FRONT PAGE   BACK  NEXT PAGE  I EPSILON MAGAZINE COVER I  EPSILON MAGAZINE NOV. 2005 TABLE OF CONTENTS I

EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 28
WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICA'S BEST ENTERTAINERS AND CABARET STARS

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

By Maximillien de Lafayette

Artists, performers, entertainers, musicians, composers and singers of yesteryears and at the dawn of American music were so different from those who came to the scene of  the modern American music of the  20th and 21st centuries. The music was real musical composition, no Rap crap and heavy metal distorting noises. The lyrics were simple, evocative, poetic and polite and consequently, songs could be sung by all generations and audiences of all ages. The musical productions were either super extravaganzas or daringly intimate and sentimental. The outfits, suits, dresses and wardrobes were either outrageous in their couture and style or traditionally elegant with refined cuts and couture. The make-up was either extremely exaggerated, accentuated or theatrical. The audience was strictly divided into two classes; the titled and entitled as one group, and the “tiers d’etat” as a second group. Some female artists made it big time. Some earned a fortune while others despite their enormous success and superior artistic quality died in absolute poverty. Female artists did not know how to invest their money. In many instances, they have been used and misused, mistreated and taken advantage by greedy impresarios, managers and agents. Success was based upon artistic quality, not fame and shame. In brief, it was a different world.

Folks around the turn of the century were singing  “I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now”, and others went for “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobing Along”:

When the red red Robin comes bob-bob-bobbing along, along.
There'll be no more sobbing when he starts throbbing his old sweet song.

Wake up, wake up you sleepy head,
Get up, get up get out of bed,
Cheer up cheer up the sun is red,
Live, love, laugh and be happy.

What if I've been blue, now I'm walking though fields of flowers.
Rain may glisten but still I listen for hours and hours.

I'm just a kid again doing what I did again singing a song.
When the red red Robin comes bob-bob-bobbing along, along.”

 

It was a sweet and innocent time. The lyrics were simple and polite. The music was music and the song publishers on 28th Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway in  New York City were busy. This was the beginning of the good times of American music and American singers. It was exciting for everybody; I can see Irving Berlin  working on a new show, the extravagant Florenz Ziegfeld  auditioning his female dancers and singers for his follies, ballroom dancing  taking off, musicals on Broadway are in full gear, and cheap grotesque burlesques joints are steaming. Vaudeville is booming and zooming, motion pictures are rolling, gramophones soaring, and cartoons, the latest novelty of the day are amusing and confusing many.  America is ready for big time music. Meanwhile abroad, the legendary Aristide Bruant reinvent Cabaret and Lucienne Boyer takes Paris by storm. The world’s first Cabaret  “Le Chat Noir “ which opened its doors for the first time in the Montmartre district of Paris in March 1881 gets a face lift. It becomes the perfect place for adventurers, hustlers, raconteurs, drunken philosophers, poets, artists, composers and celebrities of the day such as Guy de Maupassant, Satie and de Debussy.

The twentieth century is knocking at our doors, Broadway is in full swing with musicals and flashy dashy productions. Two big productions take New York city by storm; “The Wizard of Oz”.  The original draft  (below) of “Over the Rainbow” written before the story was even completed is re-written again for the second time. Considered cynical, the original draft will not see the light, and would be deleted from the original script, cut from the premiere and all the productions to follow.

“Somewhere down past the wheat field, way way back,
There’s some land that I heard of a miles past the railroad track
Somewhere down past the wheat field, skies are gray
And the people that trudge to work do it day by day
Someday I want to see this spot
Where troubles grow like mildew rot ...so true
And everything revolves around
The money that they all have found -destroying values
Somewhere down past the wheat field, way way back,
There’s a land that my curiosity wants a crack.
If happy little bluejays fly…beyond the wheat field, why oh why can’t I?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Bessie Smith a.k.a. “Empress of the Blues” .

