Ziegfeld Follies

From Academic Kids

The Ziegfeld Follies were a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931.

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ZigfeldFollies1912.jpg
Image:ZigfeldFollies1912.jpg


Promotional artwork for 1912 Ziegfeld Follies

Inspired by the Folies Bergères of Paris, and reportedly suggested to Ziegfeld by his wife, actress/entertainer Anna Held, the Ziegfeld Follies were produced and managed by Florenz Ziegfeld.

The Follies were lavish revues, something in 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, Bert Williams, Will Rogers, Ruth Etting, Helen Morgan, Marilyn Miller, W.C. Fields, Ed Wynn, Nora Bayes, and others) appeared in the shows. The Ziegfeld Follies were also famous for many beautiful chorus girls (which, over the years, included many future stars such as Marion Davies, Paulette Goddard, Joan Blondell, Eve Arden, Barbara Stanwyck, and Louise Brooks. Norma Shearer and Alice Faye were turned down by Ziegfeld for being "not up to standards".) The girls were usually decked in elaborate costumes by designer Erte, which became the talk of Broadway the following day.

After Flo Ziegfeld's death, his widow Billie Burke authorized use of his name for Ziegfeld Follies of 1934 (featuring Fanny Brice and a young Buddy Ebsen) and 1936 (featuring Brice, Bob Hope, The Nicholas Brothers, Eve Arden, Josephine Baker, and Gypsy Rose Lee). The name was later used by other promoters in New York City (w/ Milton Berle as emcee), Philadelphia (w/ Tallulah Bankhead as emcee w/ young Bea Arthur and Julie Newmar in the cast), and again on Broadway (w/ Beatrice Lillie as emcee) with less connection to the original Follies. These latter efforts failed miserably.

The 1936 Best Picture winner for that year was The Great Ziegfeld, starring William Powell as the master showman. Co-starring Myrna Loy (as Ziegfeld's 2nd wife Billie Burke), Luise Rainer {as Anna Held which won her a Best Actress Academy Award, and Frank Morgan (as a rival showman). Featuring numbers by Ray Bolger, Dennis Morgan, Virginia Bruce, and Harriet Hoctor, the film gave a glimpse into what the Follies were really like. The MGM blockbuster's show-stopper was "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody", which cost more than Ziegfeld could put together a show!

There was also a 1946 feature motion picture entitled "Ziegfeld Follies" with Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, William Powell, Gene Kelly, Fanny Brice, Red Skelton, Esther Williams, Cyd Charisse, Lucille Ball, Kathryn Grayson, and others performing songs and sketches similar to those from the original Follies; see: Ziegfeld Follies (1946 movie).

The Follies

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