Aug 08 2017

Audio: “The Little Chauffeur” from the 1906 Broadway Show “The Vanderbilt Cup”

After the opening of the 1906 Broadway hit "The Vanderbilt Cup", Billy Murray, known as the Denver Nightingale, recorded this version of "The Little Chauffeur " from the show.


Howard Kroplick

By 1906 the Vanderbilt Cup was firmly woven into the fabric of popular culture of the day. A three act musical comedy Broadway play entitled, “The Vanderbilt Cup,” starring a 17 year old sensation, Elsie Janis, cashed in on the public’s new found fascination with big time auto racing.

The play ran for 143 performances at the Broadway Theatre starting January 16, 1906 through June 1, 1906. The production then toured the country for several weeks, playing in other major metropolitan areas. It returned to Broadway in 1907 for an additional 48 performances split between the New York Theatre and the Grand Opera House. This second series of performances ran from January 7, 1907 through April of the same year.

Billy Murray was one of the most popular singers of the early 1900's. Among his signature songs were 'The Yankee Doodle Boy," "In My Merry Oldsmobile," "The Grand Old Rag," "Casey Jones," and "Alexander's Ragtime Band". In 190or 1907, Murray recorded "The Little Chauffeur" from the Boradway hit "The Vanderbilt Cup".

"The auto is the newest craze, almost insanity. It set the social world ablaze and pleased its vanity."

"But still the fad unearthed a gem, a wonder dear polite. To whom you can say loving things and still be in the right."

"The little chauffeur, the reigning rage, a real eighth wonder of the age.  An  all that you do, is strictly entre nous. To the little chauffeur, the little chauffeur, the little chauffeur."


Aug 13 2017 Richard Sloan 9:50 AM

Great find.  Great research! Great   presentation!

Aug 13 2017 Bob L 11:06 AM

Just a note about Billy Murray—- He is buried in Holy Rood Cemetery, just a mile north of the route of the Long Island Motor Parkway.

Dec 14 2019 Art Kleiner 8:00 AM

Here’s a shot of the racing scene in the play.  Picture is from The Theatre Magazine sometime in 1906.  One car is the Peerless Green Dragon which was driven by Barney Oldfield in the 1914 and 1915 Vanderbilt Cup Races.


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