Florenz Ziegfeld and His Fabulous Follies.
How a man who never even wrote a song changed the face of the American stage, musical productions and America's music.
In 1893, a local Chicago music teacher, Florenz Ziegfeld became
music director for the World's Fair and sent his son, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. to
Europe to seek out talent for the fair. In what might have been a harbinger
of Ziegfeld's approach, he failed to return with any musical talent of note
but did round up a man he touted as the "world's strongest" and exhibited
him in flesh colored tights (eeeeeeoooow!). From this rather ignominious beginning,
Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. established a genre of entertainment that changed the world
of stage performance and popular music. A very complex man; a showman and promoter,
Ziegfeld ruthlessly exploited women over the course of his career, yet at the
same time was a passionate defender of civil rights. In his early follies, Ziegfeld
employed Bert Williams, the first and most successful black performer on vaudeville.
Ziegfeld defended Williams against the racism of others and even once threatened
to move out of his apartment building when the doorman refused entry to Williams
who was coming to Ziegfeld's home for dinner. Ziegfeld brought us stars like
Fanny Brice, Anna Held and Eddie Cantor. Some of America's greatest composers
wrote music and productions for Ziegfeld to stage; Victor Herbert, Irving Berlin,
Jimmy Monaco, The Norworths, William Jerome and many others had a hand in the
music. Yet, in spite of all this music and performance, Ziegfeld himself was
not a musician, not a singer, not a songwriter. He was a promoter, the musical
stage's Barnum whose main stock in trade was women, beautiful women, scantily
clad, sometimes nude and plenty of them.
Ziegfeld Jr. was born in Chicago in 1867. His father was head of the Chicago
Musical College and the young Ziegfeld was immersed in a world of mostly classical
music. This immersion it is said, gave him a lifelong aversion to musical masterpieces
(New Grove, Vol. IV, p. 593.) What did seem to stick
to the young man was a zeal for stage performers and shows as evidenced by his
somewhat failed first mission to Europe. Little seems to have been recorded
about Ziegfeld's early years and it was only after the World's Fair incident
that biographers seem to notice details of his life prior to 1893. On one of
his many trips to Europe, Ziegfeld spotted an alluring young singer, one Anna
Held. Known for the sexy attraction of her luminous eyes, Ziegfeld began dreaming
of bringing her to America. At the time (1896) Held was the darling of Paris
and what author David Ewen described as "the personification of Gallic
naughtiness," (All The Years of American Music, p. 193).
In a show of incredible bravado and daring-do, Ziegfeld wanted to recruit
her even though he had virtually no assets to back up a contract. In what might
have been a testament to his promoter's skills, Ziegfeld took all of his personal
jewels and placed them in a hanky and asked a member of his staff to sell them.
His staff man came back with $1500 which Ziegfeld then cabled in it's entirety
with a proposal that he manage her in America and she take the money for passage
and as an advance. Impressed with this move, Held replied and gave her commitment
to come to America, under his management, and perform in a musical stage play,
A Parlor Match, which opened at the Herald Square Theater on September
2, 1896. " A Parlor Match was the story of a clever hobo who hoodwinks
a gullible millionaire out of his valuables. At one point, the hobo uses a specially
rigged cabinet, producing performing ghosts to prove that his victim's house
is haunted. Held appeared as one of these phony phantoms, singing her popular
hit, Won't You Come and Play With Me?"(from "Anna
Held" by John Kenrick at http://www.musicals101.com/ziegheld.htm
) Though completely broke as a result of his daring move, Ziegfeld's
contract with Held was as good as gold and he managed to finance himself based
on that contract until she arrived and could generate revenues from performance.
Regardless of prior payments or ability to pay, Ziegfeld managed to turn his
obsession to reality and he and Anna Held were married the following year.
For several years, till he established himself as a legitimate
participant in the stage, Ziegfeld was more often known as Anna Held's husband
and sometimes was even called Mr. Anna Held, much to his chagrin, no doubt.
