RIFFS 2010
Published April 14, 2010
The Root Boot
by David Simerley

A documentary film on Lord Buckley’s childhood in Tuolumne, along with reenactments of Buckley’s early vaudeville routines, will be presented at the Tuolumne City Memorial Museum, April 24, 2010.

The film focuses on the humorist’s birth and early childhood in turn of the century Tuolumne. Buckley’s account of a run in with a bear during his years in Tuolumne became the classic “God’s Own Drunk,“ which is featured in the film.

Born April 5, 1906, the home on Birch Street in Tuolumne where Buckley grew up housed quite a brood. With eight brothers and sisters, the family struggled to make ends meet after his father died of miner’s consumption and his oldest brother was killed in a mining accident.

Buckley worked in the forests with his Uncle, a Westside Crew Chief. It is said that young Dick not only did a fine job topping trees, but also did a fine job spitting tobacco juice on anyone he could hit from his lofty perch.

He eventually left Tuolumne to join the vaudeville stage.

After the documentary, there will be reenactments of some of Buckley’s early vaudeville routines, including the Jersey hat switch and a demonstration of his mass pantomiminism.

In his early years as an entertainer, Buckley worked the “cooler circuit“ (stage acts between reels of a movie), was a master of ceremonies during the marathon craze of the Depression era and toured with Ed Sullivan for the USO during World War II.

From using audience members to build human pyramids in the 1930‘s to his Royal Court in the 1950’s, he developed a form of performance art where audience and performer, being on stage and off, disappeared.

So be prepared to participate.