The play which was  making waves, was “Peter Pan”. The two big hits of the era were  “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “Meet me in St. Louis.” African Americans begin to sing the Blues in the fields and many Blues songs are recorded by talent scouts. Bessie Smith becomes the greatest Blues Singers in the country. Harlem is still a white middle and upper-middle class community neighborhood of uptown Manhattan but, things are going to change now. Philip Payton's Afro-Am Realty Company begins to lease and rent many of Harlem apartments and houses to black tenants around 135th Street East of Eighth Avenue and Harlem’s. Blues expands East-West from Park to Amsterdam Avenues and North-South from 155th Street to Central Park. The Blues is born. Soon, the Blues will invade the whole country and metamorphose into: Harlem Blues,  Chicago Blues, California Blues, Country Blues, Louisiana Blues, Delta Blues,  Bourbon Street Blues, Memphis Blues, Piedmont Blues, St. Louis Blues, Texas Blues, Urban Blues, you name it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jelly Roll Morton (Born Ferdinand Lamothe)

Simultaneously, Jazz begins to see the light, mainly in New Orleans. Jazz pioneers, such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and later Duke Ellington create new jazz tunes and compositions for big bands nightclubs and cabarets shows. Jazz becomes a dominant force in the mainstream of American nightlife music thanks to creative and passionate singers, composers and musicians such as, to name a few: Henry Allen, Lil Hardin-Arm-

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 EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 28

WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

By Maximillien de Lafayette

strong, Albert Ammons, Eva Taylor, Mary Lou Williams, Nick LaRocca, Julia Lee, Billie Holiday, Lovie Austin, Mutt Carey, Elmer Snowden, Doc Cooke, Tiny Parham, Joseph Petit, Eddie Condon, Wrskine Tate, Lester Young,  Clarence Williams, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Ben Webster, Eddie Durham, aul Whiteman,  Jimmy Lunceford, Johnny Dunn,Milt Hinton, Fats Walle, Buster Bailey, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Carter, Perry Bradford, Buddy Bolden, Cab Calloway, Tommy Dorsey, Harland Leonard, Jimmy Blythe, Sidney Bechet, Count Bassie, Benny Goodman, Earl Hines, Ben Pollack,  Alphonse Picou, Mamie Smith, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Frank Trumbauer,  Jack Teagarden,  

World War I : CHANGE OF TIME. NEW MUSIC AND NEW LYRICS

Photo: Irving Berlin

Music and lyrics begin to change in virtue of social changes caused by World War One. Such changes were reflected into the famous and popular songs of the era such as “ Castle House Rag” and "On Patrol In No Man's Land" and "All Of No Man's Land Is Ours" recorded in March 1919 and performed by Noble Sissle,  Henry Burr, Irving Kaufman, Billy Murray and Nora Bayes. Other popular songs were “If You Were the Only Girl in the World”, “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, “Hinky Dinky Parlay Voo”, “ How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm” and particularly “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows”.

Photo: Lt.  James Reese Europe, famous leader of the 369th Infantry "Hell Fighters" Band.

And now, Irving Berlin steps in with a wave of fantastic songs such as “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, White Christmas” and “God Bless America”.

 

The Very Beginning of the American Cabaret

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Dame Sybil Bruncheon

Trendy restaurants and cafes like Palais Royal, Reisenweber , New York's Delmonico's and Shanley began  to serve dinner with extravagant shows and  musical acts. Those early “boites” (Nightspots) came to be known as "Cabarets" in the years before World War One, short after, to be wiped out by the Prohibition. Only a few glamorous and ritzy nightspots like the Cotton Club will continue to prosper after the ban on alcohol was lifted. The Speakeasies, a cabaret mobster-style began to spread nationwide. First they operated from backrooms and ornamented basements. They called themselves “Clubs”. It was a risky business, for the police constantly raided on them. Clubs managers and their clienteles had to be careful.  So, those colorful managers came up with a clever idea; all you had to do was to knock at the tiny door of the joint and tell the doorman "Joe sent me”. To attract more customers, the joints began to offer nightly live entertainment and musical acts. And of course, singing and performing on stage made things look legitimate. Very soon after, cabarets and clubs owners discovered  that women  in the genre of “Femme Fatale” who sung romantically sad  songs  increased the sales of drinks and heavy alcohol. Live entertainment was a magical stroke. And thus, those “singing women”  referred to as the “Saloon Singers” became the major attraction of the city. In fact, they were the only game in town. Helen Morgan, Ruby Keeler and Texas Guinan became a legend. When the Prohibition came to an end in 1933, American  entrepreneurs began to open huge  nightclubs offering extravagant  and  lavish shows and cabaret acts. The legendary nightclubs “The Copacaban”, ”The Cotillion” and  “The Diamond Horseshoe” featured Vaudeville celebrities like Sophie Tucker, Jimmy Durante and Frank Sinatra with various musical and dancing acts. It was at that time in history that, famous cabaret singers were referred to as “Torch Singers”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Among the most famous entertainers of the era were:  Mabel Mercer, Bobby Short, Eartha Kitt, Pearl Bailey, Billie Holliday who performed at “The Vanguard” , including Yul Brynner who worked at “The Blue Angel” as a Russian strolling guitarist. Yup! Believe it of not!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day, those nightclubs attractions will extend to New York's Greenwich Village. Up on East 56th Street, the trendy “Le Ruban Bleu” showcased fabulous acts by Dorothy Loudon, Pat Carroll, Charlotte Rae, Carol Burnett and Kaye Ballard.  Other famous nightclubs were “The Purple Onion”  and “The Bon Soir”. Dame Sybil Bruncheon was one of the most visible patrons. One day,  at “The Bon Soir” in the early 1950's, Mike Nichols and Elaine May will begin  their soaring careers, and  in the early 1960's, it will showcase acts by  future stars like Kaye Ballard and  Barbra Streisand. In the theatre district, Sylvia

