Education: Minstrel's End

The man who composed Ida ("sweet as apple cider") died last week in a $3-a-day Manhattan hotel room. He was Eddie Leonard, last of the great minstrels, whose blackface showmanship, eager voice and nimble feet kept him at the top of U.S. vaudeville for nearly 40 years.

Born Lemuel Gordon Toney, son of a land-owning Virginia family impoverished by the Civil War, Eddie Leonard entered minstrelsy by way of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. The late John McGraw, unimpressed by the rookie's batting average, advised him to change his name and try show business.

Eddie Leonard earned fame and a fortune by his...

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