THE HISTORY OF
BOBBY CLARK & PAUL McCULLOUGH
by Michael D. Brick
Great Nephew of Paul McCullough
May 20, 2006
This is by no means all there is to know about the great comedy team Clark & McCullough, but this is all my brother Paul J. Brick and I know about them, especially about our Great-Uncle Paul McCullough. This information and the pictures, news articles, reviews, playbills and programs we have came to all the Brick kids by our father, Paul Monroe Brick, the nephew of Paul J. McCullough his namesake. Paul M. Brick was born in Springfield Ohio in 1914, of the marriage of Helen C. McCullough-Brick and John M. Brick. Helen was one of two sisters of Paul McCullough. Paul M. Brick loved and was very close to his uncle. He mourned his death in 1936 up to the time of his own passing in 2004.
The material passed down to us was collected by Paul's mother, our paternal great-grandmother Ellen McKeough-McCullough, (whom we called Grand-Nellie), the second wife of Paul's father Cyrus Bower McCullough, and that collection was assisted and added to by our grandmother Helen McCullough-Brick.
ROBERT EDWIN CLARK
BORN: June 16, 1888 in Springfield, Ohio, (Clark County). (Source Springfield Daily News, front page, 2/12/1960. Small blue scrapbook.) The son of Victor Brown Clark and Alice Sneed Clark. Father was a railroad conductor. Brother Earl Clark of Columbus, OH, uncles George Sneed and Walter Lloyd of Springfield, OH.
MARRIED TO: Lucette or (Angele) Gignat, or (Gaignat), a French-Swiss actress, according to New York Times article in small blue scrapbook. His wife called him "Baby" and he called her "Cookie", (Source News article from the Columbus Dispatch, 2/14/1957, pg 4A.)
DIED: 2/12/1960, NY, NY according to New York Times article in small blue scrapbook. Died at his home at 101 W. 55th St., NY, NY. Funeral Monday 2/15/1960 at Little Church Around the Corner, (Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, 1 E. 29th Street, NY, NY. Buried Woodlawn Cemetery, NY, NY.
One of the great stage clowns of the mid-20th Century, Clark formed a comedy team with schoolmate Paul McCullough in 1900. They played minstrel shows and circuses, and toured in vaudeville before achieving fame as burlesque comedians. Their bawdy sketches delighted audiences nationwide. Clark & McCullough made their musical stage debut in the London revue Chuckles of 1922, and became Broadway stars that same year in Irving Berlin's Music Box Revue (1922). They returned in the 1924 edition, then starred in the short-lived Ramblers (1926) and later in George and Ira Gershwin's satirical musical Strike Up the Band (1930). In all these shows, Clark retained the trademarks of his burlesque career -- painted-on glasses, oversized cigars, walking stick, (usually too short), and leering looks at long-legged showgirls.
In the early 1930s, Clark & McCullough made numerous films and occasional stage appearances, including the Broadway revue Thumbs Up! (1934). After the emotionally troubled McCullough committed suicide in 1936, Clark went on to a long and successful solo career. He shared the show stopping "I Can't Get Started" with fellow burlesque veteran Gypsy Rose Lee in the 1936 Follies, starred in the revues Streets of Paris (1939) and Star and Garter (1942), and introduced Cole Porter's "Count Your Blessings" with co-star June Havoc in Mexican Hayride (1944). Clark's comic performance turned a revival of Victor Herbert's Sweethearts (1947) into a surprise hit – the first Broadway revival ever to outrun an original production. He mugged his way to similar acclaim in producer Michael Todd's revues As The Girls Go (1948) and Peep Show (1950). Clark discarded his painted on glasses to play Applegate in the national tour of Damn Yankees in the mid 1950s, winning rave reviews in what became his farewell to the stage. (Source: http://www.musicals101.com/who2.htm)
Later in his career Clark collected flutes and canes. He learned to play the flute in the circus, and sometimes played one in his skits and plays. He collected walking sticks; not the normal kind, but "invalid sticks", …"the kind used in hospitals". "His prize cane is one that is loaded. It has a shepherd's crook handle and was formerly the property of a warden. It actually killed two men".
