tumblers, and dinner bells have been drafted into service, the last named with notable success. In one company four young ladies have charmed the public ear with the melody of a score of hand bells. They have reaped rich harvests all over the country.
884. MAGICIANSThis field has been somewhat overworked of late years, but the phenomenal success of such men as Blitz, the ventriloquist, and Hermann, the prestidigitator, show the possibilities in this line. Both these men bewitched the public for a whole generation, and made great fortunes.
885. STORY TELLERSThis is a late revival of a form of amusement as old as the times of Homer. Those succeed best who are authors as well as elocutionists, making their own story and telling it fresh from the heart. We predict that this kind of entertainment is going to have a great run, and persons who have talent in this line will do well to furbish up their weapons.
886. CARTOONISTSCartoonists and crayonists receive high figures for their work, as this kind of talent is rare. The chief of this class of artists received from $50 to $150 per night. Since his death, no worthy successor has been found, but there are many young fingers that are clever with chalk, and there is room for more. It is a very inviting field for persons who have the right gifts.