"He could dynamite a song like a masculine Bayes." -- Douglas Gilbert, American Vaudeville
The American craze for golf, heretofore a sport for Britishers and plutocrats, began in 1913, when two outstanding British pros were beaten by the American amateur Francis Ouimet in the U.S. Open. Within three years, there were hundreds of golf courses around the country, catering largely to middle-class businessmen. Golf became a major sport and pastime after World War I, a reflection of the leisure and prosperity America enjoyed during the fabled 1920s.
If golf was not big business, "bootlegging" was. The Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages, took effect on January 16, 1920, the beginning of the "Roaring '20s." Enforcement of the Volstead Act, the Amendment's criminal-law teeth, was initially put in the hands of the Department of the Treasury, whose officials proved so easily corruptible that two hundred thousand speakeasies sprang up across the country. In New York City alone, fifteen thousand legal saloons were replaced in quick order by more than twice the same number of speakeasies. Although widely damned for sparking the enfranchisement of "organized crime," Prohibition did succeed in lessening the alcohol and beer consumption of the poor and working classes, its primary aim. As the mild recession of the early 1920s gave way to prosperity, however, more people had the money to buy bootlegged whiskey. By 1923, Prohibition was a national joke, a fit and frequent subject for the humor of comedians in vaudeville. Kid Boots could not have been more timely.
Its premise was more daring than those of Irene or Sally, the "Cinderella" musicals that were the big hit shows of the postwar era. Boots (Cantor) is the less than honest caddy master at a golf club, using crooked balls to