"Clark's makeup box consists of a money-till--the change compartments. He kept his grease paint in one, white powder in another and in the third compartment black powder which he used for his chin. He could quote from any Shakespeare play you mentioned and his big ambition in life was to play Cyrano De Bergerac in a musical comedy version of the play."
PAUL JOHNSTON McCULLOUGH
The son of Cyrus Brower McCullough, of Barnesville, OH, (DOB: 7/31/1832, Died 9/13/1904, secondary source reports March 2nd of the same year), and Ellen M. McKeough-McCullough, of Muscatine, Iowa, (DOB: 4/22/1849 or 1852, Died in Miami, FL in 1948), who were married September 13, 1871 at St. Matthew's Church, Springfield, (this was Cyrus' second marriage, his first wife Hanna Stevens had died). Paul had two half sisters, Mary, (born 1862) and Ella, (born 1867), and was one of seven children in the second marriage. The children in order of birth were Bessie, who died an infant, Cable Will, believed to be William, Helen , Paul, Angela and Hugh.
MARRIED: Rae Carpenter, of Brookline, Mass. when she was only fifteen years old. (They lived at 68 Windsor Road in Brookline, MA in 1930s while he worked on Broadway. See two 8x10 photos and a snapshot.)
DIED: Wednesday, March 25, 1936. Funeral Sat. March 28th, Waterman Chapel, Mass at St. Aidens Church by Rev. Francis Barry, Brookline, MA. Buried Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett MA. According to Paul J. Brick, great-nephew of Paul McCullough, his father Paul M. Brick, Paul was struck by a taxicab while walking, and one of his legs was injured in the late 1930s which caused him continuing problems. According to the senior Paul Brick, this was one of the things which added to Paul McCullough's depression near the end of his life. (There remains the possibility that Dad might have confused this story with that of a comedian named Jack Boyle, who worked once or twice with the team, and later was injured in an automobile accident. Mr. Boyle later took his own life. I have a news article on Boyle's death.) Interestingly before his death and at his request, Clark & McCullough gave him $200.00 with which to have surgery. After his death it was reported that Bobby would provide his funeral.
CLARK & McCULLOUGH PARTNERSHIP FORMED: 1900
Both young men had been school chums, who learned acrobatics at the local YMCA. Bobby was interested in drama and Paul's love was acrobatics. Paul urged Bobby to join him at the local YMCA in tumbling/acrobatics training. They developed then played their skits in Paul's back yard. Folks who wanted to see their backyard acts paid in pins or as much as one cent for admission. Paul's father is later quoted as saying if he knew they dreamed of a circus career, he would have burned all their backyard stage equipment. (YMCA Picture available.) They went to school together, played hooky together, practiced acrobatics together and went into show business together.
CLARK: Stock Presentation of The Drummer Boy, (according to untitled and undated news article in small blue scrapbook), in the local opera house, according to the Springfield Civic Theater’s “Callboard” 1957. Appeared at a local lodge called "The Tribe of Ben Hur", (according to Nelson H. Budd's article, [possibly in Columbus Ohio newspaper after Paul's death], titled, "Bobby Clark Stars in Successful New Broadway Show", referring to Streets of Paris.)
BOTH: According to a news article titled "Sudden St. Louis Downfall Is Typical of Uncertainty of Major League Baseball" by John Drohan, the boys were befriended by newly retired St. Louis Brown's catcher Jack Hendricks, and Paul was his batboy when Hendricks took his first manager's position at Springfield in the old Central League. Bobby and Paul entertained fans and players alike between innings, with their "hoofing and singing", and according to John Drohan, Hendricks got them their first paying entertainment job with a local circus. Other sources show they were with the Elk's Circus near Springfield, for a short time.
