Pert, voluble, and echt-French, Vernona Jarbeau was a popular comedienne who adorned farces and comic opera in the 1880s and 1890s. She emerged in the 1880s in Gilbert & Sullivan troupes, particularly noted for playing Yum-Yum. Her star vehicles in the 1890s - "Starlight," "Strictly Confidential,"and "The Paris Doll" - were fluff and her touring company workmanlike and pedestrian.
Though entertaining and fun, Jarbeau was as a singer just average, depending on schtick to sell songs. Her signature song, "McGinty" invariably brought down the house. When the revue emerged as a form on Broadway, she found the performance frame ideal for her talents, and became the focus of the early "Passing Show" franchise. In certain respects, Anna Held can be viewed as Jarbeau's successor. David S. Shields/ALS