||The collection of "Sliding" Billy Watson (1876-1939)
documents the career of one of the most popular and wealthy comedians on the
burlesque circuit. The famous Billy Watson slide was a sliding gait or a gag in
which he slid across the stage on a banana peel. Throughout his career, Watson
frequently confused with "Beef Trust" Billy Watson
(d. 1945) who was also an entertainer.
||The "Sliding" Billy Watson Collection, 1900-1988
(bulk 1900-1939), is divided into two series, I. Research Files, 1900-1988, and
Publicity Materials, ca. 1900, undated. The bulk of the collection consists of
research files that were compiled by Barbara Cohen-Niebauer, a great granddaughter
of Billy Watson, and donated to the Ransom Center by her husband Alan Niebauer
2006. Cohen-Niebauer organized her files chronologically or by subject, and this
arrangement has been retained in Series I.
||The research files present a comprehensive record of Watson's career from 1900 to
1939 as recorded in newspapers, theater programs, and legal documents such as
reports and deeds. These files contain reproductions of originals held elsewhere,
supplemented by a few pieces of Cohen-Niebauer's correspondence from the 1980s.
Series I also includes subject files: a folder about Watson's neocolonial house
Freeport, New York, a letter from Helen Hayes to Cohen-Niebauer, and two folders
about the murder of Watson's second wife, Nellie (née) Watson, who was
murdered, along with her business partner, in April 1926 in a popular Long Island
||Series II, Publicity Materials, contains a printed flyer and personal and stage
photographs of Billy Watson.
||Cohen-Niebauer had previously donated a folder of photocopied clippings about Billy
Watson to the Ransom Center. The photocopies and the Billy Watson materials in
Series II were transferred from the Theater Biography Collection to this collection
in 2006. Elsewhere in the Ransom Center, a photograph of "Sliding" Billy Watson is located in the Florenz Ziegfeld Collection.
||Cohen-Neibauer, Barbara Elayne. Our Family History:
Coopersmith, Rober, Savage (Savitsky), Chaletsky, Shapiro, Diamond, Wolferd,
Cohen (Konkevitz), Klotnitsky. [Philadelphia?]: B. E. C. Neibauer,