Posted on 07/17/2013

Photo taken on March  1, 1903

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Vaudeville Act
Larkins & Patterson
John Larkins
Dora Patterson
circa 1903
John Larkins [1879-1936]

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Larkins & Patterson

Larkins & Patterson
Advert for A Trip to the Jungles starring John Larkins and Dora Patterson of Larkins and Patterson's Big Colored Company. Erie, PA, circa 1903

Larkins was married to dancer/singer Ida Larkins and toured with her at the beginning of his stage career as members of the Champion Cake Walkers Company (1898), then with Boom's Diamond Company for one season (1900), of which he was principal comedian and stage manager. Ida left the show to become a 'coon singer' and buck dancer with P.G. Lowery's Band and Vaudeville Company (1901) and next joined the Black Patti Troubadours in 'A Filipino Misfit' as Miss O So Ot ("Oh So Hot"), in what was apparently "a warm number," (1902).

John remained with Boom's Company until 1902, performing with a new partner (photographed above), Dora Patterson; and as Larkins & Patterson, they costarred in a show that he wrote titled A Trip to the Jungles (which toured in 1902/03), after which the title was changed to A Trip to Africa (1904).

He joined the Black Patti Troubadours in 1907 while continuing to perform in vaudeville as a single song and dance comedy act and touring in the off-seasons with his own troupe, the "Jolly" John Larkins Musical Comedy Company (mid -1900s/1910s).

With the Troubadours, he played the title role in his original sketch, A Royal Coon (1907); and the following year, he revised his musical comedy A Trip to Africa as a starring vehicle for Sissieretta (Black Patti), of which he was also the leading comedian. This show played for several seasons (1908 - 1911).

With the end of vaudeville he successfully transitioned to the movie screen in 1931 playing mostly subservient roles oftentimes uncredited. His last role, before his death in 1936, was in MGM's The Great Ziegfield.

Profiles of African American Stage Performers and Theatre People 1816 - 1960 by Bernard L Peterson