Friday, January 13, 2012

Sophie Tucker's Birthday

Well, I now see that my credentials are no longer recognized by the rotating globe as being from "Freeport, Maine". Now, the ID thingy lists me as being from Winchester, New Hampshire. Don't tell anyone, though. That area's a haven for ritzy money types, they'll freak out at having to associate with me. All in all, I'd rather Comcast stop playing around at whatever it is they are doing and get my IP address to show up again as Brattleboro, where I live and attempt to pay my bills.

Today is Sophie Tucker's birthday. I've been aware of her since I was a kid and heard her quips, "I've been rich and I've been poor, and believe me, rich is better", and my favorite, "Money may not buy happiness, but it sure does help ease the pain". She was known at the time as "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas". Born in the Ukraine, her family emigrated to to the US and settled in Hartford, CT when she was an infant. She started her performing career as a "coon shouter" in blackface - vaudeville managers thought she was too fat and ugly to be accepted by audiences as herself. She performed songs like,  "Nobody Loves a Fat Girl, But Oh How a Fat Girl Can Love". She hired African American singers to giver her lessons, and African American composers to write material for her. She was such a hit in the Ziegeld Follies in 1909 that problems arose with other female performers. Then William Morris booked her at his new theater on the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway. At one point, on tour in Boston, someone stole the luggage that contained her makeup kit, and she went on without the blackface. She went over so much better that, at the behest of Mr. Morris, she never wore it again.

In 1911, she introduced a song that not only became a huge hit, it became her theme song (and the title of her autobiography). Over the years she recorded it many times. The following clip is from my own library of stuff. It is the first clip I've digitized, as well as the first clip I've posted to YouTube (private link).
This was accomplished using the device I bought myself for Christmas that I mentioned in yesterday's post.. It plays great on my computer, but as uploaded to YouTube gets a bit out of sync. I've no idea why, but I'll try to figure it out later.

So here you go, an old school entertainer doing exactly what she knows how to do.
Happy Birthday Ms. Tucker.

Here's a nice little bio if you'd like to read more:

1 comment:

Austan said...

Ah, Sophie. We miss you. And apparently we're both in Winchester NH.