Joe Brown

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Joe Brown (1830-1863) was an American singer, dancer and actor.


Born in Buffalo , New York on 2 January, 1830 .

Died in in the Glasgow Infirmary (Scotland) of a ruptured bloodvessel on 25 October, 1883.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

He was a member of the "original" Christy Minstrels that visited South Africa in 1862. He was apparently an accomplished actor and one of two members who performed in blackface, "delineating a nigger characters" or performing in Ethiopian skits. He is also credited as the co-creator (with Wash Norton) of the Ethiopian skit Nervous Cures[].

They performed at the Theatre Royal) in August (20-31), followed thereafter by shows in the Circus, the Commercial Exchange and the Cape Town vicinity (e.g. Simonstown and Stellenbosch) till 19 September). The troupe returned to Cape Town and vicinity (21 October-20 November) for more performances, this time including also places such as Paarl and Worcester. They also visited Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown between there Cape Town engagements. The repertoire thus included burlesques of works such as La Somnambula (Moncrieff, frequently done by the company), Il Trovatore (Verdi) and The Flying Dutchman (Fitzball), as well as a number of comic sketches and songs, such as The Crow Family, The Nerves, Good News from Home (referred to as Goed Nieuws van Huis in Dutch reports) and even an act from a musical comedy billed as Cinderella Ball, or Lucy at the Ball.

The company's successful appearances had a huge impact on popular entertainment in Cape Town and the country during the 19th century.


Sydney Morning Herald, 5 May, 1863[1]

The Australian Circus History Society Website[2]

W.J. Mahar. 1999. Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Popular Culture. Volume 442 of Music in American life. University of Illinois Press, 1999

"Deaths in the Profession", . New York Clipper, 15 December 1883[3]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 139-140.

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