Before he established the Follies, Ziegfeld was known as a dandy, a gambler,
and the aforementioned Anna Held spouse. After Held's arrival, Ziegfeld continued
to find venues for her and managed her career. At the same time, he continued
his efforts to produce and stage various musical productions, most of which
starred Held, of course. In 1901 he produced the show . The Little Duchess
starring Held under the auspices of The F. Ziegfeld Jr. Musical Company. The
show opened Oct. 14, 1901 at the Casino Theater in New York with lyrics and
story by Harry B. Smith, Reginald De Cove; Music by Harry B. Smith, Reginald
De Koven. Among the works in that show was the song, Sadie
by Leo Le Bunn with words by J.P. Harrington, two songwriters who have long
been forgotten. The song is itself rather forgettable; interesting but like
most songs contained in revues or stage productions, unremarkable. Only a few
songs among the many contained in most stage productions go on to become lasting
hits, there are exceptions of course but in general, few survive. It's uncertain
who may have sung this particular work but it could well have been Held. Click
the cover image to hear and see the Scorch
version of the song (it is printable) or
listen to the midi and see the Lyrics .
By this time, vaudeville had already caused the creation of a
new form of musical theater. In the mid to late 1890's the revue had sprung
forth from the mind of George Lederer. While vaudeville was a discontinuous
collection of unrelated acts, Lederer conceived of placing these acts in an
impressive setting and combining the traditional vaudeville mix of acts with
burlesque, fabulous sets and costumes. To this he added satires of current plays
and performers, beautiful women posing in what he called "living pictures"
and production numbers. Though performances within the revue often included
interpolations of existing songs, Lederer added a twist, songs written especially
for the production, thus making it a new and identifiable stage production.
Lederer's first revue, The Passing Show was staged May 12, 1894 at New
York's Casino Theater (All The Years.., p. 192). The
revue became so popular soon there were imitators and the format became a staple
of the Broadway scene. As Ewen said in his book, All The Years Of American
Popular Music, "It was a feast for the eye and a treat for the other
senses. It glorified female beauty, it emphasized costuming, scenery and stage
technology. Effect was given precedence over detail." This was the scene
into which the twenty-something Flo Ziegfeld brought his talents for promotion
to bear and perhaps unlike no other, he took the idea of the revue and dominated
the genre for the next 30 years establishing a stage legend that lasts to this
day. However, it would take him a decade to codify his ideas into a coherent
format that would take the New York stage by storm.
By 1905, though Anna Held still was a top star and generated revenues
for the couple, the dandy Ziegfeld's lavish lifestyle had placed them in a continuous
state of debt. Anna was despondent and their funds continued to dwindle till
they had reached the point of literal bankruptcy. According to Edward B. Marks,
(They All Sang, p. 141) a contemporary of Ziegfeld, in
spite of their financial straights, Ziegfeld, Anna and Gustave Kerker (composer,
lyricist) went to France with the last of their money. While Anna distracted
herself with friends, Gus and Flo went to the casino. Though most people who
turn to such desperate and irresponsible actions often end up losing everything,
Ziegfeld hit it lucky and won so much that when he returned to their room, Ziegfeld
lined every inch of her bed with gold coins and then drew the sheets over them
to surprise her. According to Marks, Ziegfeld's lavish style was continuous,
regardless of his finances and so he always was cycling through being broke,
rich then broke again. His penchant for gambling did not help and in one case,
he lost 100,000 FF in Biarritz at baccarat. Interestingly, he claimed the game
was rigged and never paid his debt though years later the Casino had sued him
for it but never managed to collect.
