Wayburn, Ned (1874–1942) By Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara
Ned Wayburn was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 30 March 1874, and raised in Chicago. He studied at the Hart Conway Chicago School of Elocution while working as an engineer for the family business, Weyburn (sic) Machinery Co. There, he was trained in military drills and in ‘harmonic Gymnastics’, by a second-generation Delsarte teacher: Ida Simpson-Serven. He worked in vaudeville as a pianist, while developing dance acts with integrated lighting effects. Moving to New York, he gained a reputation with Feature Acts. Among his 300+ dance direction and stage direction credits are three groups of shows to which he brought innovations: plotted musical comedies with Lew Fields for and about contemporary 1911–14 businessman audiences, topical revues, especially with Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., and roof garden revues. He was equally famous for developing individual specialties for performers in vaudeville and on Broadway. Wayburn ran a New York studio and Home-Study Course, which he advertised as delivering ‘Health, Beauty and Independence’ to prospective women students. In the 1920s, he added radio production and training and was experimenting with television revues just before his death in 1942.