Horton In A Berlin Booth

In my never ending pursuit of fabulous photobooth photos, I come across many other types of vintage photos that take my fancy. Some time ago, while browsing online, I spotted a lot of photographs of a vaudeville actor and his partner that really fired my imagination. After having purchased one group of pictures, another lot was listed, which I also bought. The seller had apparently purchased over 400 photos from the subject’s estate which included valentine notes, snapshots and studio portraits. The two photobooth photos above were not included in either lot but were added as a gift from the seller. It was a complete and stunningly fortuitous surprise.

Pictured above is Horton Spurr, a man of many faces and numerous talents.  Both of the pictures are dated Saturday, February 11th 1933, Berlin. I cannot imagine what being in Berlin at that point in history would have been like. Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January, only 12 days before this photo was taken. Enormous social and political changes were unfolding. It would have been extraordinary to have been there, but doubtless the full significance of  that time would not have been immediately apparent.

In the 1920s, Horton was billed as “The World’s Worst Golfer”. His slapstick golf routine played the stage of major theatres throughout Europe and the United States.  He appeared with the song and variety show Ziegfeld Follies as well as performing a live opening act for first-run movies featuring Abbott and Costello. Eddie Cantor became his best friend when they performed in “Kid Boots” on Broadway, and subsequently acted as best man at Horton’s wedding.

When Horton wasn’t on stage, he was in the eye of the movie camera. In Hollywood, Horton was Douglas Fairbanks Junior’s “double” in numerous movies in the 1920s.  He also played supporting roles in many silent films.

Horton had a long and loving relationship with a beautiful dancer, Berenice Snyder. Her dancing career included running her own dance school, but apart from that, I have been unable to discover much about her. Horton and Berenice were together from the 1920s until his death in the 70s.

After his career in show business slowed, Horton joined the United States Merchant Marines. Some time ago I found, somewhere online, photos of him in his uniform, looking very smart, but try as I might I cannot find them again.

Much of this information came from a review of a small exhibition of Horton and Berenice’s memorabilia which was written by Pat Brodowski in 1994.  From the description of the items that were on display I think that the niece, who was so proud of her deceased aunt and uncle, must herself have passed away, as many of them are now in my possession and in other collections around the world.

To see the other vintage photos I have of Horton and Berenice click here or on the links, above. They are worth a look!

20 comments
  1. I’m sure I would have fallen for him, Berenice was berry lucky, I wonder if she hatched an egg for Horton. Sorry Katherine I know… it’s a pretty bad joke but it’s late. Cheers Sue.

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    • Actually don’t think they had any chicks. Not that I have been able to find out. Love getting your comments Sue!

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  2. Lisa said:

    amazing that these survived the war. and what a fascinating life indeed!

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  3. m5son said:

    You sparked my curiosity about this Horton fellow as I never heard of him. He achieved quite a bit. Talk about two different careers, show business and the military. Maybe he sang and danced a bit while marching.
    He is buried in upstate New York.

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  4. How amazing is this world? A photo of someone so long ago, so far away, fallen into a blog in Australia where a group of us from an assorted background have learned a bit more about his remarkable life. Who needs cryogenics when we have Katharine! I also challenge his title as Worlds Worst Golfer, mine looks something akin to a vaudeville act.Cheers Sue

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  5. lucky and loved great niece said:

    HELLO FROM LUCKY &LOVED GREAT NIECE, AGAIN. FOUND YOUR BLOG TWO DAYS AGO AND WAS TOO EXCITED THAT YOU KNEW OF MY LOVED ONES. WOULD LOVE TO BE IN CONTACT. HAVE OTHER FABULOUS PHOTOS (ONE OF BERNICE AS A CHUBBY BABY IS SO DEAR) AND WOULD LOVE TO TALK TO YOU & TELL YOU MORE ABOUT THEM. THEY WERE SUCH WONDERFUL FOLKS TO KNOW. I HAVE THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATES AND MARRIGE CERTIFICATE SOMEWHERE IN THE BOXES THAT HAVE BEEN IN STORAGE SINCE WE MOVED. I AM ALSO BLESSED ENOUGH TO HAVE INHERITED FURNITURE OF THEIRS,
    SUCH AS A CHINA CUPBOARD HUTCH THAT UNCLE HORTON BUILT BY HAND, THEIR DROP LEAF KITCHEN TABLE & SIDE TABLES. I ALSO HAVE THE HAT, GOLF CLUB &BALL USED IN HIS “WORLD’S WORST GOLFER” ROUTINE. I HAVE THE ONLY WEDDING PHOTO OF THEM, ALSO. EDDIE CANTOR WAS THEIR BEST MAN, AND I HAVE BERNICE’S FLAPPER-STYLE WEDDING DRESS. SO MANY WONDERFUL TREASURES FROM PEOPLE WHO WERE IN AND OF THEMSELVES VERY DEAR TREASURES! MISS THEM SO MUCH. I MYSELF HAVE MANY HEALTH PROBLEMS THAT HAVE FORCED ME TO BECOME DISABLED. NOW THAT I CANNOT WORK, I HAD TIME TO LEARNTO USE A COMPUTER. AM CURRENTLY WRITTING A NOVEL SET IN THE 1920’S AMERICA. THANK YOU FOR YOIR BLOG.AM SO EXCITED TO KNOW THAT OTHERS CAN BE BLESSED TO KNOW ABOUT THEM TOO. WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU, KATHERINE. MY NAME IS BONNIE. PLEASE RESPOND SOON. HAVE NO INTERNET AT HOME, SO I CAN ONLY CHECK FOR YOUR RESPONSE PERIODICALLY. HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

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  6. lucky and loved great niece said:

    UNCLE HORTON WAS QUITE A HAM. HE WOULD BE OVER THE MOON THRILLED TO KNOW HE’S FEATURED ON THE INTERNET!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sure he was, and a romantic and creative one at that!. I have emailed you. Hope the files came through ok.

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