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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.

 

Florenz 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 to Held 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 weekly salaries!

 

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 .

 

One 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 .

 

That 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 appeared 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!



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