George Mann was born December 2, 1905 in Hollywood, California and died of cancer on November 23, 1977 in Santa Monica, California. He grew up in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, moving to Santa Monica as a teenager with his parents. Shortly after George turned 20, he developed a dance act - Mann & Clark - with his friend Lester Clark. They performed together in Los Angeles for three or four months before George signed on as a single with Fanchon and Marco. George (6'6") was soon performing for comedic effect with a much shorter (4'11") Dewey Barto (father of the comedienne Nancy Walker). Two days after George turned 21, George and Dewey signed a contract with Fanchon and Marco as the comedy team Barto & Mann.
During 1926, they performed up and down the west coast until William Morris "booked them cold" (having never appeared on the east coast) into the Palace Theatre on March 14, 1927 during its celebration of vaudeville's 100th anniversary. Of their east coast debut, Zit's Theatrical Newspaper raved "Ten minutes before they went on at the Palace last Monday afternoon nobody thought very much about Barto & Mann; ten minutes after they came off stage, the whole Broadway world was talking about them... Acts like these only come along once in a while."
With offers from all the major vaudeville circuits, they chose to sign with the Orpheum Circuit, with whom they toured across the U.S. until they signed with the Earl Carroll Vanities from August 1928 to February 1929. They continued touring in the U.S. and Canada, with European tours in the summers of 1931 and 1934.
George met Barbara Bradford, a top model at the John
Robert Powers modeling agency, in March 1936. They were married in June
1937 and had one son, Brad, born in February 1941. George and Barbara
were divorced in June 1943. George never remarried.
As vaudeville faded, Barto & Mann joined the Broadway cast of Olsen and Johnson'sHellzapoppin, with featured billing from 1938 through 1942. The team split up in December 1943. In the 1940s, George performed with the USO and in small parts in several movies.
During his time in vaudeville George took about 12,000 B&W photographs, many of them demonstrating an extraordinary skill and aesthetic sensibility, and thousands of feet of 16mm film. In the early 1950s, George designed a 3-D viewer that would display his 3-D photographs, mostly taken around Southern California. He leased the viewers to various Los Angeles businesses, including Hody's Drive-Ins, other restaurants, bars and doctor's offices. Every couple of weeks, George would swap out the photos of such places as Calico Ghost Town, Catalina Island, Descanso Gardens, Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Pacific Ocean Park, Watts Towers or Palm Springs.
A few years before his death in 1977, George was hired
by Quaker Oats to portray King Vitaman in commercials and on the front
of the King Vitaman cereal box.