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Ambark Ali, Vaudeville actor. From the collection of Lon Ellis.


Here are a couple of sepia pinback buttons from my collection that I really adore. I found them about 20 years apart.....maybe more.

Ambark Ali was a Vaudeville actor that actively performed in New York and surrounding areas in the 1910 to 1920 time period. Information is sparse on Ali, but I found a number of advertisements in newspapers and entertainment magazines for him performing with other entertainers at various vaudeville houses (Liberty in NYC, National Winter Garden, Lyceum in Rochester NY, Smith Opera House in Geneva, NY, etc).

In September 1919, the Smith Opera House in Geneva NY gave a matinee and evening performance of “High Life Girls” that billed Ambark Ali and 25 beautiful show girls. Slated as “A Real Musical Burlesque Show With a 100 Per Cent Equity Chorus”, the prices were advertised to be 25, 35, 50, and 75 cents. Boxes were $1.00.

Ambark was married to Viola Hunter who had been married before and had been a famous knife thrower in the Wild West Shows where she was known as “Miss Winona”.




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Viola Ali wrote an account entitled "Trouping With Buffalo Bill" for the Wallace (Nebraska) Winner newspaper on October 13, 1949. She tells about a meeting with John Baker on January 29th 1900 in which her husband signed on with his wife and his troupe for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show which began in Madison Square Garden the first week in May of that year. A contract dispute kept Mr. and Mrs. Ali from traveling to Europe with the show scheduled for 1901. They joined the Buckskin Bill Wild West show but left after 3 weeks due to the unsavory troup she described as a bunch of grafters, gamblers and confidence men. This ended their careers with Wild West Shows. The Ali's divorced and she is buried in the Dickens Nebraska Cemetery.