IF FLORENZ ZIEGFELD WERE ALIVE TODAY, Vivian Blaine would be a sure bet for stardom in one of his fabulous Follies. She has everything the late Broadway showman most admired in the stars of his own era—the grace and beauty of Ann Pennington, the shrewd timing and comedy sense of Fanny Brice, and the radiant personal magnetism of Marilyn Miller.
The Follies, first presented in 1907, were literally star-studded with dozens of top names making their first Broadway hit under the Ziegfeld banner, among them Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Bobby Clark, W. C. Fields, Ruth Etting, Marilyn Miller, Ann Pennington, Ed Wynn and Mae Murray. However, Ziegfeld’s most lasting claim to fame was his glorification of the American chorine. His discriminating eye for beauty made the words Follies Girl synonymous with glamour. The producer also appreciated beauty in his private life. His first wife was the vivacious musical comedy star Anna Held who divorced him in 1912. His second wife was the equally lovely and talented stage and motion picture actress Billie Burke. A list of the big name song writers associated with the Follies down through the years reads like an ASCAP Honour Roll of Hits. For instance, The Ziegfeld Follies of 1919 introduced such great Irving Berlin standards as A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody, Mandy, and You’d Be Surprised. Berlin also penned Shaking The Blues Away, rendered by Ruth Etting in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. The Ziegfeld Follies of 1934 produced three poignant Vernon Duke songs—Suddenly (lyrics by Billy Rose), I Like The Likes Of You, and What Is There To Say—plus Billy Hill’s moving western classic The Last Roundup. Duke also wrote the wonderful Bunny Berrigan hit I Can’t Get Started With You for The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 which starred the late Fanny Brice. Miss Brice of course, scored one of her greatest triumphs in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1921 with the tender French torch song My Man. The bouncy novelty Row, Row, Row was written by William Jerome and Jimmy Monaco for The Ziegfeld Follies of 1912, while the hit Follies song in 1915 was Gene Buck and Louis Hirsch’s Hello Frisco!
Ziegfeld’s life was full of spectacular ups and downs, and the lavish nature of his successes was only equalled by the king-sized scale of his failures. He lost two fortunes on Broadway, and in 1929, the Wall Street crash cost him more than $2,000,000. He died in 1932 at 63, and the last Follies produced under his personal supervision was presented in 1931. However, in 1934 his widow granted the Schuberts permission to use the name Ziegfeld Follies, and two more editions were subsequently produced on Broadway in ’36 and ’42. The Great Ziegfeld has been dead almost 25 years, but his name still stands for the ultimate in glamorous entertainment, feminine perfection and all-time great musical scores.
Label: Mercury Records MPL 6518