Home » Family History » Great-Great Uncle Albert Joseph Pleau: On With the Show!

Great-Great Uncle Albert Joseph Pleau: On With the Show!

Out of the three performing Pleau brothers, I think Al had the most experience, exposure, and consequently, fame.

In 1903, newspapers reported him playing piano (another piano player!) and performing skits with his wife, May, as part of Shield’s Vaudeville in Montana and Washington. 1904 is the first mention of his doing blackface comedy in Los Angeles. Blackface appears to be his “schtick”, as he performed it for many years all over the country. Some of the companies he was with were: Haverly’s Mastadon Minstrels, Hawley’s Minstrels, and even his own Al Pleau’s Minstrels. His wife Henrietta was even part of the act during their marriage.

Early in his career, Al played a leadership role for the causes he cared about. 1908 was when he seems to have put together Al Pleau’s Minstrels that performed a benefit for the Acadia Hose Company in Newark, NY. In 1912, he was director and musical director of the Western drama, “The Half-Breed” in Le Roy, NY that was to benefit St. Joseph’s Italian Church.

Another benefit that Al participated in was after World War I. On April 29, 1919, a day of entertainment was provided to a number of veterans who fought at Argonne at the country home of Senator James D. Phelan in Saratoga, CA. Al was named the “vaudeville tenor”.

Al must have made many friends in show business. In 1906 he contracted the measles, which affected his vision for a while, making him unable to perform. So in January 1907, a benefit was organized for him as he recuperated, perhaps to make up for his lost income.

Al also had a hand in songwriting and arrangement.  I was able to find some songs that he had copyrighted:

  • “When I Stroll With You” in 1910
  • “Don’t Be Jealous of Old New York” in 1910
  • “My Cousin Antone” in 1910
  • Sandy McPherson in 1910
  • “The Call to the Boys in Blue” in 1918 (by his own Al Pleau Music Co.)
  • “Where ‘ja Get It” in 1920
  • “Draw” also in 1920
Courtesy Library of Congress.

Courtesy Library of Congress.

My big thrill recently was finding the sheet music and manuscript of “The Call to the Boys in Blue” (the manuscript says “The Call of the Boys in Blue”) on the Library of Congress website! I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote even more songs.

As vaudeville declined, so had the articles about Al’s performances. In 1922 he played Dave Tolliver in “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” with the Hildebrand Company on stage in Klamath Falls, WA. I suspect that stage acting was the direction Al’s career took, as he was listed as an actor in his 1940 voter registration (he was a Democrat, by the way). For all I know, he may have done radio or even some film roles, but I haven’t found any evidence of that yet.

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2 thoughts on “Great-Great Uncle Albert Joseph Pleau: On With the Show!

  1. Pingback: Impressions from Ellis Island | Beautiful Water Genealogy

  2. Pingback: Great-Great Grandparents George and Marie Emma E. (LeClair) Pleau | Beautiful Water Genealogy

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