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George Mann in a white suit. New York – 1939
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Fun and Frolics
On stage, Barto and Mann were widely known as the "laugh kings" of vaudeville . This series of intimate photos shows that George Mann took this jovial attitude off stage as well, spreading laughter wherever he went. According to his son Brad Smith, George Mann naturally was the life of the party and loved indulging people’s requests to dance, juggle, and tell stories. His contagious sense of humour entertained family, friends, and even future president Ronald Reagan!

This selection from George Mann’s private photo album, spanning the 1920s to the 1940s, shows him and his wife Barbara Bradford dozing off at a Thanksgiving dinner, standing proudly next to an “out of bounds” sign or goofing off with The Three Stooges in Atlantic City.

Always making use of his long limbs for comic effect, we see him “lifting” two friends at the beach and demonstrating his flexibility by placing his leg on Ronald Reagan’s shoulder. Yet there is a sense of wonder in his photographs, in the portrait of a laughing elderly couple or in an elephant caught backstage on the European Barto and Mann tour.