1904: After their first but short summer with the circus, they came home for a while, and then joined a traveling minstrel show, as "black faced comedians", with Culhane, Chance and Weston. McCullough was 19 and Clark was 15, (source Springfield Daily News, page one, 3/25/36). They later called the company "Crackers,Cheese and Water, because that's about all they got to eat", and rarely got more than fifty cents as pay. Clark later said they "nicked" him for so many undeserved fines they rarely got paid". They quit Culhane, Chace and Weston, and joined another minstrel company called Kolbfield's. While on tour through the south the company folded and left them stranded. (Source Cleveland Times newspaper, June 4, 1924.) After that summer they returned to high school in Springfield. (Source news interview/article from the Columbus Dispatch, 2/14/1957, pg 4A.) It was during 1904 that Paul's father Cyrus died in Springfield.
1905: Under contract as Comedy & Bugle Players in Culhane, Chace and Weston’s Minstrels for $25/week, 6/14/05, which lasted for thirty-five weeks? (I have a copy of the contract). (Small Blue scrapbook, page 3. Article “From The Sidewalks of New York” by Deming Seymour and news article “A Sober Moment with Clark and McCullough, by Arthur Kober, found in large blue scrap book.)
1906: The next spring they joined (Carl) Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus as clowns, where they were paid $35/week, and “cakes”, when they joined in Cincinnati. They were clowns in tramp costume and did a prize fight gag. In the fall they joined Sells-Floto Circus and toured Central America through the winter, (Source The Cleveland Times Newspaper, 6/4/24, with quotes).
1907: Upon their return in the spring, they joined Ringling Brothers Circus, also as clowns for five years, and played at the Madison Square Garden with that circus, according to New York Times article in small blue scrapbook. (Source The Cleveland Times Newspaper, 6/4/24, with quotes, and the news story of Paul's death on the front page of the Springfield Daily News, 3/25/1936.)
1911: Photo in Police Gazette showing the "POSIT TRIO", Bobby, Paul and Hank Peare as clowns with Ringling Brothers Circus.
VAUDEVILLE IS NEXT
Their primary ambition was to play in the circus, and the stage was only an afterthought. They started doing comedy because there was no future in acrobatics. They realized they could get a laugh without getting hurt in the process. In the spring they did the circus, and in winter they played vaudeville. They did a dumb comedy act, with heavy tramp makeup, and injected a few lines, of dialog as an experiment. They began as a trio with Hugh McColl, and later Henry Peare. Paul reported it worked and "here we are getting a laugh, without breaking our backs". Paul went on to say:
"So we had a choice of dressing for a class act, or doing a tramp act and talking out of character. Well, dignified English from a tramp heightens the laugh. But the suggestion in the part is that the tramp has seen better days. Now a tramp has no dignity, and false dignity is one of the best comic themes. So instead of playing two down-and-outs, we shifted into playing two fellows on the way down, but still putting up a bluff. We became Shabby Genteel." (Source, news article, "Architects of Laughter", 1932.)
1912: Vaudeville debut at the Opera House in New Brunswick N.J. on 12/2/12. In the beginning Clark was the straight man, and McCullough cracked the jokes, in an outrageous costume and vermillion nose. They traveled in the “Keith Circuit”. Later they were hired by producer Jean Bedini, and starred in two productions in 4 years, Puss Puss and Peek a-Boo, (source untitled and undated news articles in small blue scrapbook). The Literary Digest, September 26, 1936, page 26 reported in the beginning McCullough was the headliner, and Clark was the "stooge". "Clark's wit quickly altered that, and McCullough was relegated to foil work while Clark was the brilliant comedian".
1913: January, Hamerstein's Victoria, the principle variety theater in NY City, later known as Rialto Theater. Starred in Much Ado About Nothing, (See picture of two clowns behind bars). They did their famous skit of the clowns trying to put a chair on top of a table. There were 18 acts billed that week, including Blanche Ring, who later starred with Bobby and Paul in Strike Up The Band. (Source, undated news article, "A Comedian's Scrapbook", which talked about Paul's personal scrapbook.)
