Gumby's People > Williams and Walker
Gumby moved to New York around 1905, finding "more freedom of action [than he] had ever known before." As he recalled, "I became familiar with all of the best shows and most famous actors on Broadway, and I formed the habit early of enthusiastically collecting all the playbills, pictures, and clippings I could find about my favorites."
Given the timing of Gumby's arrival, it is hardly surprising that the musical and comedic team of Williams and Walker would be an early target of his enthusiasm. One of the premier stage acts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Williams and Walker helped to create modern American musical theater through shows like Sons of Ham, Bandanna Land (see above), and In Dahomey. The last of these titles became the first full-length show with an all-black cast to play on Broadway when it opened in 1903. After George Walker died in 1911, Bert Williams went on to become the first and only black headliner to perform in a production of the Ziegfeld Follies. Bandanna Land, the subject of the above pages, was the team's last production. It premiered in 1908 at the Majestic Theatre (a program from which Gumby saved). On the cover of the production's libretto pictured above (see: "Williams and Walker," p. ), Williams's portrait is on the bottom left while Walker's is on the right.