The stage name of Ham Tree Harrington, although reeking of '90s gross-out Ren & Stimpy ultra-meat imagery, actually dates back to the Roaring Twenties. Harrington was a performer of minstrel songs in blackface style, a genre capable of provoking fistfights all on its own, not to mention this artist's own aggressive nature. The mild-mannered Johnny Dunn is only one of the fellow musicians Harrington is reported to have wailed on. The cliché here would be to blame Harrington's size for his mean mood, falling back on the typical "short equals pushy" syndrome -- not a stretch, certainly not in height, when the individual under discussion was actually billed as "The Pint-Sized Bert Williams." Williams was perhaps the biggest star on the minstrel scene: Harrington and his peers such as Eddie Hunter and Shelton Brooks are inevitably discussed in contrast to this bigger-than-life model.
Harrington started out in vaudeville, then did well with a lead part in Strut Miss Lizzie, a 1922 Broadway production. He got particularly good notices for his scared-to-death routine a few years later in Dixie to Broadway. Yet these stage triumphs stand almost alone in his résumé, Harrington apparently finding more consistent work in cabarets and the variety stages he had come up on. He did appear alongside Alberta Hunter in a 1930 musical that unfortunately flopped. He made records for both Brunswick and Vocalion beginning in 1924, including the morose "Nobody Never Let Me in on Nothin'" and the demanding "C.O.D. -- Cash on Delivery." For his later recordings he backed himself on the ukulele. He made no further recordings after 1925 but was captured on film some 14 years later in two all-black films, Keep Punching and The Devil's Daughter.