1915: They were an established act, and were warned in a letter from an unidentified "brother performer" there were three other guys, known as the Box Car Trio, copying their material and costumes. (Source, undated news article, "A Comedian's Scrapbook", which talked about Paul's personal scrapbook.)
1916: They changed their act and both wrote their own material. Paul is supposed to have written, "The Automobile Ride of Duke Dootlittle", copyrighted by Thorvald Solberg, Registrar of Copyrights. Apparently the "parody" was sold to another act by their agent, Billy Sheer, and then bought back; both transactions for $50. Paul liked situations of "man holding the bag", while Paul liked gags with "mistaken identity". Bobby was an avid researcher, and read Shakespeare, while Paul got ideas from talking to conductors, policemen, cafeteria cashiers, bartenders and drinking neighbors. (Source, undated news article, "A Comedian's Scrapbook", which talked about Paul's personal scrapbook.)
1917: Clark & McCullough got into trouble due to their involvement with the "White Rats", an actors organization. Their part with that organization cost them dearly, and they were essentially "blackballed" from Vaudeville for a while, and only worked minstrel shows and burlesque. Their agent, from the Simon Agency wrote them saying they couldn't be booked unless they could clear that up.
They were the highest paid comedians in burlesque, (according to a magazine article titled, "All Work and No Play", March 1930). In July, 1917 they were recruited by Jean Berdini, Producer. In the fall they started rehearsals for Puss Puss, at Donavan's Hall, 808 West Fifty-Ninth Street. Paul bought a new Ford Roadster, factory number 345623, automobile certificate 245271. (Source, undated news article, "A Comedian's Scrapbook", which talked about Paul's personal scrapbook.)
1918: "In 1918 the comedians were catapulted out of burlesque and into The Midnight Review, atop the Century Theater. John McGowan, author of Excess Baggage and the book of Flying High, was the principal singer in that company. Dancing imitations were performed by a hoofer who called himself George White." In the fall of 1918 Paul was summoned by the draft, but when he took his physical he failed and was placed in the "forth class". They were soon back with Bedini and appeared at the Columbia Theater on December 13, 1918.
Paul apparently had a poem he appears to have written in his scrapbook, which is titled, "Dead Game Sports", which is summed up in the first few lines:
"We are dead game sports, and are always on the wing,
Don't care troubles to the wind we fling
Rustling, a bustling, a hustling, a tuskling
Used to being up against the real old thing:"
(Source, undated news article, "A Comedian's Scrapbook", which talked about Paul's personal scrapbook.)
They appeared in Puss Puss , then Peek-a-Boo, then Chuckles of 1922 for Bedini, and were so popular they "broke all house records". (Source, undated news article, "A Comedian's Scrapbook", which talked about Paul's personal scrapbook.) They played two seasons each in Puss Puss , and Peek-a-Boo, Chuckles of 1921 for one season.
FIRST FOREIGN ENGAGEMENT
1922: Chuckles of 1922 in London, according to New York Times article in small blue scrapbook. Their first musical comedy with Jean Bedini’s burlesque company, went to London on the Aquitaina, or the Mauretania on June 6, 1922. (Source, undated news article, "A Comedian's Scrapbook", which talked about Paul's personal scrapbook.) I have an article that reported they actually co-wrote Chuckles of 1922.
Lee and J.J. Shubert also booked them into the Central Theater in New York as head of a vaudeville unit. The Shuberts competed with the Keith Vaudeville circuit, it but did not last.
BROADWAY, MUSICAL COMEDY
1922: They made their Broadway debut when they were hired to appear in the The Music Box Review to the music of Irving Berlin, according to a New York Times article in small blue scrapbook. Show ran for 272 performances, plus a road tour over four years. In NY they played at the Music Box Theatre, from 10/23/1922 - 8/4/1923. The show was produced by Sam H. Harris, with the music, lyrics and book by Irving Berlin.
1924: Music Box Review of 1924: They continued in the updated grandiose review still produced by Harris with the music by Irving Berlin. There were one-hundred and eighty-four performances in this review, which ran from 12/1/1924 to sometime in May, 1925.
