Vaudeville was popular from the early 1880s until the 1940s, years when the Saranac Lake was becoming world famous as a cure center for tuberculosis. There were also cure cottages devoted to vaudeville entertainers— National Vaudeville Artists Cottage, the Gonzalez Cottage, Northwoods Sanatorium, the National Vaudeville Artists Home (Lodge) and Will Rogers Hospital. Talent agent William Morris, who owned Camp Intermission on Lake Colby, started bringing major vaudeville stars to the village in the 1920s to raise funds for the Saranac Lake Day Nursery. Petrova School and Petrova Avenue are named for vaudeville star Olga Petrova.
During the years that it was an NVA cottage, 80 Park Avenue was a very lively place; and the area around it, under its influence, became a very colorful neighborhood.
By and large it was not the big stars who came to the NVA cottages. The NVA provided lodging and care, free, to any employee in any phase of the entertainment industry and adult members of their immediate families. Consequently, one would be more likely to find an usher at an NVA cottage than a famous actress. Between usher and actress, however, there was a vast spectrum of entertainment people; and just about every type passed through the doors of NVA at 80 Park.
There were twenty-five or so patients in the house when it was full, and they had a habit of taking their daily exercise—a mild stroll about the surrounding streets—as a group. A number of children of this Baker Street-Park Avenue-Circle Street-Margaret Street area put on neighborhood circuses; and, whenever they did so, they invariably attracted an appreciative audience of professional jugglers and clowns and acrobats who were always quick to applaud and happy to offer advice.
New York Clipper, February 6, 1904
Vaudeville and Minstrel.
Trovollo writes from Saranac Lake, N. Y., under date of Jan. 20, as follows: "We are up here playing a week's engagement for Wm. Morris, at the opera house. This being race week, or. as they call it, 'ice carnival week,' Mr. Morris concluded to put in a vaudeville show for the entire week, something they have never had here before. We had a packed house Monday and Tuesday night, and a Tuesday matinee that surprised the manager of the theatre. Mr. Morris lives about one mile from the village of Saranac, overlooking Saranac Lake. Mr. Morris surprised us by sending two large sleighs, each drawn by six horses, and gave us a grand sleigh ride around the city, then to the ice track. After doing the ice carnival Mr. Morris invited us to his house, where we sat down to a spread arranged by Mrs. Morris, and there was everything the market affords. After dinner Mr. Morris called up his Twenty-eighth Street office, in New York, by long distance telephone, and we sang 'He's a Jolly Good Fellow,' which was heard distinctly in the New York office. It has been a continual round of pleasure for the performers who were lucky enough to be on the programme here this week. Wm. Rock, superintendent of the vitagraph, has been here all the week. The De Foreests, [sic] whirlwind dancers, are also up here for their health. The show has been such a financial success that Mr. Morris says be will repeat it in the near future. On the bill were Miss Hutchins, Mr. and Mrs. Robbins, Ed. Foster, Callahan and Mack, Josephine Russell, Lillian and Shorty De Witt, the Great Trovollo, New York Comedy Four, and the American vitagraph."
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 18, 1956
By Eddie Vogt
I was talking with Benny Ressler about that excellent article he wrote about the William Morris Park for the Enterprise. When he started to tell me the "names" that had appeared at the Pontiac Theater in the annual Fourth of July show that William Morris Sr., had brought here starting in 1927, I was amazed, and started copying them down. However, he told me that "Beany" Barnet had been the treasurer of all these shows, and he would get me the complete list from him. This he did, and passed it along to me. Maybe you saw some of those shows. If so, do you remember . . .
Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, Leon Errol, Blanche Ring, Enid Bennett, Fred Niblo, Madame Petrova, Irene Franklin, Jack Norworth, Marie Cahill, Cissy Loftus, Nan Halperin, Andrew Mack, Joe E. Brown, Rita Gould, Val and Ernie Stanton, Bert and Betty Wheeler, Ernest Ball, William and Joe Mandel, Bob Milo, Sidney Grant, Paul Whiteman, Vincent Lopez, George Jessel, Lou Holtz, Bennie Rubin, Block and Sully, Benny Fields and Blossom Seeley, Eddie Conrad, Harlon Dixon, Ray Bolger, Pat Rooney and Pat Jr., Ted Lewis, Julius Tanen, Harry Rose, Frances Arms, Sylvia Froos, Louis Mann, W.E. Ritchie, Ben Blue, Bugs Baer, William Collier Sr., Jack Pearl, Robert Emmett Keene, Jane and Katherine Lee, Lou Clayton, Eddie Jackson, Lillian Shaw, Julian Rose? And the many others?