Alex Yokel, skyrocketed to the mountain aeries where dwell Broadway’s top-flight theatrical impresarios by his production of the hilarious and phenomenally successful “Three Men on a Horse,” is a Jew who, born in Chicago, has had a rather eventful life ever since he put on his first pair of long pants, one might almost say.
For when Alex was only seventeen he took a job in the editorial department of the Chicago Examiner. Perhaps his father, one of William Randolph Hearst’s circulation chiefs, had something to do with the stripling’s turning to journalism. At any rate, Alex proved so apt at chasing pictures that within a year he was advanced to the police run, which he covered for three years.
During this time it is reported that he solved an even dozen murder mysteries which the police had pigeonholed, and shortly after his twenty-first birthday he was made city editor.
Mr. Yokel’s entrance into the theatre occurred while he was on the Examiner. When not city-editing he served as press agent for Charles E. Kohl’s three vaudeville houses. Deciding to quit the newspaper game and concentrate on show business, the young fellow produced a money-making “turkey” musical show. He put on a dozen of these small-time pieces, which played the tank towns out of Chicago.
“Madam Sherry” was the first big successful show that Mr. Yokel worked on. He was the press agent for this George Lederer smash-hit, and it was this production that brought Mr. Yokel to New York. The show made more than one million dollars for its backers, Mr. Lederer, Harry Frazee and A. H. Woods.
Mr. Yokel’s next job, his first to be obtained in New York, was also with a hit. “Little Jesse James,” which was produced by L. Lawrence Weber. Then came publicity work for several plays and musicals, none of which are now remembered. But this period was followed by another hit, “The Coconuts,” with the four Marx brothers.
After the run of the “Coconuts,” Mr. Yokel tied up with Harry Delf, who was planning “The Family Upstairs.” Then came an association with George Jessel. Two weeks after “The Jazz Singer” opened, Mr. Yokel was turned loose on the publicity assignment.
At last Mr. Yokel became a Broadway producer, with Georgie Price, and the name of the piece was “The Song Writer.” Metro thought it good enough to buy and did so. Mr. Yokel soon busied himself with “Tattle Tales,” which he presented to Broadway audiences.
Eventful as this life has been, its accomplishments are small compared to Mr. Yokel’s present achievement, the producing of “Three Men on a Horse.” This comedy, it appears certain, will make more money for him than all his other enterprises put together. It will soon start casting its fourth company.