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Chic Sale in “Hello Paris” Charcoal on paper, 22 x 18 in., 1930

Charles “Chic” Sale was a vaudevillian whose specialty was playing “rural parts’ or what we would call country bumpkins. He was successful enough at it that the Shuberts put him in their annual Passing Show revues, and even Ziegfeld put him into one of his Midnight Frolics.

He found fame in 1929 writing The Specialist, a play about “Lem Putt,” an outhouse builder he claimed to have met in Urbana, Illinois. It was a huge hit in vaudeville, and in order to copyright it, he wrote a book of the same name, which sold, according to Time magazine, 650,000 copies, and earned him a celebrity endorsement deal for Ex-Lax, then a relatively new “purgative.”

The Shuberts thought enough of it to make him the star of a new revue, Hello Paris, which opened on Broadway on November 15, 1930, six days after Ben’s drawing of the actor appeared in the Herald Tribune. Unfortunately for the producers, both critics and crowds mildly enjoyed (and endured) Sale’s bathroom humor, but thought it was the high point of the musical revue, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the show. The show only ran 33 performances, and proved to be Sale’s last Broadway appearance.

When the show closed, Sale returned to Hollywood where he had been carving out a career playing backwoods characters in silent shorts. He continued making shorts, performing his most distinguished role as Abraham Lincoln in The Perfect Tribute. Sale’s Lincoln is disappointed by the lackluster reaction to the Gettysburg Address until he meets a dying soldier, who not knowing he’s talking to the President, tells Lincoln how inspiring the speech was. Sale died less than a year after the film was released, although short films he appeared in continued to be released through 1937.

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