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The Chic Perkins Comedy Company

For the better part of McHenry’s early history, the Riverside Hotel was the place for some of the best entertainment in the city. In the early 1890s, the Riverside featured the Chic Perkins Comedy Company. The Company was headed by Genevieve “Chic” Perkins and her husband Frank King. Most of the performances were comedy/dramas that were known for their clever humor, tending to shy away from slapstick elements. Perkins and King started up their company up here in northern Illinois, possibly in Chicago, in the 1890s. The couple was married in 1896 in Chicago. After they were married, they went by the Frank King Comedy Company or the King-Perkins Comedy Company.

Photo from the Daily Arizona Silver Belt taken in 1908.

The Company came to McHenry in October 1890 intending to perform on Saturday the 25th. A storm hit and they were forced to reschedule the performance until a couple of days later. The weather didn’t slow down their popularity as they performed in front of a packed house.  They were noted coming in a couple of times in 1893, tickets ranged from 5 cents to 25 cents. For these shows the troupe enacted the plays: “Lil’ Miss”, “the Tramp’s Daughter” and the “Little Duchess”. They were very highly regarded being called one of the best comedy “companies now traveling” and that every player “was a star”.  The company toured much of Illinois, including Moline and Rock Island.

Advertisement for the play “Billy” in the Rock Island Argus in September 1911.

During the early 1900s, Chic Perkins and Frank King made the move out west performing in places like Carson City, Nevada; Bemdji, Minnesota; Sisseton, South Dakota and Astoria, Oregon. In 1907, the troupe hit it big with a comedy called the “Little Prospector”. The play featured Ms. Perkins as a miner who has a comedic rough go of it while seeking her fortune in Colorado. One theater goer was so impressed by the play that he named one of his mines the Chic Perkins. The play also featured Frank Jr and Chic’s mother, Mattie Perkins in supporting roles. While they had other successful plays such as “Billy” and the “Leading Lady”, the “Little Prospector” was their most successful. The couple was very successful out west and had a reputation as being one of the most talented comedic companies of their era.

Chic as the Little Prospector in the Bernidji Daily Pioneer in February 1908.

By the 1910s, the Perkins-King team started to settle down and opened and operated a motion picture theatre in Iowa for years. During this time, Chic would direct plays from time to time mainly in local theatres. In their later years, the couple moved to Palos, IL where Frank passed in 1935 and Chic in 1956. To most, Chic Perkins and Frank King are forgotten names of a bygone era. However, they were part of a generation of performers who gave people across America many hours of priceless entertainment in a time before radio and the television.

Sources

“Billy.” The Dispatch (Moline, IL)  30 Sep 1911: 13. Newspapers.com. Web. 19 Feb 2019.  
“Jr Auxiliary Tea Party.” Suburbanite Economist (Chicago, IL)  13 Nov 1928: 2. Newspapers.com. Web. 19 Feb 2019.
“Billy.” The Dispatch (Moline, IL)  30 Sep 1911: 13. Newspapers.com. Web. 19 Feb 2019.
“Billy the Bright New Comedy.” Alton Evening Telegraph  20 Sep 1911: 7. Newspapers.com. Web. 19 Feb 2019.
“The Chic Perkins Comedy Company.” The McHenry Plaindealer  26 Apr 1893: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“The Chic Perkins Comedy Company at Riverside.” The McHenry Plaindealer  7 Jun 1893: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 26 Feb 2019.
“The Chic Perkins Comedy Company at Riverside.” The McHenry Plaindealer  29 Oct 1890: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Chic Perkins Married Twice?” The Daily Arizona Silverbelt  21 Nov 1908: 4. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Chic Perkins In A New Play.” The Bemidji Daily Pioneer (Bemidji, MN)  6 Feb 1908: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Chicago.” The Dispatch (Moline, IL)  22 Feb 1897: 4. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Here They Are Again.” The McHenry Plaindealer  22 Oct 1890: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“What The Press Agents Say.” The Dispatch (Moline, IL)  27 Sep 1911: 16. Newspapers.com. Web. 19 Feb 2019.
“The Little Prospector.” The Morning Astorian (Astoria, Oregon) 19 Sep 1908: 4. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“All Emotion In Monday’s Play.” Daily Capital Journal (Salem, Oregon) 19 Sep 1908: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Little Prospector In Sisseton.” The Sisseton Weekly Journal (Sisseton, SD)  25 Mar 1910: 7. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“A High Class Attraction.” Corvallis Gazette (Corvallis, OR)  22 Sep 1908: 2. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“A Wise Fool.” The Citizen-Republican (Scotland, SD)  23 Feb 1911: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“A High Class Attraction.” The Randall County News (Canyon City, TX)  26 Mar 1909: 9. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Jeremiah Hopkins’ Visit.” The Laclede Blade (Laclede, MO)  26 Nov 1904: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Chic Perkins.” The Yellowstone Monitor  (Glendive, MT) 23 July 1908: 2. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Dont’ Miss It.” Hot Springs Weekly Star (Hot Spring, SD)  10 Feb 1910: 8. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“The Event of the Season.” Union County Courier (Elkpoint, SD)  27 Apr 1905: 2. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“A Rare Occurrence.” Carson City Daily Appeal (Carson City, NV) 8 Oct 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Chic Perkins Starring Tour.” Free Press (Hays, KS)  16 Mar 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Their Fifth Annual Tour.” Twice-a-Week Plaindealer (Cresco, IA)  10 Nov 1903: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Sisseton Theatre Goers” The Sisseton Weekly Standard (Sisseton SD)  25 Mar 1910: 11. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Trouble Chasers Chase Trouble.” The Denison Review (Denison, IA)  1 Oct 1919: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Will Stage Big Musical Comedy.” The Denison Review (Denison, IA)  30 Jul 1919: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“Federation Will Stage A Play.” The Denison Review (Denison, IA)   14 Sep 1919: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“The Newest Western Play.” The Falls City Tribune (Falls City, NE)   8 Feb 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.
“A Theatrical Incident.” The Evening Statesman (Walla Walla, WA)   7 Aug 1908: 4. Newspapers.com. Web. 20 Feb 2019.

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