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  EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 29
 


 


 

     
 
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EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 30

WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

By Maximillien de Lafayette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kaye Ballard

VAUDEVILLE’s most visible entertainers were: May Irwin, Julian Eltinge and Fay Templeton. Of Scottish ancestry, May Irwin was born Georgina May Campbell (not Ada Campbell, as some sources state) in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. Her parents were Robert E. and Jane Draper Campbell. Her father died when she was young, and May turned to the theater to become self- supporting. With sister Adeline Flora Campbell (born on February 8, 1875, and known professionally as Flora or Flo Irwin), she went on the variety stage, doing a singing specialty. A.D. Storms states in The Players' Blue Book, according to Jim Walsh in the July 1963 issue of Hobbies, that the Irwin Sisters made their debut at the Theatre Comique in Rochester, New York, on January 8, 1875; the book Famous Actresses, written by Lewis C. Strang (quoted by Walsh in the June 1963 issue of Hobbies), states that the debut was in Buffalo in December, the girls opening with "Sweet Genevieve." The Irwin Sisters appeared at Tony Pastor's Theatre on September 13, 1877, working there for the next six years. When the act was dissolved, May worked solo. From 1883 to 1887 she was with Daly's company. During that time she traveled twice to London to perform.May became a leading vaudeville performer of the 1890s. Best-known as a "coon- shouter," she introduced "The Bully" to stage audiences. In his autobiography After The Ball: Forty Years of Melody (New York: Frank-Maurice, Inc, 1926), composer Charles K. Harris credits Irwin for popularizing "After the Ball" in New York City in early 1892. Her "Crappy Dan" was popular enough in 1898 for Len Spencer to record it as a Columbia cylinder (7281). Columbia's 1898 catalog identified it as "May Irwin's hit." (From Tim Graycik's biography). Irwin's first starring role on the stage was in The Widow Jones, which opened on September 16, 1895, and featured the famous "Bully Song," or "The Bully." A kissing scene from the hit show was filmed in 1896 by Edison's film company. Irwin is kissed by stage partner John Rice (father of singer Gladys Rice). The film was not originally projected onto screens in theaters (the "Projecting Kinetoscope" came a little later) but was watched by individuals who purchased tickets at Kinetoscope Parlors and looked into a machine's peep-hole (some machines were coin-operated). The film's showing time is less than a minute. Without citing credible evidence, film historians routinely report that early viewers were scandalized by The Kiss. This is improbable.

 

 

The film's showing time is less than a minute. Without citing credible evidence, film historians routinely report that early viewers were scandalized by The Kiss. This is improbable. The film footage is innocuous by any standards, and the fact that it was released means that Edison film makers believed that this kiss violated no standards of the times. The film purportedly captures a moment from an actual stage production, and since stage audiences were not scandalized, it is unlikely that viewers of the film were.

May Irwin in a rare and original postcard from the Northern Stars Collection.

