Joe Cook by Pat Sides

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In the 1920s and 1930s, entertainer Joe Cook was a household name, although his multi-faceted talent is now largely forgotten. Born in 1890 as Joseph Lopez, he was adopted by Evansville residents who operated a grocery store at the corner of Oak and SE Fourth streets, where the family also resided.

The younger Cook left Evansville for New York in 1917, and his penchant for madcap comedy quickly led to huge success as a vaudeville, Broadway, and radio star. Cook never forgot his hometown, which he mentioned in every performance he gave.

He is seen here (second from left) on a visit to Evansville in 1935 when a plaque in his honor was placed at the site of his childhood home. Illness forced him to retire early, and he died in 1959. 

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