In 1906, Ziegfeld staged a production, A Parisian Model,
starring Held that was his last major production before introducing his famed
follies revue. In this show Anna performed what may be her most famous song,
I Just Can't Make My Eyes Behave, written
by Will D. Cobb and Gus Edwards. The
play was so well received, it actually had two separate runs on Broadway. The
first beginning November 27, 1906 at the Broadway Theater enjoyed a respectable
179 performances before closing and the second also at the Broadway opened on
January 6, 1908 but only ran for 21 performances. The song and the show, like
most Ziegfeld shows up to this time, clearly is designed to continue to capitalize
on the charms of Anna Held and her eyes. Not to be disrespectful, but I have
always thought her eyes a little creepy. Almost a bit like Marty Feldman. The
above poster with various eye shots as well as this cover and another that was
published in 1918 we featured back in February,
1998 What Do You Want To Make Those
Eyes At Me For? (When They Don't Mean What They Say!) (MIDI format)
all seem rather bizarre to me, but times and tastes change and it is clear that
Anna Held was a fascinating subject and held the male public's attention for
many years. Click the cover image or here to hear and see the Scorch
version of the song or listen to the midi
and see the Lyrics . For biographical information
about Cobb and Edwards, see our composer
biography reference page.
Soon after Held's success in A Parisian Model, Ziegfeld
began plans for what he called, an American equivalent of the Follies Bergères.
He dreamed of a spectacular revue that would feature feminine beauty. It is
said by some, that Anna Held had the creative inspiration behind the first Ziegfeld
Follies but it would be Ziegfeld's promotional genius that would make it a reality.
On July 8, 1907 at the New York Theater, Ziegfeld presented his first follies.
He populated the show with, in his words, "the Anna Held girls, fifty of
the most beautiful women ever gathered in one theater." (Ewen,
p. 194) Several of the women were imported from Paris however in a bizarre
twist of Ziegfeld logic, Anna Held was not one of the "Anna Held girls"
who would perform. The show did include several of America's more popular performers
including Emma Carus, Annabelle Whitford (in bloomers as the "Gibson Bathing
Girl," see photo)
and Dave Lewis. In what would be a first that foreshadowed the "drum and
dance" shows that are popular today, one scene had the chorus marching
up and down the aisles while beating on drums. The show included plenty of daring
costumes, comedy and burlesque routines and was reported in one New York review
as "the best melange of mirth, music and pretty girls that has been seen
here in many summers." So began the first in a nearly thirty year series
of the Ziegfeld Follies; the Follies of 1907. From '07 until 1931 with breaks
only in '26, '28 and '29, Ziegfeld produced his follies and set a standard for
the revue that would not again be matched or exceeded. It established Ziegfeld
as the foremost showman of the period and gave American music a showcase that
would be invaluable. However, it would be the women of Ziegfeld Follies that
would capture the hearts of America and establish an image of the follies that
would remain to this day. Ziegfeld's displays of feminine beauty were bold and
daring and became more bold with each edition. He went from the suggestive to
the explicit over time however never quite crossing the line to full nudity.
In later years, his competitors would even exceed his daring. With each successive
Follies Ziegfeld was more successful at revealing more beautiful females and
more of their bodies.
The 1908 Follies firmly established the revue as a Broadway fixture.
Nora Bayes, a singer and comedienne shocked
the audience with her performance of When Mother Was A Girl as did "The
Taxicab Girls," a group of very scantily clad (for those days) women with
headlights (guess where) and signs that said "to hire" on red flags.
Bayes also introduced one of America's greatest lasting hits that same show
when she performed Shine on Harvest
Moon. (MIDI) An English performer, Lucy Weston performed a scandalous
"Garden of Eden" number. When roundly criticized for her poor singing,
Weston replied, "what difference does it make while I have dimples on my
knees?" Not to be outdone by his own prior efforts, in 1909 Ziegfeld paraded
out "girls representing every state of the union," with miniature
battleships on their heads who danced to national patriotic airs. In what would
be a fantastic ending, the stage was darkened and the ships were illuminated
with electric lights against a background of the buildings on New York."
(Marks) What a showman! According to accounts, the first
Follies cost $13,000 to stage. By 1919 the extravagant Ziegfeld's efforts to
provide dazzling sets and shows had pushed the cost to well over $100,000 plus
In 1910, Ziegfeld hired one of his greatest stars, Fanny Brice
who became a favorite star of his revues for the remainder of the series and
continued her career well beyond. We'll learn more about her and her songs later.
