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Inventing the Cave ManFrom Darwin to the Flintstones$
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Andrew Horrall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526113849

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526113849.001.0001

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He of the auburn locks: George Robey, the Edwardian cave man

He of the auburn locks: George Robey, the Edwardian cave man

(p.115) 5 He of the auburn locks: George Robey, the Edwardian cave man
Inventing the Cave Man

Andrew Horrall

Manchester University Press

This chapter focuses on how George Robey, one of the most popular Edwardian comedians, created a sketch in 1902 based on E.T. Reed’s prehistoric peeps cartoons. The sketch, which Robey performed for years, firmly established the cave man as a theatrical character and inspired many professional and amateur imitators. Reed’s cartoons remained very popular and widely imitated. They were invoked to describe conditions in the empire and scientific evidence of the ancient past, while comic cave men were used to advertise a wide variety of commercial goods. The second part of this chapter explores how Reed’s cave man character was transferred to the cinema screen in 1905 with the first film ever set in prehistory. British cave man films inspired American filmmakers who initially eschewed comedy for action, supposed scientific truth and an alignment with national myths about rugged individualism.

Keywords:   Australia, film, frontier, D.W. Griffith, imperialism, Frederick Burr Opper, racism

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