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Get Rich Quick Wallingford 
Opened: September 19, 1910
The Gaiety Theater, NYC

Original Cast:

J. Rufus Wallingford.....................Hale Hamilton
Blackie Daw.................................Edward Ellis
Edward Lamb..............................Grant Mitchell
Andy Dempsey............................James C. Marlowe
G.W. Battles.................................Frederick Seaton
Clint Harkins................................Russell Pratt
Bessie Meers..............................Carolyn Gordon
Gertrude Dempsey......................Mary Murphy
Richard Wells...............................Frederick Maynard
Tom Donahue...............................Spencer Charters


Con man J. Rufus Wallingford and his associate Blackie Daw come to
a small town and swindle various locals.  However, the big plan,
backfires and the two are exposed for what they are.  When the
business owner who was swindled becomes successful because of
Wallingford's advice, all is forgiven and Wallingford is hired as an
executive.  His reasoning: "....the logical development of the American
tendency to 'get there' no matter how."

Critic's Corner:

An Ibsenish foreboding that something terrible was going to happen has
been hanging over us.  It has happened.  Mr. George M. Cohan has
condemned the debasing influence of the chorus girl shows and the
unfumigated French farce.  If this pronouncement had come from any
other arbiter elegantiarum than Mr. Cohan we might have remained
skeptical.  Even Mr. Abraham L. Erlanger might have said them words
and we should not have been driven to weeping on shoulders.  But when
the modest creator of the Star-spangled drama, the inculcator of the
chewing gum standard of good taste in countless thousands of young
American bosoms, turns himself loose to inveigh against the
demoralizing tendency of the alluringly undraped chorus young person
and the subtle suggestion of the French farce with naughtiness set
forth as the stylish thing to practice, it must be admitted that the truth
is out.  If it has penetrated as far as Mr. George M. Cohan there is no
need of further concealment.  It is possible that Mr. Cohan's friend,
Mr. Erlanger, had some suspicion of the fact when "The Girl With The
Whooping Cough" was driven by the police from his New York
Theater, but Mr. Cohan's announcement in print that he has actually
discovered that there is too much appeal to the lower instincts in
American stage entertainment at reputable theaters shows that the
fact has become pretty generally known.

But now that Mr. Cohan has discovered it, what is he going to do
about it?  Is he going to prevail on Mr. Erlanger and his other
managerial friends to close their stages to the chorus girls and the
French farce?  Is he going to drive out ragtime as the only kind of
music the big American public cares to hear?  He should remember
that persons who care for nothing but ragtime, farce and chorus girls
are the ones who in the aggregate spend the most money on theaters.
Of all persons on earth Mr. Cohan is just the one to raise the standard
of public taste, and it would be very interesting to know just how he
would set about to do it.

James Metcalfe, Life Magazine, 1910

Still from "Get Rich Quick Wallingford" with Hale Hamilton wearing the derby, and
Grant Mitchell at the far right

Cohan's Recollection:

"Not really a straight play (a play without musical numbers) come to think
of it.  A crooked play."

" 'Better stick to musical comedy kid,' my friends advised. "Popularity" proved
to them that I'd never write a successful play without music.  On the strength
of this advice, I bought the dramatic rights of George Randolph Chester's
"Get RIch Quick Wallingford" stories, and turned them into a four act play
which I opened at the Gaiety Theater in September, 1910, where it remained
until the Cohan Theater (which was being constructed at the time) was ready
for occupancy.  We made the shift in February to the latter house, and when the
engagement ended, I had the satisfaction of a year's run on Broadway with a
play of mine without a song or a note of music.  This piece was afterward
produced in every English-speaking country in the world.   It was also translated
into French and given a Paris production."


Based upon an extremely popular series of stories by George Randolph
Chester in the "Saturday Evening Post," Cohan smoothly adapted "Get-
Rich Quick Wallingford" to the stage.  Once he secured the rights, he
began to "Cohanize" (his own term for adapting either an unpublished
play or published novels) the story, transforming Wallingford from a heavy
set con man to a flag waving, thin fellow who was roughly 5 foot-six, and
spoke out of the side of his mouth.  This was Cohan's first attempt at
doing a non-musical since the miserable failure of "Popularity" in 1906.
"Get-Rich Quick Wallingford" proved to be the opposite, and became his
longest running show at  424 performances in New York.  It also enjoyed
a healthy life on the road.

Cohan moved Wallingford from the Gaiety Theater into his new theater
at 1482 Broadway named the Cohan which opened on February 13,

Cohan also appeared toward the end of the show's run as the title
character.  It gave him the idea that the public might accept him as
a dramatic actor.

Hale Hamilton, after a distinguished theatrical career, went to
Hollywood and appeared in films until 1940.  He performed in such
notable films as "Susan Leonx" (1931) with Greta Garbo &
Clark Gable, "The Champ" (1931) with Wallace Berry & Jackie
Cooper, "I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang," (1932) with Paul Muni
and "The New Adventures Of Get Rich Quick Wallingford" (1931) with
Jimmy Durante (his second film).

Hale Hamilton as J. Rufus Wallingford

Grant Mitchell would also appear in three other Cohan shows "It Pays To
Advertise" (1914) "A Tailor Made Man" (1917) and "The Baby Cyclone" (1927)
where he acted opposite Spencer Tracy.  On Broadway, he appeared in "Julius
Caesar" (1902) opposite Richard Mansfield,  starred in the original cast of "All
The King's Men" (1929), and many others from through the late 1930's. He is best
remembered today for his success in Hollywood, appearing in such classic
films as: "Dinner At Eight" (1933), "Seven Keys To Baldpate" (1935), "The Life
Of Emile Zola" (1937), "Juarez," & "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" (1939),
"The Grapes Of Wrath" (1940), "Tobacco Road" (1941), "The Man Who
Came To Dinner" (1942), "Larceny Inc." (1942), and
"Arsenic & Old Lace" (1944).

Grant Mitchell (circa 1927)