Also in 1910, Ziegfeld added a fabulous stunt where the star Lillian Lorraine
rode onto the stage on a pony and the stage elevator lifted them onto a swing
and she and the pony swung high over the audience as the swing rode around a
track in the ceiling. The Follies continued to feature wonderful songs from
some of America's best known songwriters. A feature in a Follies edition could
make a song a hit, regardless of it's true value. The show both featured existing
songs as well as songs of it's own design, composed specifically for the revue.
David Jasen in his 1988 book Tin Pan Alley states that he believes that
the show itself generated no real hits save a few. That may be generally true,
but from the Follies and because of the Follies, many songs became major hits
that otherwise may not have been noticed. I tend to disagree with Jasen, it
seems that there were a large number
of memorable hit songs that were written expressly for the Follies, including
some of the greatest all time hits of the era. One of the more forgettable songs
though is the 1911 comedy song, Dog Gone That Chilly Man,
by Irving Berlin. Interestingly, the sheet music only credits Berlin, but the
cover shows Vincent Bryan as a co-writer. Berlin was not one to share the spotlight
after his same year hit Alexander's Ragtime Band made him famous. The cover
by Frew is an art deco piece that features the follies and the 1911 theme, "Jardin
de Paris." The song is a bit of a prequel to many of the "flapper"
songs we would see emerge in the twenties. A lament (again, scandalous) by a
young woman about her beau's lack of interest in her and his failure to provide
her with some hot loving. Not really one of Berlin's best works however in spite
of this song's questionable value, Berlin was a frequent contributor to the
Follies and had many a hit that emerged from the various shows. This same year,
Berlin penned a much more successful song for the Follies titled Woodman,
Woodman Spare That Tree. Click the cover image or here to hear and see the
Scorch version of Chilly Man
(it is printable) or listen to the midi
and see the Lyrics .
of the more well known and lasting hits to come from the Follies was this 1912
beauty, Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee by
Henry I. Marshall and Stanley Murphy. Yet another novelty song, this one is
fun and with a musically very memorable chorus. No doubt this one had the audience
leaving the theater humming or whistling the tune. It is an infectious tune,
the kind that gets stuck in your head till you begin to hate it, yet still endearing.
The song was introduced in the Follies by the Dolly
Sisters. Later, the song was recorded by Ada Jones & Billy Murray and it
was sung in the 1944 film, Irish Eyes Are Smiling by June Haver. Then
in 1953, it appeared in two separate films, By The Light of the Silvery Moon,
sung by Doris Day and Russell Arms then in The Eddie Cantor Story, appropriately
dubbed by Eddie Cantor for Keefe Brasselle. As with many of the songs featured
in the Follies, big name songwriters such as Murphy provided much of the music.
Click the cover image or here to hear and see the Scorch
version of the song or listen to the midi
and see the Lyrics .
Interestingly, much of the music that Ziegfeld presented in his
Follies was quite different from that which was concurrently being produced
by Tin Pan Alley. Edward Marks in 1935 described it as a "gap" that
reflected the transition taking place around this period in America's music.
Much of the commercial music at the time was dirge like and so full of emotion
as to be tawdry and falsely attractive. Marks described the music as akin to
potted plants and "full of quavers, false notes and fake sentiments."
(Marks, p. 144). Such songs as The Curse of An Aching
Heart and Bird
In A Gilded Cage ruled the sheet music sales charts but in general, Ziegfeld
introduced music that was more reality based, humorous and of course, scandalous.
In spite of that, a few of the meretricious songs did manage to make their way
into the follies and Isle D'Amour, by Leo
Edwards and Earl Carrol seems to fit the bill quite well. Actually, a quite
melodic and artistic work written in a through composed manner, the song is
quite fetching and I enjoyed it. The performer, Jose Collins on the cover, introduced
the song and the photo appears to be an attempt at the Anna Held "eyes"
look. In some respects, the cover photo fits the tawdry descriptor Marks mentioned
quite well. Earl Carrol, the lyricist of course was the creator and producer
of the Earl Carrol Vanities which appeared in 1923. The Vanities,
as well as some other revues that appered in competition with Ziegfeld went
a step betond the Follies and presented more nudity. Carrol pressed the law
to the limits by presenting the girls as nude as was possible. Living curtains
presented the girls draped in veils and feathers that barely and often did not
conceal all of their charms. In the meanwhile, Carrol was a frequent contributor
to the Follies till his own revue required his full attention. Click the cover
image or here to hear and see the Scorch
version of Isle D'Amour or listen to the
midi and see the Lyrics .
