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Robert B. Winans

[Toney, Lemuel Gordon ]

(b Richmond, VA, Oct 17, 1870; d New York, NY, July 29, 1941). American minstrel and vaudeville performer and composer. He served in the army from 1895 to 1898. He also attempted to become a professional baseball player in Baltimore, and it is said that he became a minstrel after George H. Primrose saw him entertaining the other players in the clubhouse, having failed to make the team. He then went to work for Primrose and West’s Minstrels, where he changed his name and soon became a star performer. He played in vaudeville until that form declined in the late 1920s, then occasionally appeared in nightclubs; he also performed in a number of Broadway shows. Leonard wrote many of his own songs, including his first hit “Just because she Made them Goo-goo Eyes,” “Roll dem boly boly eyes,” “I lost my Mandy,” and his most famous song, “Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider” (...


John Koegel

[Samaniego, José Ramón Gil ]

(b Durango, Mexico, Feb 6, 1899; d Los Angeles, CA, Oct 30, 1968). Film actor and singer of Mexican birth. He moved to Southern California with his family during the Mexican Revolution in the later 1910s, and worked in Hollywood as an extra in such silent films as Cecil B. De Mille’s 1916 epi c Joan the Woman (with Metropolitan Opera star Geraldine Farrar). By the early 1920s he was starring in high-budget films such as The Prisoner of Zenda (1922) and Scaramouche (1923). In the later 1920s, as one of MGM’s biggest stars, he appeared as the romantic lead in a series of dramas and comedies, notably in Ben Hur (1925) and Ernst Lubitsch’s silent version of The Student Prince (1927). He also performed as a singer and dancer in three early MGM film musicals by the composer-lyricist team of Herbert Stothart and Clifford Grey: ...