The Ziegfeld Follies were a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931. It became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.
Inspired by the Folies Bergères of Paris, the Ziegfeld Follies were conceived and mounted by Florenz Ziegfeld, reportedly at the suggestion of his then-wife, the entertainer Anna Held. The shows' producers were turn-of-the-century producing titans Klaw & Erlanger]].
The Follies were lavish revues, something between later Broadway shows and a more elaborate high class Vaudeville variety show. Many of the top entertainers of the era (including Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Ann Pennington, Bert Williams, Will Rogers, Ruth Etting, Helen Morgan, Marilyn Miller, W.C. Fields, Ed Wynn, Nora Bayes, The Tiller Girls, and others) appeared in the shows. The Ziegfeld Follies were also famous for many beautiful chorus girls commonly known as Ziegfeld girls, which, over the years, included many future stars such as Marilyn Miller, Marion Davies, (who was William Randolph Hearst' mistress) Mae Murray, Paulette Goddard, Joan Blondell, Nita Naldi, Dorothy Mackaill, Eve Arden, Billie Dove, Gilda Gray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Louise Brooks. (Norma Shearer and Alice Faye were turned down by Ziegfeld for being "not up to standards".) The girls were usually decked in elaborate costumes by designers such as Romain de Tirtoff/Erté, Lady Duff Gordon or Ali Ben Hagan, which became the talk of Broadway the following day.
After Ziegfeld's death, his widow Billie Burke authorized use of his name for Ziegfeld Follies in 1934 and 1936. The name was later used by other promoters in New York City, Philadelphia and again on Broadway, with less connection to the original Follies. These latter efforts failed miserably. When later it toured, the 1934 edition was recorded in its entirety, from the Overture to Play-out music, on a series of 78 rpm discs, which were edited by the record producer David Cunard to form an album of the highlights of the production and which was released as a Compact Disc in 1997.
The 1936 Best Picture winner was The Great Ziegfeld, starring William Powell as the master showman. Co-starring Myrna Loy (as Ziegfeld's second wife Billie Burke), Luise Rainer (as Anna Held, which won her an Academy Award for Best Actress), and Frank Morgan (as a rival showman). Featuring numbers by Ray Bolger, Dennis Morgan, Virginia Bruce, and Harriet Hoctor, the film gave a glimpse into what the Follies were really like. The MGM blockbuster's show-stopper was "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody", which, by itself, cost more to produce than one of Ziegfeld's whole shows.
There was also a 1946 featuremotion picture entitled Ziegfeld Follies with Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, William Powell, Gene Kelly, Fanny Brice, Red Skelton, Esther Williams, Cyd Charisse, Lucille Ball, Kathryn Grayson, and others performing songs and sketches similar to those from the original Follies.
- Follies of 1907 at the Winter Garden Theatre
- Follies of 1908 at the Jardin de Paris
- Follies of 1909 at the Jardin de Paris
- Follies of 1910 at the Jardin de Paris
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1911 at the Jardin de Paris
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1912 at the Moulin Rouge (New York)
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920 at the New Amsterdam Theatre
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1921 at the Globe Theatre
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927 at the New Amsterdam Theatre
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1931 at the Ziegfeld Theatre
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1934 at the Winter Garden Theatre
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 at the Winter Garden Theatre
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1943 at the Winter Garden Theatre
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1957 at the Winter Garden Theatre
Would you believe
Doris Eaton Travis will appear tomorrow in NYC at Barnes and Noble. At 106 years old, she is the last living Ziegfeld Girl from the original Follies.
- Thursday April 29, 2010 7:00 PM
- 82nd & Broadway
- 2289 Broadway, New York, NY 10024, 212-362-8835