1926: They were promoted to be the stars in the Irving Berlin musical The Ramblers on Broadway, NY, according to New York Times article in small blue scrapbook. The show played at the Times Square Theater for 289 performances, from 9/20/1926 - 5/28/1927. Phillip Goodman, an entrepreneur who had previously put W.C. Fields on Broadway in Poppy, convinced them to star in the show, which played at the Lyric Theater, but the boys were worried. Bobby was quoted as saying, "After all we were a vaudeville team. How'd we know we could carry a musical? I figured we would probably be back in burlesque, or maybe the minstrels, within a week" Although early critics were mixed, The Ramblers was a success, and Clark & McCullough were a part of Broadway. (Movie Comedy Teams, by Leonard Maltin, page 73 in the paperback version.)
12/12/26: Clark & McCullough were roasted at the Friars Club in New York, with circus décor and an overflow crowd. Bobby Clark’s speech thereto is quoted indicating the affair was broadcast over the radio. Sam Harris, George and Irving Berlin were in the audience; Berlin among many others spoke. Harry Hirschfield, their agent also spoke. (Source, news article dated 12/15/26.)
1930: Edger Selwin’s Strike Up the Band, on Broadway, with music by George Gershwin, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. See large blue scrap book. 1/14/30 - 6/28/1930. Produced by Edgar Selwyn; Music by George Gershwin; Lyrics by Ira Gershwin; Book by Morrie Ryskind; Based on a libretto by George S. Kaufman; Musical Director: Hilding Anderson. Directed by Alexander Leftwich; Choreographed by George Hale; Scenic Design by Raymond Sovey; Costume Design by Charles LeMaire. Featuring the Orchestra of Red Nichols; Members of Red Nichols' Orchestra Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, Jimmy Dorsey and Jack Teagarden
1931: Cochran’s 1931 Revue, at the Palace Theater, staring with Ada May. They were booked with eighteen other acts, but the producer, decided to close the show after only eight days. Bobby, Paul and Ada May all offered to forgo their salaries for two weeks to keep the show open, so Cochran agreed and canceled the layoffs of the cast. Noel Cowart wrote at least one of the songs for that show.
Here Goes the Bride, musical comedy written by Peter Arno, a NY cartoonist. Press critic Karl Krug wrote about Bobby saying, "Mr. Clark tops a trail of comedy triumphs with his performance in Here Goes the Bride, and he becomes, I think, the chief rival of Mr. Ed Wynn, as the head man of the fun division of the American stage, by his current exhibition." Show only played for four days at the Chanin's 46th Street Theater, and was not successful. (Source news article, "The Show Shops", by Karl Krug, Press Dramatic Critic.) New York stage critic Brooks Atkinson, who in 1926 thought the boys were not "suitable" for the stage, was by then an avid fan. He wrote that with the Four Marx Brothers gone from the stage, "Clark & McCullough are the logical First Actors for the stage…their genius rises to its greatest magnificence when they are running in circles around the stage, now and then emitting a staggering bellow of a song". (Movie Comedy Teams, by Leonard Maltin, paperback version, pg 75.)
1932: Lou Holtz’s Vaudeville Review, at the Shubert Theater
1932/3: Walk a Little Faster, with Patricia Dorn, on Broadway, according to ad in black scrapbook with broken binding. Ran from 12/7/1932 - 3/18/1933. It was first played at the St. James Theater from its opening to sometime in February 1933, then moved to the Selwyn Theater opening there on February 20th, and closing on about March 18th of the same year.
COMMENTARY ON THEIR BROADWAY CAREER
"For several years they rivaled the Marx Brothers in popularity in New York, and even when they had to support weak material, they captured the hearts of the Broadway critics, who admired their madcap sense of fun and their boundless energy", (Movie Comedy Teams, by Leonard Maltin, paperback version, pg 69)
TALKING MOTION PICTURES
According to Leonard Maltin, shortly after the boys hit Broadway, Hollywood developed talking film capability, and Paul and Bobby were among the early recruits for the "talkies". In the beginning they adapted their vaudeville and burlesque acts to one reel films. After the first run of films in the summer of 1928, Fox hired two comedy "experts" as directors, Norman Taurog and Harry Sweet who alternated directing what were "shorts" or films lasting from 30 to 50 minutes each. Bobby and Paul, the madcap, spontaneous comedians were not comfortable with the scripted film work and in 1929 returned to Broadway.