Though music from all the greats of Tin Pan Alley appeared in
the Follies, over the years, Ziegfeld generally had one or two key composers
who wrote the original music for each show and the basic musical theme. Among
them were some of the greatest writers of the times. Dave Stamper, Gene Buck,
Raymond Hubbell and Louis Hirsh all were instrumental in writing the base story
lines and production numbers that provided the continuity between all of the
various scenes and songs. Louis Hirsch
provided songs for a number of editions from 1915 till 1922. In 1915, 16, 18
and 22, he provided all of the original songs. This rather odd song, Marie
Odile was composed by Louis Hirsh with lyrics provided by Channing
Pollack and Reynnold Wolf. It appeared in the 1915 edition of the Follies and
tells the tale of a young lady in a convent, ignorant of the truth of love and
baby making. The lyrics are a bit enigmatic but one must read between the lines.
The young woman meets a soldier and though never said, it appears she learns
some earthly lessons as a result. Musically, I personally find the song a bit
lumbering and cumbersome. It never seems to gel and goes on well past the point
of welcome with four verses. I'm sure its appeal is in the story, not the music
and the tale itself fits well with the Ziegfeld penchant for shock. I suspect
Catholics were not too enthralled with the story of a nun gone wrong. In 1912
Hirsch was hired by the Schuberts and as a result he was involved in a number
of successful productions with them including, The Whirl of Society,
1912, also starring Al Jolson; The Passing Show of 1912; Always Together,
and The Wedding Guide. In 1913, Hirsch quit the Schuberts, and traveled
to England, only to return to the U.S. at the start of WW1. He went to work
for Florenz Ziegfeld. Working mainly with lyricist Gene Buck, he wrote songs
for several productions of the famed Ziegfeld Follies. Among his many hits are;
Sweet Kentucky Lady, (MIDI)
1914; Hello Frisco!, 1915, Going Up from the musical of the same
name in 1917; and the 1920 hit Love Nest perhaps Hirsch's most successful
song, which later became the Burns and Allen radio show theme. Un fortunately,
Hirsch died at the peak of his powers in 1924 of pneumonia. Click the cover
image or here to hear and see the Scorch
version of Marie Odile (it is printable) or
listen to the midi and see the Lyrics .
Ziegfeld's shows were not only hit makers, they were star makers
as well. We've already mentioned some of the greatest stars of the period and
their relationship to Ziegfeld but perhaps none were as great and lasting stars
as the extremely talented Eddie Cantor. Cantor, an orphan from New York's east
side was raised by his grandmother who was a street peddler. Cantor was enthralled
by the stage and when he won an amateur night contest, he could not be deterred
from pursuing a
career on the stage. He worked various jobs as a singing comedian in burlesque,
a singing waiter and other dead end performance venues. It was only when Gus
Edwards picked him up as one of the schoolboys to appear in Edward's act in
vaudeville that Cantor gained notice. Ziegfeld spotted him and hired him for
the Follies of 1917. It was with the song, That's The
Kind Of A Baby For Me, by J.C. Egan and Alfred Harriman that
Cantor literally stopped the show. A novelty song, quite funny about a man who
is lucky enough to meet and fall for a woman of great means who spends lavishly
and pays for everything. Even at that, we have the usual hint of scandal when
we learn that the money's source is a weekly alimony check. This song was the
very first recorded by Cantor (on Victor) and established him as a full fledged
Ziegfeld star. Ziegfeld thought so much of Cantor that he produced several separate
musicals just to showcase Cantor's skills. This song was a huge hit and it is
said that at every performance of the 1917 follies, the audience encouraged
twelve or more repeats of the song. It's a good song, but twelve repeats?
