Rawls and Van Kaufman
William "Mush" Rawls
Born: December 18, 1877
Died: July 17, 1957
Ella Van Kaufman
Born: March 31, 1877
Died: April 13, 1945
the age of 17, Rawls joined a medicine show. A
jack-of-all-trades, he performed as a contortionist,
ventriloquist, fire-eater, and legitimate actor during his years
on the stage. He also developed a number of comedy
routines, playing under the banner Rawls and Braton Comedy
Company. As a blackface comedian, he is credited as being
the man who aided Eddie Cantor develop his blackface makeup
during Cantor's early days in show business.
On February 11, 1904 in Camilla, Georgia he married the former Ella Von Kaufman of Deadwood, S.D., a soprano singer with his vaudeville act. In 1905, they made their first trip to Muskegon, and purchased a home in the Actor's Colony in 1912. Returning to town each summer, "Mush" served as secretary and treasurer of the Muskegon Actors' Colony Club. Upon retiring from the road, the couple settled in Muskegon.
Mush made his last public appearance on the April 3, 1957 episode of "This is Your Life" honoring Buster Keaton. As a guest of the show, Rawls recalled Keaton's days on the vaudeville stage.
A few months later, Rawls passed away. He was survived by a sister-in-law, nine nieces and a nephew living in West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.
|Special thanks to Mary Jo Moblo
for the image
of the Mush and Ella from 1916.