1530s, "change of fortunes," from French variété and directly from Latin varietatem (nominative varietas) "difference, diversity; a kind, variety, species, sort," from varius "various" (see vary). Meaning diversity, absence of monotony" is from 1540s; that of "collection of different things" is from 1550s; sense of "something different from others" is from 1610s. In reference to music hall or theatrical performances of a mixed nature, first recorded 1868, American English. The U.S. theater and entertainment industry magazine was founded in 1905 by Sime Silverman.
Variety's grammar is barbarous; its style is original and unique and completely independent of any other writing; its phraseology is wild and revolutionary and its diction is the result of miscegenation among shop talk, slang, Broadway colloquialisms, sporting neologisms and impatient short-cutting. [Hugh Kent, "Variety," American Mercury, December 1926]