Fay Templeton, 1895

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on December 25, 1865, Fay Templeton was the daughter of theatrical parents--principals in the touring John Templeton Opera Company--and grew up entirely in that milieu. She was carried onstage in infancy and had her first speaking part at age five. By the early 1880s Templeton was touring the country with her own light opera company. Her ascent to fame began with her appearance in Evangeline in New York City in 1885. She made her London debut the following year in Monte Cristo, Junior. In a succession of extravaganzas over the next decade, she became celebrated equally for her singing, her acting, and her dark, seductive beauty. She appeared with the team of Joe Weber and Lew Fields in their burlesque Hurly Burly (1898), in which her talents for comedy and parody were realized.

 

She starred in Weber and Fields's Fiddle-dee-dee (1900), Hoity Toity (1901), and Twirly Whirly (1902), all of which also featured Lillian Russell. In 1906 Templeton starred in George M. Cohan's Forty-five Minutes from Broadway, in which she introduced "Mary's a Grand Old Name" and "So Long, Mary." For a quarter-century thereafter, Templeton lived in semiretirement with her husband in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, emerging to appear in such productions as Weber and Fields's Hokey Pokey in 1912 and several versions of H.M.S. Pinafore. She appeared in the film Broadway to Hollywood (1933), and late in 1933 returned to Broadway in Jerome Kern's Roberta. She died in San Francisco on October 3, 1939. (Encyclopedia Britannica).

VAUDEVILLE VARIETY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian Eltinge

Vaudeville star Julian Eltinge was the only female impersonator in the history of showbiz to have a Broadway theater named after him. (It is now the AMC Empire movie multiplex on 42nd Street). Photo, right: Koster & Bial's Music Hall on 23rd Street in Manhattan, the premiere variety house of the late 1800's.

Koster & Bial's Music Hall on 23rd Street in Manhattan, the premiere variety house of the late 1800's.

 

 

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EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 31

WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

By Maximillien de Lafayette

Two very distinct images of Vaudeville super comedienne, dancer and singer Fay Templeton who introduced George M. Cohan's "Mary's a Grand Old Name" in 45 Minutes from Broadway. Templeton ended her stellar career by introducing Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays" in Roberta (1933).

THE ZIEGFELD SAGA

Some of the most famous Ziegfeld girls (singers and dancers) were: Marilyn Miller (Photo left), Lillian Lorraine (Photo right), Billie Burke, Anna Held,  Josephine Baker,Claire Luce, Paulette Goddard,  Sophie Tucker, Ruth Etting, Irene Dunn,  Billie Dove and Lupe Velez, Dolly Sisters (Identical Hungarian twins Jenny and Rose), Nora Bayes, Dolores, born Kathleen Rose. A stunning tall English beauty who was a popular fashion model when Ziegfeld hired her as a torch singer and dancer for his 1917 Follies. Gilda Gray, born Marianne Michalski who was a ravishing Polish dancer.

 

 

An autographed "cabinet photo" of the legendary musical comedienne May Irwin.

The film “Gilda”  of 1949  starring Rita Hayworth was based on her colorful and steamy life. Helen Morgan. She was  one of the very first great torch singers of the era. Norma Terris,  a stunning blonde beauty who made her Broadway debut as a chorus girl in the 1920’s “Midnight Frolic”. In later years, she became a patron of the  Connecticut’s Goodspeed Opera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Miller

The Black Crook” was condemned by ethicists and moralists as a flesh show, and libeled as an immoral production. The producers profited from this negative publicity. Consequently, the show sold tickets like hot cakes. It became an instant success. This brought fortune to William Wheatley and his associates . The musical play was played and replayed for several years and was richly revived on Broadway. The troupe's prima ballerina, Marie Bonfanti, became an international celebrity and the toast of the city of New York. Some historians tend to believe that this  famous and infamous production paved the way for burlesques. Still, Helen Morgan was and remained one of the first cabaret torch singers in America. Born in Danville, Illinois, on August 2, 1900, Helen Riggins took the name Morgan in her childhood when her divorced mother remarried. Various conflicting accounts of her entry into show business survive, but she apparently obtained some voice training, sang in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lillian Lorraine

