1913 Follies Poster
Sowman Florenz Ziegfeld started his Ziegfeld Follies in 1907. The shows ran on Broadway until 1931 and became a New York City institution. He was reportedly inspired by seeing the Folies Bergeres in Paris.
The Follies were not that different from contemporary vaudeville shows. However vaudeville was never considered completely respectable. But the Follies has a more wholesome, upscale reputation.
The Ziegfield Follies most popular feature was it's elaborate musical production numbers featuring lots of pretty girls. The costumes ranged from rather modest to pretty revealing.To be fair however, it was more than the showgirls that was responsible for the great popularity of the Follies. The best comedians and singers of the era also graced the stage of Ziegfeld's Follies, including Sophie Tucker, Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers.
1915 Follies Poster
Florenz Ziegfeld, nicknamed Flo, was born in 1867 in Chicago. The first entertainment job he had was managing an act during the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893. Florenz was a pretty good showman and quickly proved himself to be a master of publicity. Eventually he married Billy Burke, who was famous for her performance as the good witch in the Wizard of Oz.
Flo was good at his job, but he was not very good with money, often overspending and getting into dept. After he died in 1932, his widow was left with many debts. This forced her to return to acting in Hollywood. She also eventually authorized a film biography of her late husband. The film, which starred William Powell, won an Oscar for Best Picture.
1920 Sheet Music Cover
Ziegfield Follies 1946 Movie Poster
1946 Feature Film
Unlike the 1936 film, this 1946 feature barely had any plot at all. There is a skeleton of a plot to hold together the many musical numbers, several featuring the pretty girls and racy costumes that had made the Follies famous.
The movie was directed by Vincent Minelli for MGM Studios and featured many of the studio's contract actors, including Red Skelton, Gene Kelly, Lena Horne, Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball and Judy Garland. Fanny Brice who was one of the Ziegfeld Follies most popular acts was also featured in the film.
Ziegfield Follies 1946 Movie
1921 Sheet Music Cover
Fanny Brice was born in 1891 as Fania Borach, a name she changed when she entered show business.. She was in burleque for a couple of years before she joined the Follies in 1910. Brice was a very popular performer at the Follies.
Brice originated her famous character, Baby Snooks, when she was at the Follies. The character, a precocious little girl, later was also very successful on the radio.
Fanny Brice, in addition to being a comedian, was considered quite a good singer. Her 2 signature songs were My Man and Second Hand Rose. Both of these songs became very famous and were included in the soundtrack of Funny Girl, the 1960's biography of Brice, which starred Barbra Streisand.