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Rudy Horn papers

Identifier: Dance-MS-Horn

Scope and Content of the Collection

Collection contains Horn’s correspondence with close friends, most notably Ole Olsen, Moya Lear, and Eileen Sipprell, in addition to newspaper clippings, advertisements, and programs from his time on the Vaudeville circuit. Collection also contains pictures of Horn performing.


  • Creation: 1920-1995



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Rudy Horn papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Rudy Horn papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Rudy Horn

Chicago-based dancer, comedian and Vaudeville entertainer.

Rudy Horn was born in 1909 in Cleveland and moved to Chicago as a young child. As a boy, he was introduced to the Chicago nightlife and entertainment business by his father, Henry Horn, who owned the prominent Chicago hot spot, the Green Mill. At the Mill, Horn met celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, Joe E. Lewis, and Texas Guinan. The Green Mill often entertained such high profile guests following shows at the Uptown and Riviera Theatres.

After years of watching his father run the Green Mill, Rudy became the radio engineer at the Uptown Theatre as a teenager. He also took on other roles at the Uptown, working every low-level position while making connections with big name stars, which helped him land an agent while living in New York City.

Horn began performing in Chicago as a comedic dancer, and was best known for his “drunk act,” despite the fact that Horn himself did not drink. His first running gig was as a dancer at Al Capone’s Colosimo’s restaurant. He also dabbled in magic tricks, comedy and more serious forms of dancing. As his career grew, he performed internationally with Abbott and Costello, Texas Guinan, Artie Shaw, and his lifelong friends Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. He spent twenty years performing on cruise ships and in clubs throughout Europe.

Horn continued to perform even as a senior citizen, bringing his 1920s brand of entertainment to nostalgic crowds and friends in retirement homes throughout Chicago. He kept in close contact with Ole Olsen, and his wife, Eileen Sipprell, and daughter, Moya Lear. Horn never married, but has two children.


0.4 Linear Feet (1 box)


Correspondence, clippings, photographs and memorabilia of Chicago entertainer known as the "Comedy King of Vaudeville." His father was Henry Horn, who operated and booked nightclubs in the early 1900s and was the onetime owner of Chicago's Green Mill Tavern. Born in 1909, Horn performed as a dancer, comedian, and emcee throughout the US and Europe.


Materials arranged alphabetically.

Collection Stack Location

3a 48 8


Gift, Rudy Horn, 2000.

Processed by

Emma Martin, 2011.

Inventory of the Rudy Horn papers, 1920-1995
Emma Martin
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States