The Three Freshmen were an American Vaudeville acrobatic team active during the 1930s and 1940s. The performers were Freddie Reid, Louis Regan, and Ken Carter.The trio sometimes performed as “Regan, Carter & Reid.”
The members of the Three Freshmen began practicing acrobatics recreationally together in Cleveland, Ohio. They impressed a coach at a Cleveland YMCA, who suggested that they develop a professional act. Reid responded enthusiastically: “That’s like drawing a salary for eating candy.”The Freshmen initially performed straight acrobatics, but transitioned to comedic acrobatics after a positive audience reaction to a performance accident when “Ken jumped for Louis’ shoulders, missed, and landed on the rear of his lap.”
The Freshmen performed as “comedy acrobats.”Their act was described as a “knockabout comedy routine,” featuring “unusual hand-balancing feats and acrobatics performed with an easy grace that ma[de] the hard stunts look easy,” “season[ing] their turn with just enough nonsense to give it distinction.” One journalist described the Three Freshmen's performance as follows: The performers “fell all over the stage, bounced and did it again with never an interruption in their patter.” The act included slapstick elements, “knockabout antics, with many falls and face slappings.”
The Freshmen toured widely, not merely across the United States but also in Canada, Europe,and South America. Their performances had various titles, including “Never a Dull Moment” and "Bored of Education." They often performed as the top-billed act in revues. Freshman Freddie Reid sometimes doubled as emcee for the larger performance.
The Freshmen performed with a wide range of celebrities, including Sally Rand,Ronald Reagan, and Red Skelton.
The Freshmen also toured with Benny Davis as part of his “Stardust Revue.”In 1938, they appeared with Davis in the Vitaphone short “Stardust,” one of the movie shorts in the Broadway Brevities series.
The Three Freshmen were favorably received by critics of the period. In 1942, Billboard Magazine reported that the Freshmen “[a]ll but stopped the show” with their “top acro routines” combined with “a lot of clowning and mugging.”Other reviewers opined that the Freshmen’s act was “loaded with thrills and laughs” and “[s]ome of the finest tumbling ever witnessed”; “[s]ide-splitting”; and “st[ole] the show.”
One Billboard reviewer opined that “[t]heir straight acrobatics [we]re very good, and the comedy [wa]s interspersed in just the right proportion to make a well-balanced offering.”The team presented “acro and hand-balancing patterns that [we]re neat, fast, and pretty entertaining. Bring in several bits of comedy which serve as good relief for their straight and stock tricks.”
Penny Singleton was an American actress and labor leader. During her 60-year career, Singleton appeared as the comic-strip heroine Blondie Bumstead in a series of 28 motion pictures from 1938 until 1950 and the popular Blondie radio program from 1939 until 1950. Singleton also provided the voice of Jane Jetson in the animated series The Jetsons from 1962–1963.
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Ferris Taylor was an American film actor and vaudeville performer.
Judith Evelyn was an American-Canadian stage and film actress who appeared in around 50 films and television series.
Patricia Ellis was an American film actress of the 1930s.
June Preisser was an American actress, popular in musical films during the late 1930s and through the 1940s, many of which capitalized on her skills as an acrobat.
Charles Emmett Vogan was an American actor with almost 500 film appearances from 1934–54, making him, along with Bess Flowers, one of the most prolific film actors of all time.
Phyllis Kennedy was an American film actress.
Frederick Roger Imhof was an American film actor, vaudeville, burlesque and circus performer, sketch writer, and songwriter.
See also Eleanor Bull
Kate Murtagh was an American actress and singer-comedian, a native of Los Angeles, California.
For the television series of the same name, see The Silver Theatre.
Alice Dorothy Margaret Frost was an American actress. An inaugural member of Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre on radio and the stage, she later performed the role of Pamela North on the radio series Mr. and Mrs. North for nearly 10 years.
Charley Foy was an American actor of both the vaudeville stage and film. Son of Eddie Foy Sr., he was one of the famous "The Seven Little Foys", the seven children of the senior Foy, who joined him on stage in vaudeville. After beginning his career in Vaudeville, he had a film career which spanned 40 years, although he was only truly active for seven of them, from 1936 through 1943.
Abby Berlin was best known as a director of feature films and television productions. He began on Broadway and Vaudeville as part of a comedy team with Ken Brown in the 1920s. By 1939 he had moved to Hollywood, where he worked as an assistant director, before getting his opportunity to helm his own films with 1945's Leave It to Blondie. He was married at least twice, his first wife, Jean, committed suicide after arguing with him; his second wife was B-movie actress Iris Meredith.
Joy Hodges was an American singer and actress who performed on radio, on film, on Broadway, and with big bands.
Templeton Fox was an American actress best known for her work in old-time radio.