Click the cover image or here to hear and see the Scorch
version of Cantor's first hit or listen
to the midi and see the Lyrics .
same year, 1917, as the US appeared headed to join the war, patriotic sentiments
ran high and Cantor introduced a snappy war song that also became quite popular;
The Dixie Volunteers by the tremendous
song writing team of Edgar Leslie and Harry Ruby. "With eyes virtually
popping out of their sockets" (Ewen, p. 195) and
with large glassless horn rims, Eddie Cantor delighted the audience as he clapped
his hands and jumped around the stage while singing. His unbridled joy and enthusiasm
was infectious and as we well know, Cantor went on to enjoy a long career on
stage, film and even early television before his death in 1964. This is a fairly
typical war song about boys from a particular area who are doing their patriotic
duty and heading off to war to die for our freedom. A really jaunty and happy
melody accompanies the lyrics to this great song. With a high energy gait, it
is a perfect fit with Cantor's style and I'm sure that the audience reacted
with delight as he undoubtedly hopped around the stage performing this excellent
song. The cover is by Barbelle. For information about the songwriters, Leslie
& Ruby, see our composers
biographies. Click the cover image or here to hear and see the Scorch
version of Cantor's Dixie Volunteers or
listen to the midi and see the Lyrics.
Two of the most prolific contributors of original music to the
Follies were Gene Buck (1885 - 19570 and Dave Stamper (1883 - 1963). Stamper
began writing songs for Ziegfeld in 1912 and continued to do so for the run
of the revue. Buck was considered the principal lyricist for the Follies and
he too began his career with Ziegfeld in 1912. Their first song together for
the 1912 edition was Daddy Has A Sweetheart And Mother Is Her Name, a
song that went on like so many others to become widely popular. Interestingly,
Buck had his Tin Pan Alley beginnings not as a songwriter butas
a sheet music cover artist. His name as an artist can be found on a number of
covers, many of which we have featured over the years. Though the year 1919
featured this song, Tulip Time with music
by Dave Stamper and lyrics by Gene Buck, the overall score for the 1919 edition
was written by none other than Irving Berlin. This would be the edition that
premiered a song that from this time forward would become the hallmark song
for the Follies, as well as just about every fashion and beauty show in America;
A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody, arguably the greatest song to come from
the Follies. Competing against that song might be like my high school football
team trying to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes, but in spite of that, other songs
managed to put on a good showing. The quality of Stamper and Buck's work shines
through with this song. The cover image is a wonderful "Vargas" style
art deco (unfortunately, unsigned) of a female who is veiled and in the Ziegfeld
style, shockingly revealed. The opening verse melody is a languid ballad one
that takes us to Holland, the land of tulips for a love chorus. Of course a
tulip song about love would have a mandatory line about "two lips"
and this song is no exception. The chorus is quite nice and overall, the song
is excellent. The song was sung by Dave Steel and Delyle Alda in the Follies
and Steel went on to record the song on Victor backed by A Pretty Girl Is
Like A Melody on the flip side. Click the cover image or here to hear and
see the Scorch version of
Tulip Time (it is printable) or listen
to the midi and see the Lyrics .
Ziegfeld continued to expand the show and each year tried to outdo
the last. The Shows became more and more grandiose and Ziegfeld's extravagance
for lavish sets and production in the most expansive fashion became legendary.
In one case, he paid an actress $650 and dressed her in a $1200 gown just to
walk across the stage in a single scene. In another case he once ordered a set
for $25,000 and once it was finished, he discarded it for being too garish.
