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Donald E. Rice - Entertainer


Posted By: S. Ferrall - IAGenWeb volunteer
Date: 2/12/2012 at 21:44:35

This bio of Don Rice was compiled from various sources by S. Ferrall.


Born in Lansing, Iowa, 44 years ago, Don Rice was bitten by the show business bug at 15. At the time he was working as an usher in a local theatre. Soon he was graduated to vaudeville, radio, and TV. Don's humor is generally topical, witty and clean. Recently he appeared at the Playboy Club in Chicago and met with such critical acclaim that he was signed to appear at other Playboy Clubs throughout the country.

~Long Beach Press-Telegram, February 25, 1962 (the photo at the bottom accompanied this artice)

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The bio above indicates that Mr. Rice was age 44 in 1962, giving him a birth year ca1918. Census data indicates that he was actually a few years older.

1915 US Census: Donald E. Rice, age 4, Waukon, Allamakee co. Iowa.

The 1920 US Census gives his age as 8, giving him a birth year ca 1912. On February 19, 1920 Donald (Don) and his brothers Elsworth (age 11) and Glen (age 10) are all in the Charley Kaser household in Makee twp. Their relationship to the HOH is nephew.

The 1925 Iowa State Census, Waukon, Makee twp. Ellsworth E. (16), Benedict Glenn (15) and Donald E. (13) Rice are living with their mother, Ruby E. Rice (43). Ruby's marital status is Divorced, she owns her own home free of a mortgage. Her parents are John J. Kaeser and Harriet Deremore. The father of the 3 boys is Frank J. Rice (42). He is not a member of the household.

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Donald E. Rice toured with a USO group in Europe & Northern Ireland 1944/1945. While visiting the troops of the 8th Armored Division Rice assisted in converting an apple wagon into a portable stage which was pulled to troop areas so he could entertain.

In the 1940's and 1950's he appeared in nighclubs and vaudeville acts.

The Billboard review of Rice's vaudeville act at the RKO-Boston, January 28, 1943: "Don Rice knocks himself out in drawing laughs from the customers. Stays on too long, thus losing the effect. he has good patter and his impressions of John L. Lewis and Willkie are funny. Also draws applause with his General McArthur [impression]."

The Billboard, October 25, 1947, review of his appearance at the Million Dollar Theatre in Los Angeles: "Comic Don Rice scored solidly with familiar routines, including the pantomime of a gal getting dressed, the mythical phone conversation with a heckling wife and some slapstick bits. His drunk take-off, during which he falls into the ork pit, is good for a barrel of yocks. Rice is wisely spotted at three points on the bill."

The Billboard, June 25, 1949 did a review of Rice's vaudeville act at the Palace Theatre, in New York City: "Don Rice's act at times seemed to conflict with Lewis's. Both do impressions. Rice, however was more of a tumult comic, with take-offs thrown in for added measure. He uses various props - a trombone, a water-squirting phone, a dummy thrown into the first row and even a rubber-legged fall into the pit. His final thing, a drunk, got howls, even if his chatter wasn't up to his bits. His exit won big hands."

He entertained around the country over the years: In the "Biggest Show of '52" with Frankie Lane, Patti Page & the Billy May Orchestra; at Minnesota State Fair in 1969 with Patti Page & the Kids Next Door and the Minnesota State Fair 1977 with Mac Davis; and on the Dean Martin Show in the 1970's. He died in Los Angeles on October 2, 2000.


Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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