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Florenz Ziegfeld

Florenz Ziegfeld Autograph Letter Signed with Historic Broadway Content - 1916

Fine historic and somewhat conspiratorial content Autographed Letter Signed “Flo” on New Amsterdam Theatre letterhead. 2pp 8vo., New York, [n.d. but circa 1916], in pencil to Broadway producer Charles “Chas” Dillingham, Ziegfeld’s partner in other ventures. One marginal chip to right edge, else fine. In full:

Dear Chas:

Suppose you know why Cohan and Harris are letting Hitch out to bring in their Tailor Made Man which they say is like your General Post. I am only telling you this in case you don’t know and might want to beat them to it as they think they are putting one over on you.

Your pard, [“partner”]

FLORENZ ZIEGFELD (1869-1932) American theatrical producer of the Ziegfeld Follies who brought Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, and Will Rogers to the vaudeville stage.

Built in 1903, the New Amsterdam Theater is today, along with the Lyceum Theater, the oldest surviving Broadway venue. Inspired by the Folies Bergères of Paris, Florenz Ziegfeld produced the enormously successful Ziegfeld Follies, which were lavish revues, something between later Broadway shows and a more elaborate high class Vaudeville variety show. Many of the top entertainers of the era (including Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Ann Pennington, Bert Williams, Will Rogers, Ruth Etting, Helen Morgan, Marilyn Miller, W.C. Fields, Ed Wynn, Gilda Gray, Nora Bayes, The Tiller Girls, and others) appeared in the shows. The Ziegfeld Follies were also famous for many beautiful chorus girls commonly known as Ziegfeld girls, usually decked in elaborate costumes by designers such as Erté, Lady Duff Gordon or Ali Ben Hagan, which became the talk of Broadway the following day. The Follies ran at the New Amsterdan Theatre first from 1913-1920 and again from 1922-1927.

George M. Cohan and Sam Harris were hugely successful Broadway producers, partners (and close friends) since 1904 when The Four Cohans (George’s vaudevillian family act) broke up, until 1920. “Hitch” is Raymond Hitchcock, a comic actor and producer who had appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies as well as many Cohan/Harris plays.

Charles Dillingham was a Broadway producer who started his career as a theater reviewer for the New York Evening Post, then became a manager for such actors as Julia Marlowe. He also produced several musicals and musical reviews during his career, including General Post, a satirical play in 1917. (General Post was also the name of an old children’s game, sometimes called Stage Coach, in which at the drop of a handkerchief there is a general scurry that leaves every one quite differently placed). Dillingham and Ziegfeld were partners in the management of the Century Theatre, and in production of the play The Century Girl in 1916.

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