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Stage Name

Birth Name

The 4 Crackerjacks

Lulu Coates and Her Crackerjacks

The 5 Crackerjacks  
The 6 Crackerjacks  
    The Crackerjacks were the brainchild of early Acrobat fame  Lulu Coates in 1914 who was part of the Watermelon Trust Acrobats which consisted of  Sherman Coates , Lulu and Grundy and his Wife. When Coates and Grundy's act split up in 1914, Lulu decided to form the Crackerjacks which originally consisted of Archie Ware, Wilfred Banks and Harry Irons. This grouping would lead to a very famous Acrobatic dance act over time.

   Archie Ware  was the Hot Shot and leader of the group who already had an extensive background in performing in Vaudeville and the Circus. Archie was not very tall, standing only at 4' 10 1/2 inches tall which was a great size for his craft. He started performing in Vaudeville for three seasons with Cozy Smith and her Pickaninnies in George Webster's Circuit in the Dakotas along with  Willie Covan and his cousin Maxie McCree at the age of fourteen. In 1913 Ware left Cozy Smith group and joined various troupes such as  Mayme Remington and later Belle Davis and later around 1914 worked with a comedian named  Andrew Tribble and was introduced to  Mrs. Coates who was forming her Crackerjacks in New York. He would stay with Mrs Coates for 8 years until she retired in 1922 and gave the act over to Ware.

   As soon as Ware took the reins he hired Morris Greenwald who was a great manager for them who stayed with them their entire career. The the Four Crackerjacks were formed consisting of  Raymond Thomas, Clifford Carter, Harry Irons  and  Archie Ware and over the years consisted of four to six members at a time with occasional changes in it's members. Of all the members who worked with the Crackerjacks over time, there were only four who were not real Acrobatics but possessed special skills that were used in the acts. The Crackerjacks played in most of the Nightclubs of the day in and around New York as well as many stage productions like Hellzapoppin' and Harlem Cavalcade.

   What made the Crackerjacks so good was that they were not just Acrobats with lots of skill, they also Sang, Danced, did Acrobatics and Tumbling, did comedy and used fancy costumes that changed with each act and used music that swung.

   Their act consisted of 5 numbers that lasted about ten minutes from start to finish. The first being a Flash Tap routine, then a solo, usually by Goins, doing a contortionist - acrobatic chair dance. The third was the trademark act called "the Old Man" number complete with Civil War costumes, long grey beards and walking canes. They would hobble on Stage, looking and moving like old men, then burst into their Acrobatic act. The fourth was like the second but varied by dancer. The last act was a replay of the Old Man except that they put in everything they knew into the finale that just exploded on Stage all done to a jazz rhythm. They remained together, performing up until 1952.


Name

Birth Place

Birth Date

Spouse

Type

Archie Ware Topeka, KS B.6/3/1892-? Louise Ware Tumbling, Tap, Acrobat 
Bobby Goins ?? ?? ?? Contortions, Acrobat, Tap, Sang 
Clifford Carter Boston MA. 8/14/1893-? Marion Carter Tumbling, Acrobat, Tap, Chair-dance 
Deighton Boyce Panama B.1913-? ?? Gymnastic, Acrobat, Tap, 5 person Somersault
George Staten ?? ?? ??  -
Harry Irons Philadelphia, PA
3/13/1898 ?? Tumbling, Acrobat, Tap, 
Joe Chism ?? ?? ?? Strutter, Acrobat  
Lloyd MacDonald ?? ?? ??  -
Norman Wallace ?? ?? ?? Balancing Stunts, Acrobat, Wall Dance 
Raymond Thomas Indianapolis IN B.7/9/1898 ??  -
Tosh Hammond ?? ?? ?? Slow Moving Somersaults, 2 Batons 
Walter Humphrey ?? ?? ?? Tumbling, Acrobat, Tap, 
Wilfred Blanks ?? ?? ?? Tumbling, Acrobat, Tap, 

Dance Types

Dance Partners

Music Titles

Acrobatic Dance n/a Alexander's Ragtime Band (Old Man #)
Buck and Wing   Deed I Do (Goins) 
FlashTap   Rose Room (Goins)
RhythmTap        
Strut, the      

Night Clubs

Theaters

Stage

Connie's Inn 1917 - Henderson Theatre 1929 - Hot Chocolates (Connie's)
Cotton Club     1938 - Hellzapoppin'
      1942 - Harlem Cavalcade (5 Crackerjacks)

Films

Television

Publications

n/a n/a Book: 1964 - Jazz Dance (Marshall Stearns)
     

NOTE: Archie Ware's Great Great Niece is searching for more info on her GG Uncle, her here!