Each production became more expensive and ambitious than the last and as always,
Ziegfeld tottered on the line between being financially flush or broke all the
while. Among the many other stars who Ziegfeld "made" was one Fanny
Brice (1891 - 1951). From humble beginnings as a performer in a shabby burlesque
house, Ziegfeld made Brice a headliner whose success would carry on well past
her death and into contemporary art with the making of a movie about her, Funny
Girl, starring Barbara Streisand. Brice's first appearance in the Follies
was 1910 when she sang Lovey Joe by Will Marion Cook and Joe Jordan and
a Berlin Yiddish dialect song, Goodbye Becky Cohen. According to Ewen,
Ziegfeld had hired Brice at $75 per week but the morning after her wildly successful
debut, he tore up her contract and gave her a new one, "befitting a star."
Brice appeared in every Ziegfeld Follies from 1910 to 1923 except one and later
in the Schubert reincarnation of the Follies in 1934 and 1936. Many of the Follies
songs were written expressly for her unique brand of comedic performance but
two stand out to this day as exemplifying Brice. Her unique blend of facial
expressions, gawky gestures and expressive eyes (there is that eye thing again!)
made her a perfect and unique performer of comedic songs. In 1920 and then again
in 1921, James F. Hanley composed works expressly for Brice. The first was the
fabulous Rose of Washington Square with
lyrics by Ballard MacDonald. Though written with Brice in mind the song was
cleverly written with two sets of lyrics, both eons apart in meaning and style.
We've included both in our Scorch version and in the lyrics link (see below
links) so you can compare them. One set of lyrics is called the "comedic
version," the other the "ballad version." Blessed with a wonderfully
memorable and timeless melody, the song has remained a lasting favorite. It
has been recorded often and has appeared in films and other stage shows including
a performance by Alice Faye in the 1939 film of the same name, Thoroughly
Modern Millie in 1967 and a production at the 1964 World's fair, To Broadway
With Love, sung by Millie Slavin. The cover of this sheet has a great picture
of Brice in one of her typical comedic poses. Click the cover image or here
to hear and see the Scorch
version of Brice's song or listen to the
midi and see the Lyrics .
The second song by Hanley for Brice was as big a hit, or maybe
bigger than the first. For the 1921 edition of the
Follies he teamed up with Grant Clarke to produce the great hit song Second
Hand Rose which Brice performed and which is considered one of
her best from the Follies. This song also was revived in a recording by Streisand
in 1966 and she performed it in the film, Funny Girl. Brice of course
recorded it on Columbia and then performed it in the 1929 film, My Man.
This song, like none other sung by Brice is most associated with her. A wildly
humorous song with an extremely memorable melody, it has once again become a
hit and achieved a lasting place in musical history. The song tells the story
of a sad girl whose father owns a second hand shop and as a result, she and
the rest of the family must endure the stigma of never having anything of their
own and always having hand me down clothes. Everything from the piano to toothpicks,
the family dog and cat and jewelry is second hand. In the ultimate embarrassment,
Rose is seen in a hotel wearing a coat which the previous owner recognizes and
points out to others. Click the cover image or here to hear and see the Scorch
version of Second hand Rose or listen to
the midi and see the Lyrics .
As the teens and twenties passed, more and more producers were
both envious of and tried to emulate Ziegfeld's success. In addition, even Ziegfeld
himself began producing some smaller scale shows called the Frolics. By 1922
and onward, the competition became much more intense. Movies were coming into
their own and as a result, Ziegfeld found attendance dwindling and his incredible
run perhaps coming to an end. By 1923, some of the competitive revues taking
audiences were the Negro Plantation Revue, Katinka, Earl Carroll's Vanities,
The Grenwich Village Follies, The Passing Show, Artists and Models, Berlin's
Music Box Revue and the Scandals. Still, Ziegfeld managed to carry on for at
least a few more years. The Follies of 1922 featured music by Victor Herbert,
considered by many to be the reigning king of American music. Herbert joined
forces with Buck, Stamper and Hirsch to make the greatest team of songwriters
Ziegfeld had seen yet. They collaborated to create several tunes, including
this one, Weaving My Dreams. The cover
of this song is a wonderful array of photos of some of the beautiful women who
appeared in the Follies. Both the front and the back pages are filled with photos
and we've provided both for you to see. Just place your mouse over the cover
image and it will flip to the back side. The song is really a wonderfully dreamy
one and quite typical of Victor Herbert's rather expansive and almost classical
style. Through composed with an optional repeat of the chorus, as are many of
Herbert's songs, it has a wonderful melody and sweet thoughts in the lyrics.
