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 Gus Williams

Gus Williams

Birth
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 16 Jan 1915 (aged 66)
Yonkers, Westchester County, New York, USA
Burial Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Plot Section 48, Lot 22246
Memorial ID 1108 · View Source
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Vaudeville Entertainer, Songwriter. He was born Gustave Wilhelm Leweck, Jr. on July 7, 1848 in New York City, New York, the son of a fur importer. As a young teenager, he left home to seek adventure in the American West but only made it as far as Indiana where circumstances deemed it necessary for him to find work as a farmhand. In August 1862 at the age of 14, he joined Company F of the 48th Indiana Infantry to serve in the American Civil War, probably as a drummer boy. He soon became popular in the Union Army, providing entertainment that helped alleviate the daily boredom of camp life. He first took to the stage on November, 14, 1864 during the Union Army's occupation of Huntsville, Alabama with J. B. Ashton's Dramatic Company playing Carney in "The Pirate Legacy: The Wrecker's Fate" by Charles H. Saunders. In 1868 he joined Tony Pastor's vaudeville show where he would remain throughout his twenties. With Pastor he became popular as a Dutch-style comedian performing skits and singing songs in a comedic German accent. Two of his more popular tunes from that period were, "Keiser Do You Want to Buy a Dog?" and "Dot Little German Band." Around 1879 he began touring in German farce comedies like "Our German Senator," "One of the Finest," "Keppler's Fortunes," "April Fool," and "Oh! What a Night." Over his career he would not only pen a number of popular comic songs but also a few sentimental ones, such as "See that my Grave is Kept Clean," "Pretty Little Dark Blue Eyes," and "Don't Forget Mother." In 1885 he assumed his stage name, Gus Williams, as his permanent legal name. At the peak of his career he became active in the campaign to better the wages of vaudeville players and was the first to demand and receive $500 for a week's engagement as a monologist. He continued to work well into his sixties though eventually no longer as a headliner. On January 16, 1915 after meeting with his booking agent in Yonkers, New York, he committed suicide there at the age of 66 by shooting himself in the temple. He left no suicide note and the reason for ending his life remain unknown.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1108
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Gus Williams (7 Jul 1848–16 Jan 1915), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1108, citing Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .