1913, Lime Kiln Club Field Day
Bert Williams died in 1922. The New York Herald ran an editorial a few days later that took note of his singular popularity:
He leaves no successor among the members of his own race. There have recently been many successful negro comedians. Numerous as they are, none has attained the unique eminence of Williams. He was a black star in the theatrical firmament of this country if ever there was one. The task of carrying on the work of the blackface funny man will hereafter be the white comedian's burden.
Herbert S. Renton, a collector of theatre ephemera who frequently wrote letters to the editor, readily agreed. A reader, identified only by initials, ostensibly black, was provoked enough by this ridiculous idea (and its defense) to join in the fray. Renton had a habit of responding.
“Bert William’s Stage Act,” editorial, New York Herald, March 7, 1922: 10.
Renton, Herbert S., “The Blackface Comedian: Art of the Late Bert Williams and of White Men Compared, New York Herald, March 11, 1922: 10.
H.A.W., “Colored Comedians: A Denial That They Can Be Imitated Exactly,” New York Herald, March 16, 1922: 10.
Renton, Herbert S., “The Stage Negro: White Men Who Have Been Admirable as Black Face Comedians,” New York Herald, March 23, 1922:10.