Laughter Is The Best Medicine: The Borscht Belt and American Comedy
Hosted By: Jewish Study Center
During the 1930s the resort industry in New York State’s Sullivan County’s was completing its transition from the wood-framed Victorian hotels of the Silver Age to the stucco Mission-style behemoths of the Golden Age. At that point most of the region’s hotels began to hire social staffs that included aspiring entertainers of all kinds. It wasn’t at all unusual for even small to medium sized hotels to have 20 to 40 people on their social staffs, including people responsible for wardrobe, props, and sound.
The resulting impact on American entertainment was enormous. And this period pre-dated and was distinct from the later post-World War II period when many of the entertainers who had become major stars due to the advent of television came back to perform at the hotels for limited engagements.
John Conway, Sullivan County’s official Historian for more than 30 years, is uniquely qualified to examine these two phenomena and to relate the stories that bring those eras back to life. His presentation will leave no doubt in your mind that laughter is, indeed, the best medicine.
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