Florenz Ziegfeld

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Florenz Ziegfeld

Signed Autograph Album Page

Signed autograph album page, with separate vintage photo.

FANNY BRICE (1891-1951) was a popular and influential American comedienne, singer, theatre and film actress, who made many stage, radio and film appearances but is best remembered as the creator and star of the top-rated radio comedy series, The Baby Snooks Show. Thirteen years after her death, she was portrayed on the Broadway stage by Barbra Streisand in the musical Funny Girl. The musical was made into a film in 1968.

To Florenz Ziegfeld, entrepreneur of the sensual and creator of The Ziegfeld Follies, a comedian was someone who kept audiences distracted while his beloved chorus girls were changing costumes. Still, he would have only the best—Will Rogers, WC Fields, Bert Williams—and when he heard Fanny sing “Sadie Salome, Go Home” with a Yiddish accent in a Broadway burlesque, he knew that with her onstage his girls could take their time.

Fanny Brice was almost 19. She had been born on the Lower East Side and brought up above a saloon in Newark. She was tall and skinny—a drawback in 1910, when chorus girls were at the very least statuesque. Skinny was funny. A comedian could capitalize on skinny.

The dream of every dancer, singer and comic in America was to make the Follies, so on the day Fanny arrived at work and was handed a telegram signed “Florenz Ziegfeld”, she thought it was a joke. Still, what if… She didn’t know that correspondence by telegram was Ziegfeld’s style. On a hunch she telephoned. A moment later, she was whooping down Broadway.

After she signed the Follies contract, Fanny recovered enough to thank Ziegfeld in her most ladylike manner. She thanked the secretary. She thanked the doorman. Then she raced back down Broadway and stood outside the burlesque house all afternoon, grabbing people, showing them.

Many more contracts followed. For 20 years, Fanny sang her funny/sad songs and lampooned ballet dancers in graceful poses and society ladies from Sutton Place and Oyster Bay. And Ziegfeld smiled his tender smile and wrote out his generous checks, because the Follies wasn’t the Follies without Fanny.


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