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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

The Orpheum Theater in Spokane had a popular young vaudeville performer on its bill: a juggler named W.C. Fields.


Yes, in 1912 the soon-to-be curmudgeonly Fields was known as “one of the funniest jugglers in vaudeville.” Yet he had already developed his own comedy style as “The Eccentric Juggler.”

“His act is of two separate merits,” said The Spokesman-Review’s entertainment writer. “He performs difficult and deceptive feats and carries through his act with a lot of silent comedy that finds ready response.”

From the health beat: Dr. Patrick S. Byrne, physician and former Spokane mayor, debunked the claims of a new patent medicine that was being touted as the “elixir of youth.” This elixir was made from, alarmingly, “the glands of roosters and sheep.”

It was all nonsense, Byrne said. The secrets to true health were simple: “an active life in open air, plenty of wholesome food, steady habits, clean living and abstinence from booze.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1862: President Abraham Lincoln presented to his Cabinet a preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. … 1916: A bomb went off during a Preparedness Day parade in San Francisco, killing 10 people.