This page is taken from the Proctors Anniversary Program.
One of the better known backstage mascots in American Theatres in the days of vaudeville might well have been a tawny part-German Shepherd named Asbestos, better known to stagehands and performers as “Azzy.”

As the story goes, Azzy, the runt of a litter of 13 pups was given to Fred Winkler in 1923 by an actor who played at the old Proctor’s Theatre on Liberty Street and the Canal. Winkler, then manager of the theatre, kept the pup backstage, and Azzy soon became a favorite of all who had business there.

When new Proctor’s opened, Azzy moved with the management, and was soon ensconced in a special bed prepared for him in the “green room” backstage. Here, the mascot welcomed all visitors and became friends with those who played Proctor’s on the vaudeville circuit. Each day, Azzy visited the dressing rooms and was gently patted by the occupants “for luck.”

Azzy was a pal to Ben Bernie, Paul Whiteman, Count Bernie Vici, Red Skelton, Esther Palston, Blackstone the Magician, Little Jack Little, Will Osborne, Duke Ellington, Guy Lombardo, Don Bester and many others. It was Ben Bernie who took the dog on walks around downtown Schenectady between shows and who frequently brought back a steak for him after dining at Nicholaus.
How’s Azzy?” was the first thing Fats Waller would ask when he came to town. When Ackerman J. Gill was Proctor’s manager, he often said that on his weekly visits to New York, many actors and actresses in the booking offices greeted him with “Hello there. How’s Azzy?”

By Christmas of 1938, Asbestos was showing his age. He became less and less inclined to wander around the theatre or to eat the treats his backstage pals brought him. He didn’t even pay attention to a rubber squeak toy left by Ben Bernie as a Christmas present the week before.

Gruff stagehands were not ashamed to wipe away a few tears when their longtime friend died January 18, 1939. They knew that backstage would never be the same without Azzy.