The music is simple but not simplistic. Harmonically it is one of Herbert's
best and deserves a place of permanence rather than it's current fate of obscurity.
I find it to be quite expressive and very touching. Click the cover image or
here to hear and see the Scorch
version of Weaving My Dreams (it is printable) or
listen to the midi and see the Lyrics .
For five more years beyond 1922, Ziegfeld continued to produce
the Follies in ever more grand and extravagant splendor. However, competing
revues and productions were slowly taking away some of his greatest stars. Fanny
Brice left in 1923, Bert Williams had gone in 1919, Will Rodgers left after
1924 and W.C. Fields in 1925. Yet, Ziegfeld never lost his commitment and dedication
to presenting the ultimate in stage entertainment. Though he produced many other
shows other than the follies, most notably the tremendous Jerome Kern hit show
Show Boat in 1927, the Follies continued to be his "baby." Anna Held
had long ago deserted him, in 1912 as a result of at least one open affair with
one of his "girls" and he later married the actress Billie Burke in
1914. His final Follies in the uninterrupted series, the 1927 edition had reached
a pinnacle of expense costing over $300,000 before the first curtain came up
That edition was also the only one to be completely scored by one composer,
Irving Berlin. It also was the first to feature but one star, Eddie Cantor rather
than a gaggle of them. That same year, 1927, Ziegfeld opened his own theater,
The Ziegfeld. The last Follies to be produced by Ziegfeld came in 1931, a year
before his death. It was nothing special, contained a rehash of some past shows
and a master of ceremonies.
After Ziegfeld died in 1932 four more editions appeared, produced
by his widow Billie Burke with help from the Schubert Brothers. In 1934 and
1936, Fanny Brice returned to the Follies and the '36 show featured Bob Hope
as well as some other notables from past editions. Hope once said that singing
the Vernon Duke song I Can't Get Started With You in the Follies was
the key to his entry into the movies. The 1936 edition would also mark the last
time Fanny Brice would be seen on stage. Her career continued in radio as Baby
Snooks till a brain hemorrhage killed her in 1951. The 1943 Follies was the
longest running of them all. Starring Milton Berle and featuring many great
songs from Jack Yellen and Ray Henderson. It ran for 553 performances. The final
Ziegfeld follies was staged in 1957, as a 50 year celebration on the beginning
of the Follies. Unfortunately as the reviewer Louis Kronenberger said; "The
spirit had all but vanished; the songs had no tunefulness, the lyrics no bounce,
the sketches no crackle, and though the dances had moments, they lacked distinction.
Running only 123 performances, the Ziegfeld Follies finally faded from the American
scene. Ziegfeld's bold moves and vision in the early 20th century changed the
American stage. It also changed America's music as well, but inadvertently.
Ziegfeld was a promoter, a producer and many other things but he was not a musician.
Music was incidental to his extravaganzas, perhaps even seen by him as a necessary
evil. But his ideas and the attraction his shows had for the public created
a venue where many of America's best composers, songwriters and singers could
showcase their talent and gain notice. As a result, hundreds of new songs were
written, new songwriters encouraged and the public's thirst for new and unique
music was slated. His music was unique and bridged the style of American music
from the sleepy and emotional times of the 1890's to the new and exciting music
of the jazz age.
That completes this month's feature and addition to our "In Search Of"
series. Unlike most features, this one is complete on this page, there is no second
page. We hope you've enjoyed this article and the music and will come back to
explore more of our features and articles. See our resources
page for a complete bibliography of all other resources used to research this
and other articles in our series.
If you'd like to contribute an article to us at ParlorSongs, we'd love to have
your help and contribution. The "rules"
for submissions can be found here, we'd love to have submissions by any
of our readers, anytime and would enjoy having a "reader submission"
or "favorites" feature from time to time. Heck, get involved, help
us out and write a feature for us!