1928: Signed contract, starred in Clark and McCullough in The Interview and Clark and McCullough in The Honor System, both one reelers that year with Fox.
1929: The Bath Between, 2 reels, Waltzing Around, 4 reels, The Diplomats, 4 reels, In Holland, 5 reels, Belle of Samoa, 2 reels, Beneath the Law, 3 reels, The Medicine Men, 4 reels, Music Friends, 3 reels, Knights Out, 3 reels, All Steamed Up, 3 reels, Hired and Fired, 3 reels, and Detectives Wanted, 3 reels. (I have a Fox Movietone Ad Paper listing the first three. The rest of the movie info was taken from Movie Comedy Teams, by Leonard Maltin, paperback version, pgs 81-2.)
1930-3: Late in 1930, they were lured back to Hollywood by RKO-Radio Pictures for a series of two reel films. They filmed during the summers, and played on Broadway in the winters. The series of films made during this time were:
1930: A Peep in the Dark,
1931: Chesterfield Celebrities, (a one reeler, actually a commercial by Warner Brothers.)
False Roomers, (2 reels), co-starred James Finlayson of Laurel & Hardy fame, as well as Eddie Dunn and Kewpie Morgan.
The Iceman's Ball, (2 reels), included pie throwing, and Bobby's well known line "You know it's women like you who make men like me make women like you make men like me".
A Melon-Drama, (2 reels), with Bobby carrying a watermelon in the back of his trousers, without knowing it contained a bomb.
Scratch As Scratch Can, (2 reels),
1932: The Millionaire Cat, with the boys as Dr. Titmouse and Bagley as exterminators.
Jitters the Butler, (2 reels)
Hocus Focus, (2 reels)
1933: Kicking the Crown Around, a spoof about prohibition where salami is the prohibited substance. Paul and Bobby played men hired to track a smuggler of garlic-salami.
The Druggist's Dilemma, (2 reels)
The Gay Nighties, (2 reels)
Fits in a Fiddle, (2 reels)
Snug in the Jug, (2 reels)
1934: Hey Nanny Nanny, (2 reels)
In the Devil Dog's House, (2 reels)
Bedlam of Beards, (2 reels)
Love and Hisses, (2 reels)
Odor in the Court, (2 reels)
Everything's Ducky, (2 reels)
In a Pig's Eye, (2 reels)
1935: Flying Down to Zero, (2 reels)
Alibi Bye Bye, (2 reels)
PAUL'S LAST YEAR
The boys finished their film career, then went on the road in a version of George White's Scandals. By the end of the year Paul was exhausted. In early 1936 He visited his mother, sister and brother in Miami FL, then returned to Boston. Suffering from "nervous exhaustion" he checked into a sanatorium, (most likely the New England Sanatorium in Stoneham. MA). When he left there it is said he was going to McLean Hospital in Belmont, driven by a long time friend and member of the Board of Directors of the Circus Fans Association, Frank T. Ford of Charlestown MA, and he asked to stop for a shave in Medford MA. The family version we always heard, was he was being driven to his home in Brookline, by Mr. Ford when he stopped for a shave in Medford. While there, and while the barber was distracted Paul apparently grabbed a straight razor and before he could be stopped he slashed his throat and wrists. Paul was hospitalized, and had surgery to save him, but he died two days later. Paul was buried from St. Aiden’s parish in Brookline, (where JFK was baptized). The barber shop in Medford still stands.