Helen Morgan

speakeasies, and in 1920 got a job in the chorus of Florenz Ziegfeld's Sally. More nightclub singing in Chicago and perhaps a beauty contest in Montreal led to a small role in George White's Scandals in 1925. In that year she had an engagement at Billy Rose's Backstage Club, where the crowded conditions obliged her to perch on her accompanist's piano, an informal touch that soon became a trademark. On Broadway Morgan appeared in Americana (1926), Grand Guignol (1927), and Show Boat (1927), in which she was a sensation singing "Bill" and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man." She starred in Sweet Adeline (1929), in which she sang "Don't Ever Leave Me" and "Why Was I Born?" Her later shows, less successful, include The Ziegfeld Follies of 1931, Memory (1934), George White's Scandals of 1936, and A Night at the Moulin Rouge (1939). She also appeared in a number of motion pictures, including Applause (1929), Roadhouse Nights (1930), Sweet Music (1935), Frankie and Johnnie (1935), and Show Boat (1936). Morgan's real strength, however, was as a club singer. Her small, pale appearance and her sweet, artless, and blues-tinged voice made her the ideal performer of the new sort of popular song that was being written in the 1920s and '30s: ironic, sometimes bitter, distinctly urban, and full of the disappointment, loneliness, and joyless hedonism that filled the smoky clubs. Morgan died in Chicago, Illinois, on October 8, 1941.Data: Encyc. Brit.

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EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 32

 
 


 

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  EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 33
WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

The Follies of 1907”, the making of a Broadway legend.

 

Anna Held singing and dancing girls.

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EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 34

WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

By Maximillien de Lafayette

The Queens and Flashy Dashy Super Stars of the Early Era of American Entertainment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Anna Held

 

Photo from L to R: #1. Ziegfeld used Anna Held's  eyes as a powerful publicity tool. #2. Claire Luce 1927. 

Josephine Baker, 1926 

Zozo Baker, or Josephine (1906-1975), was an internationally famous African American entertainer. She began her career in the early 1920's as a chorus dancer in black musical comedies and in black nightclubs in New York City. She did not become a star until she moved to Paris in 1925, where she performed in black revues at the Folies Bergere and other Parisian music halls. She also owned a nightclub. Her rhythmic dancing and flamboyant stage presence made her a sensation by the late 1920's.Baker returned to the United States to perform in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. For a time, she operated a nightclub in New York City. She retired in 1956 to devote more time to her family of adopted children. She raised her family on her estate in France until financial difficulties forced the sale of the property. Baker often returned to the stage in the 1960's and early 1970's. She was born on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri. She died on April 12, 1975.

 

 

 

Ruth Etting, 1931  

Irene Dunn, 1928

  Lupe Velez, 1932    

 

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  EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 35
 

SUPPORT THE BRITISH MUSEUM

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  EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 36
WORLD OF CABARET: AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

By Maximillien de Lafayette

Photos on this pages are those of the legendary Ruth Etting. She was stunning, extremely talented, classy and above all humble and modest. Jimmy dDrante adored her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rare photo of Ruth Etting dated and signed by the legendary singer in 1927. On the photograph, Ruth Etting wrote: " Best Wishes to Mr. Fred Clampett in memory of a wonderful vacation with your Best of all cars 'Stutz Waymann.' Ruth Etting 'Sweetheart of Columbia Records' Ziegfeld Follies of 1927".

EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 37

WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

By Maximillien de Lafayette

Billy Dove,  1919

Billy Dove,  1920

Billy Dove,  1924

Paulette Goddard, 1926

Lupe Velez

Ruth Etting

 

Ruth Etting

Ruth Etting was one of the most popular singing stars of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Florenz Ziegfeld, who glorified Ruth in the Follies, rated her as "the greatest singer of songs" that he had managed in a forty-year career. On radio she established herself as America's pre-eminent popular singer, continually voted in listener polls as the top female singer on the air. Even though radio and the recording industry were still in their early developing years, Ruth Etting recorded over 200 songs by such composers as Irving Berlin, Johnny Green, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. She was a regular performer on at least eight network radio programs. She appeared in six Broadway shows, made three major full-length movies and was the featured performer in 35 movie short subjects between 1928 and 1936.

