Thursday, May 14, 2020

THE GREAT ZIEGFELD BLOGATHON: Flo, Irving, and the Follies


Zoe Krainik at Hollywood Genes is hosting The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon on May 15 - 17.  Day 1  Day 2  Day 3

Follies star Fanny Brice

Legendary impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (1867-1932) was brought up with an appreciation of culture from his Belgium and German immigrant parents. Flo's American roots gave him the energetic taste which enabled him to tap into what would entertain his late 19th and early 20th-century audience. By 1910, Flo would present his 21st Broadway show and the fourth version of his "Follies."

In 1910, songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was on the cusp of his first great success with Alexander's Ragtime Band and he had his first song in a Ziegfeld show. Ziegfeld Follies of 1910 featured Fanny Brice singing the comic Goodbye, Becky Cohen. The song appears lost to show business history as it was not recorded or copyrighted.


Irving and lyricist Vincent Bryan contributed tunes to Ziegfeld Follies of 1911 including the comic Woodman, Spare That Tree for Follies star Bert Williams. This would be the last time in Irving's career that he would collaborate with another songwriter. Irving is credited as the lone writer for Go to Sleep, My Baby his lone contribution for Ziegfeld Follies of 1915.

Sgt. Irving Berlin

Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 reflected the wartime era in which it was produced. Irving Berlin tunes featured included I'll Pin a Medal on the Girl I Left Behind, The Blue Devil's (of France), and Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.

Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning was composed by Sgt. Irving Berlin while stationed at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York. The musical complaint found immediate congenial sympathy with other soldiers and was featured in the revue Yip Yip Yaphank, which also ran on Broadway in 1918.


Ziegfeld Follies of 1919 ran for 171 performances and featured the following Irving Berlin tunes: A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody, Mandy, which became one of Follies star Eddie Cantor's greatest hits, You'd Be Surprised.

Also in the lineup, but slowly, and surely becoming behind the times we find The Follies Minstrels and I Love a Minstrel Show. Next, we find the rather prescient grouping of Prohibition, You Cannot Make Your Shimmy Shake on Tea, A Syncopated Cocktail, The Near Future, plus the timely We Made Doughnuts Over There and I've Got My Captain Working for Me Now.


Irving's were not the songs that won the audience's hearts in Ziegfeld Follies of 1920 which would have a run of 123 performances. Flo's success with the format had seen in influx of similar productions and Broadway was losing its taste for the mix of comedy and music if the rest of the country still held its breath for touring companies. Irving would surpass Mr. Ziegfeld in 1921 with his Music Box Revue having a successful run of 440 performances.



1927 would see one of Ziegfeld's great Broadway successes, Show Boat, as well as the hit collaboration with Irving Berlin, Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. Among the featured performers were Eddie Cantor, Ruth Etting, Cliff Edwards, and Polly and Claire Luce. The outstanding hit was performed by Etting with Shaking the Blues Away

Florenz Ziegfeld's influence on entertainment is invaluable. He discovered, nurtured, and promoted on-stage talent as well as mentoring creatives behind the scene like Irving Berlin. Ziegfeld respected Irving's talent and work ethic. Irving was only 22-years-old when he first worked for Ziegfeld and the experience propelled him forward, diversifying his own career as a producer of shows, sheets music, and recordings. Berlin would become a Broadway powerhouse into the middle of the 20th century.


Click on the highlighted song titles to hear a performance of the tune.

Source:
IBDB 
As Thousands Cheer by Laurence Bergreen












14 comments:

  1. Apropos of nothing, I really dig the illustrations on those sheet music covers. Even the lettering is stylish.

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    1. Aren't they fun? Another reason for me to avoid housework and just keep googling images.

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  2. Speaking of A PRETTY GIRL IS LIKE A MELODY that makes me think of three actresses. MELODY THOMAS SCOTT that I have mentioned before. She plays NIKKI NEWMAN on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and she was the young MARNIE in that HITCHCOCK movie. MELODY ANDERSON-two things I know her from are the 1983 TV-movie POLICEWOMAN CENTERFOLD and an ep of.....MURDER, SHE WROTE. It was the second one that DALE ROBERTSON did. JESSICA went to visit LEE(played by Dale) at his ranch. MICHAEL SPOUND played his son. Melody also got to play EDIE ADAMS and MARILYN MONROE in TV-movies. I also know her from her ep of DALLAS where she played LINDA FARLOW who was briefly married to DUSTY(JARED MARTIN) the son of CLAYTON FARLOW(HOWARD KEEL). Melody is from CANADA and quit acting around 1995. She is a clinical social worker.

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    1. The third actress is MELODIE JOHNSON. I remember her from a western movie. I think the title is RIDE TO HANGMANS TREE. It had JACK LORD, JAMES FARENTINO and DON GALLOWAY. It also had RICHARD ANDERSON.

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    2. The first "Melody" that comes to my mind is Miss Patterson of F Troop fame. I wonder if all of their mothers hoped their daughter would be musical.

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  3. "Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning" - now THAT'S my theme song! Really enjoyed this informative post - MGM would go on to make 2 movies based on Ziegfeld and his shows - it seems there's a rich mine of material in Flo's life and art for movies still to take advantage of.

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    1. Thanks for reading. The possibilities do seem endless when we consider the productions and the varied talents Flo nurtured.

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  4. To be perfectly honest, this blog-a-thon is really an exercise in discovery for me as I'm not all that familiar with all things Ziegfeld, but I'm having a blast reading all this!

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    1. I always find something new or a new angle on something familiar during a blogathon. It keeps me joining up. Thanks for reading.

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  5. Irving Berlin was only 22 when he was with the Ziegfeld Follies?!! Wow – he truly was a genius.

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    1. Irving's success and fame has always been a part of our view of entertainment but when you start to break it down - well, I am awestruck at his talent and his tenaciousness.

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  6. What a fascinating post. I learned a lot, and I'm enjoying the song links! Thank you.

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm so pleased that you are enjoying the links. If there's ever an Irving category on Jeopardy!, we will ace it!

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