F. Wilbur Hill and Willette Whitaker

May 5, 2013

F. Wilbur Hill (1870-1959), American banjoist and musician, and Willette Whitaker (Mrs F. Wilbur Hill, 1875-after 1941), American harpist and singer
(photo: unknown, circa 1907)

Saratoga Springs, New York, 7 August 1897
‘Vaudeville entertainments were given in the Theatre Saratoga on Wednesday evening and in the Town Hall on Thursday evening, for the benefit of a New-York City free-ice fund. The cast of players included Marie Dressler, C.I. Wiegand, Mme. Rotta, Bonnie Thornton, Mme. Ida Talbot Albert, Vivian Dell, Willette Whitaker, Ella Gertrude Gustaw and F. Wilbur Hill, all of New-York City.’
(New-York Daily Tribune, Sunday, 8 August 1897, p. 2e)

Bismarck, North Dakota, week beginning Monday, 18 June 1900
‘Wilbur Hill and Miss Whitaker.
”’Away down Souf” with Wilbur Hill and Miss Whitaker, for five days, July 9th to 14th. To see and hear these delightful people is worth a long journey. Mr. Hill plays the banjo as that instrument is seldom played. They at once captivate their hearers and prove themselves worthy of all the good things said of them. There will be no feature of the assembly more pleasing than the series of entertainments given by Mr. Hill and Miss Whitaker.
‘One of the biggest hits yet made in this city was made by Hill and Whitaker at the Grand this week [i.e. Grand Theatre, New York]. Their act is out of the ordinary run and while highly artistic musically and of great interest to musicians, it pleases the ordinary mortal. The beauty of Miss Whitaker impresses the beholder and she is made the favorite of the whole show immediately. The skill of the twain in playing the banjo is remarkable and the instrument in their hands loses its negro strumming character and assumes the tone and beauty of the ‘cello. Miss Whitaker sings coon songs and old melodies to perfection. Her voice is much better than May Irwin’s and her stage presence is much more pleasing. – N.Y. Journal.’
(Bismarck Weekly Tribune, Bismarck, North Dakota, Friday, 22 June 1900, p. 10d)

Orpheum, San Francisco, week beginning Monday, 2 June 1902t
‘The banjo playing of Wilbur Hill and Willette Whitaker is exquisite. Their work is in reality quite out of the ordinary.’
(The San Francisco Call, San Francisco, Tuesday, 3 June 1902, p. 9c/d)

Chase’s, ‘polite vaudeville,’ Washington, DC, week beginning Monday, 12 September 1910
‘The added attraction will be the dainty comedienne, Willette Whitaker, assisted by the comic impresario, F. Wilbur Hill, in ”A Personality,” the identical feature in which they were recently an unusual hit in London.’
(The Washington Herald, Washington, DC, Sunday, 11 September 1910, p. 6d)

‘Willette Whitaker and Wilbur Hill have purchased a summer home at Harrington Park, N.J.’
(Variety, New York, 9 June 1911, p. 7b)

‘B.F. Keith’s Theatre, Cambridge, Massachusetts, week beginning, Monday, 6 February 1911
‘Willette Whitaker, the harpist and entertainer, who has just completed a long and very successful European tour, will be another strong feature, singing some of her Southern plantation melodies. Miss Whittaker will be assisted by F. Wilbur Hill, the banjo soloist.’
(The Cambridge Chronicle, Saturday, 4 February 1911, p. 11c)

New Tivoli Theatre, Grote Street, Adelaide, October 1913
‘Assisted by Mr. F. WILBUR HILL,
‘who created a perfect furore in Miss Whitaker’s World-Famous song,
(The Advertiser, Adelaide, South Australia, Monday, 6 October 1913, p. 2b, advertisement)<br.
Orpheum Theatre, week beginning Monday, 28 September 1914
‘Miss Willette Whitaker, interpreter darky folk songs [sic], assisted by F. Wilbur Hill.’
(The Herald, New Orleans, Thursday, 24 September 1914, p. 5a)

Cromwell Hotel Shore Club, Miami Beach, March 1941
‘Memories of the days of the wondering minstrels of ancient Ireland and Scotland will be stirred … a week from Sunday when Miss Willette Whitaker will present the first open air harp concert ever given in Florida … The harpist … will present a series of classical numbers and also a group of Southern folk songs, learned from her grandfather, who was a Mississippi rive steam boat captain… . Miss Whitaker is internationally known, having made several world tours, and she has played before the king and queen of England in a command performance. In addition, she played at the wedding of Joan Bennett of the screen, and Gene Markey…’
(The Miami News, Sunday, 9 March 1941, p. 11Bc)

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