Paul usually wore an old silk hat, a pale grey dog-skin overcoat he bought in Toronto, (in about 1917), where he was told a department store had tried for 30 years to sell it without success. He thought a coat that couldn't be sold was funny. His suits all bore the initials E.J.B. on the inside pocket, because he got his suits from a dear friend, a "sporty Cincinnati undertaker, Edward J. Busse. Busse had always wanted to be a ticket seller in the circus. He usually wore one of two black "toothbrush" mustaches originally made for him, but later in his career he couldn't find anyone to make any more for him. (Source, news article, "Architects of Laughter", 1932.)
Bobby usually wore either burnt cork or later otherwise painted on horn-rimmed glasses, a flat ante-bellum collegiate hat, a walking stick, usually too short, and his trade mark was he always had a lit cigar, which he puffed and juggled. He usually got his stage clothes at second hand shops. (Source, news article, "Architects of Laughter", 1932.) Later in his career Bobby dressed better. Near the end of his career he was forced to drop the painted on glasses for regular eyewear, which he resented.
Paul loved to hunt and fish. He also loved The Ramblers so much he had a yacht built in Miami FL a couple of years before his death, and named it "Rambler". His idea was to have it available whenever he could get down there, and when he wasn't around its Captain, his brother Hugh who lived nearby, and his nephew Paul as first mate, would take his friends fishing and even do charters to make some money to offset expenses. According to his nephew Paul, after the comedian's death in 1936 the yacht remained unused, and thieves hauled it out of the water and stripped it of everything valuable. There is a typed letter from Paul to his nephew outlining some of the details about the use of the yacht, where Paul urged him and Hugh to learn navigation so the people they took out would think they knew what they were doing.
Paul, unlike Bobby, was very outgoing and gregarious. He got a lot of his material from people on the street, and loved to go to lunch or dinner with friends often. He frequented race tracks, had his own personal handicapper, and also paid close attention to boxing and other sports. He was also a homebody. When working in New York, he always made his way home to Brookline on a late train every weekend, even though he had to return to the City the next day for Monday shows. Both he and his wife Rae were absolutely passionate about the game of golf. They both played every chance they got, and had a putting green installed at their home in Brookline.
By all accounts he was a loving husband to Rae, and no infidelity scandals have been discussed to our knowledge. They had no children, but Paul bought Rae a lifelike baby doll that she took everywhere they went. She often traveled with Paul.
Like almost all Irishmen, Paul deeply loved and revered his mother. He visited her when ever he could, and wrote her often. She occasionally traveled to be with him in Brookline, or she went to Springfield to visit other family. He was deeply saddened by the sudden death of his sister Angela, (believed to have been in childbirth in Florida), only a few years before his. He also attended the funeral of his sister-in-law Francis, wife of his brother Will. In a letter to him mom he said he gave Will $50 and hoped "he would spend it on something necessary". Paul also provided the floral blanket on Francis' casket.
In the beginning he was the master clown of the pair, but by the time they made their way to musical comedy Bobby had become the lead comedian, and Paul was relegated to the role of a "Feeder". Bobby always said Paul was the best in the business, and they always split their earnings fifty-fifty. Late in their career together the pair earned $2,000 per week each while on Broadway, which in the mid 1930s was a lot of money.
Although over time Paul faded further into the background, Bobby always treated him as an equal. Although some academics have reported to the contrary, no one that we know has ever said Bobby treated Paul badly in public or private. We know Bobby stayed in touch with Paul's widow from time to time, and sent her news clips with personal notes as well. They also wrote to Paul's mother and sent her a few clips from time to time.
If you read their "press" over their entire career, it is easy to see that over time Paul was relegated to the background by Bobby's mastery of comedy, even though they remained equal partners. Some late news articles fail to even mention Paul. The material they performed near the end of their partnership even had scenes where Paul didn't even come on stage, just Bobby. We are speculating, but feel sure that was a major cause of Paul's depression. Paul's sister Helen and his nephew Paul all lived into their eighty's or longer and never seemed to have any clinical depression themselves. His mother was about 100 years old when she died.
The following is information about some of their shows and movies, collected from the internet, some of which I have used above.