Claire Luce

Claire Luce in her Ostrich outfit

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EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 38

WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

Fred Astaire and Claire Luce in The Gay Divorce

                                                                 CLAIRE LUCE AND FRED ASTAIRE

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EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 39

WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

 

CLAIRE LUCE

After marrying her second husband, publisher Henry R. Luce, Clare Boothe LUCE (1903-1987) wrote three successful plays: The Women (1936), Kiss the Boys Goodbye (1938) and Margin for Error (1939). She later served as a war correspondent before representing Connecticut in Congress from 1943-1947. She was keynote speaker at the 1944 Republican national convention. In 1953, Luce became the first American woman Ambassador to a major country when President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her Ambassador to Italy (1953-1956). In 1983, four years before her death, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. ROGERS was one of London's leading theatre photographers from the 1930s until his death in 1970. He was almost the sole photographer of both ballet and opera at the Royal Opera House during the 1950 and 1960s, producing photographs of productions and also portrait studies of singers and dancers in costume and make-up. Much of his early work was destroyed during World War II. This youthful photo of Luce survived.

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EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 40

WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

By Maximillien de Lafayette

THE DAWN OF AMERICAN MUSICALS WITH ANNA HELD

Anna Held

According to American musicals historian, John Henric,  is impossible to discuss Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr.'s development as a showman without considering Anna Held's contribution to his life and career. Ziegfeld got his taste in clothes, knowledge of stage presentation, and even the idea for his Follies from her. She was one of the first celebrities to win transatlantic fame, and a leading musical stage star for more than two decades. It is no exaggeration to say that she was one of the most remarkable women of her time. Although she later insisted that she was a native Parisian, Helene Anna Held was born in Warsaw, the daughter of a German Jewish glove maker and his French wife. Her "official" birthday was March 18, 1873, but some sources suggest she was born five to eight years sooner. When anti-Semitic pogroms swept Poland in 1881, the Held family fled to Paris. There her father's health faded, and teenage Anna had to support her family as a sweat shop seamstress. She occasionally sang in the streets to earn extra pennies. After her father died in 1884, Anna and her mother went to live with relatives in London. There she was cast in several Yiddish musicals by the legendary actor-manager Jacob Adler. Held developed a unique stage presence over the next three years. She returned to Paris, where her rolling eyes, eighteen inch waist and naughty songs made Held a major star in the finest cafes. She increased her fame by such shrewd gestures as riding horses astride (rather than side-saddle), and by being one of the first women to ride those new inventions, the bicycle and motorcar. She had an affair with wealthy South American gambler Maximo Carrera, and they married barely in time to legitimize the birth of their daughter Liane sometime around 1895.

 

The child was raised in a convent, and the uncaring parents both went back to their separate lives. Anna's primary benefit from this marriage was that it gave her the excuse to convert to Catholicism. While she cared little for religion, she was anxious to escape the stigma faced by Jews in most of Europe. It also made it easier for her to perpetuate the myth that she was a native born French woman – a claim she clung to long after the press had proven otherwise. Anna resumed her career, touring Germany and England with success. She was appearing at London's Palace Music Hall in 1896 when the brash American producer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. bribed his way into her dressing room. Ziegfeld wanted Held to appear in an upcoming Broadway production, and offered her the then-staggering sum of $1,500 a week. Anxious to get away from her husband's mounting gambling debts, Held was quite willing to make the trip. Thanks to Ziegfeld's masterful publicity (and his selective bribery of the press), Held's name and photo soon appeared in every newspaper and souvenir shop in New York. By the time she arrived in the U.S., she was a ready-made celebrity.

A Parlor Match (1896) was the story of a clever hobo who hoodwinks a gullible millionaire out of his valuables. At one point, the hobo uses a rigged "spirit 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?"

I wish you'd come and play with me,
For I have such a way with me,
A way with me, a way with me.
I have such a nice little way with me,
Do not think it wrong.

Her charming, suggestive delivery and outrageous French accent made a tremendous hit, and she had to sing several encores. After the show a wild group of admirers (no doubt paid off by Ziegfeld) unhooked her carriage from its horses and pulled her through the streets. Most critics were less than impressed by Held's performance, but she was the talk of New York.

 

Whenever she was photographed, Held preferred poses that showcased her petite waist .Always in search of a fresh publicity angle, Ziegfeld got an idea from the milky bath mixture Held used to condition her skin. He informed the press that Miss Held bathed in several gallons of fresh milk every day, and reinforced the story by saying he had returned one shipment from a local dairy because it had gone sour. The dairy owner sued Ziegfeld for libel and the hoax was eventually revealed – but Held's name made headlines every step of the way.

At its time, the milk bath incident made titillating headlines for weeks and supposedly started a brief fad. an auspicious beginning for Ziegfeld's aggressive publicity blitz for Anna Held as a daring European performer. "The name of the young woman became as well known in this country as the name of the President," the New York World declared a year after her arrival.
- Linda Mizejewski, Ziegfeld Girl: Image and Icon in Culture and Cinema (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999), p. 41.

Anna Held at age 15 with her mother.

Over the next twelve years, Ziegfeld featured Held in seven Broadway musicals tailored to showcase her charms. Each one ran in New York before going on tour (where most shows made their real profits at that time), but Held's first few shows were not the smash hits she and Ziegfeld had hoped for. In 1897, Held wrangled a divorce from Maximo Carerra. She and Ziegfeld had been living together for some years, but they now declared to friends that they were married. They never went through the formality of a ceremony -- theirs was a "common law" union. This spared Held any wrangling with the Catholic Church, and made it easier for Ziegfeld to keep his options open for the future.

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EPSILON MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER ISSUE 2005. P 41

WORLD OF CABARET

AMERICAN MUSIC AND THE BIRTH OF CABARET FROM THE EARLY JAZZ ERA TO PRESENT

By Maximillien de Lafayette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niblo’s Garden, a 3,200 seat theatre at the corner of Broadway and Prince Streets.

The First American Musicals

The early American musicals were performed as British ballad comic operas. The very first musical was “Flora”. It was performed in 1735 in Charleston and  moved to New York in 1750. The first national musical “The Archers” written by Benjamin Carr and William Dunlap premiered on April 18, 1796 at the John Street Theater in New York city. In  1800, the musical melodrama genre came to life. The first blockbuster was “The Black Crook” a 240 performer extravagant musical play which premiered at the fabulous Niblo Garden. The Black Crook” was condemned by ethicists and moralists as a flesh show, and libeled as an immoral production. The producers profited from this negative publicity. Consequently, the show sold tickets like hot cakes. It became an instant success. This brought fortune to William Wheatley and his associates . The musical play was played and replayed for several years and was richly revived on Broadway. The troupe's prima ballerina, Marie Bonfanti, became an international celebrity and the toast of the city of New York. Some historians tend to believe that this  famous and infamous production paved the way for burlesques.  

Musicals Plays and Theater

First, came Vaudeville and Burlesque followed by the Broadway Musicals genre. The style of the era was represented by favorites such as the Showboat’ “Ol’ Man River” which was first played by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in January 11, 1928  and the various tunes of  Gershwin’s songs and ballads, particularly those of “Porgy and Bess” which were first performed by Rudy Vallee at the Alvin Theater in New York in 1935.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lt. Rudy Vallee

At the same time, Vaudeville remained strong and prospered thanks to the first ladies of Vaudeville: Ethel Waters, Baby Peggy, Nora Bayes, Maggie Cline, May Irwin,  Ida Cox,  Marie Dressler, Judy Garland, Gilda Gray, Alberta Hunter, Texas Guinan, Clarice Vance, Tixie Friganza, Fifi D’Orsay, Alberta Hunter, Sophie Tucker, Patsy Kelly, Cissie Loftus, Mary Irwin,  Sissieretta Jones, Marilyn Miller, Florence Mills, Helen Morgan, Mae Questel, Ma Reiney, Lillian Russell.

Cabaret in America

Photos, left and below,  from L to R: Anita O'Day, Margaret Whiting.

In the fifties, the Cabaret surfaced in the United States;  a “typically American style” founded on American standards and works by American music and musicals pioneers. It is safe, polite, entertaining and delightful American art and entertainment platform. Famous and less known artists perform quite frequently on stage, whether it is an impressive stage setting or modestly decorated.                                            

 

Type of performers: Anna Bergman, Julie Wilson, Anne Kerry Ford, Lizabeth Flood, Simore Marchand, Amanda McBroom, Barbara Cook, Sofia Laity et al.  The “American Cabaret” is a modified genre of Cabarets of the world which are classified below in 13 different kinds and genres.

Anna Bergman
 
Anna Bergman

Anne Kerry Ford

 

 

 

 

 

Diva Beth Ullman, one of the best in the business.  http://www.bethanisings.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juliette Greco, an authentic French Cabaret, Concert Diva

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