FEATURED In This Month’s Body House Chronicles are The Beauties of The Original Ziegfeld Follies!
Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., who went by the name Flo Ziegfeld, was born March 21, 1869 in Chicago, Illinois and died July 22, 1932, Hollywood, California.
Ziegfeld was an American theatrical producer who created The Ziegfeld Follies.
The Ziegfeld Follies was a series of elaborate revue productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 to 1931, with renewals in 1934 and 1936.
The Follies delighted audiences with the slogan “Glorifying the American Girl.”
The Follies became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.
ZIEGFELD GIRLS – THE MOVIE
Unfortunately, the FULL version of the movie costs money to view on youtube.
I have found that this is becoming more and more common on youtube. They are gating original content.
So, below is the trailer for the movie. It’s fun to watch!
The Ziegfeld Follies was a spectacle that helped to change the face of the theatrical entertainment world forever.
When the show was first opened in 1907, its producer Florenz Ziegfeld, was unaware of where it would go.
The result of Ziegfeld’s efforts for the first show in 1907 was such a smash hit. He soon renamed the production with his name and it became an annual main event of the Broadway season.
Over the years, Follies became an over-the-top spectacle. Audiences had never seen a theater performance like this.
The show became so big that it was covered in gossip columns from coast to coast.
Of course, what made the Ziegfeld Follies really special was its showgirls.
Ziegfeld prided himself on finding a collection of talented dancers and chorus-line singers which were advertised as “the most beautiful women in the world.”
The Rise To The Follies
Then, in 1896 Ziegfeld turned to theatrical management.
His promotion of a French beauty, Anna Held, with press releases about her milk baths brought her fame. This set a pattern of star making through Ziegfeld’s shrewd publicity.
The revue’s combination of scantily clad women, pageantry, and comedy was repeated very successfully for 23 more years.
This lasted until the advent of the Great Depression which abruptly ended the show.
Although, four other editions of the show appeared after his death, the last in 1957.
A Career Launching Event
Over the years, Ziegfeld launched the careers of many talented performers. Some went on to huge fame and fortune.
It became popular in the American vernacular to guess which lovely lady would be the one who would break out and become the next big star.
Among the stars Ziegfeld developed BEFORE he invented The Follies were:
Ziegfeld also produced a string of stage successes in addition to the Follies such as:
- Sally (1920)
- Show Boat (1927)
- Rio Rita (1927)
- Bitter Sweet (1929)
Some Of The Names that Went on to be Big Stars include:
- Barbara Stanwyck
- Paulette Goddard
- Gypsy Rose Lee
- Josephine Baker
- Marilyn Miller
- Lucille Ball ( Lasted 2 weeks until she was fired – they said she couldn’t dance well enough)
Today, the spirit of the Ziegfeld Follies is still very much alive.
The Broadway musical as we know it, would not have been possible without the unique mix of style, sophistication, and sheer spectacle that the master showman, Florenz Ziegfeld, bestowed on the American stage.
ZIEGFELD’S LOVE LIFE
In 1896, Ziegfeld met Anna Held, an actress, in London.
Ziegfeld and Held began a common-law marriage in 1897. She then divorced him in 1913, according to her obituary in The New York Times dated August 13, 1918.
Held served Ziegfeld with divorce papers on April 14, 1912, and their divorce became final on January 9, 1913.
Apparently, Anna discovered Ziegfeld was having an affair with another woman.
The “other woman” in this love triangle was showgirl Lillian Lorraine.
It was said she had average talent as an entertainer, but was full of charisma and stage presence.
Lorraine was also very beautiful. Ziegfeld discovered her in 1907 when she was a 15-year-old performer in a Shubert production.
Ziegfeld spent many years promoting Lorraine’s career, which transformed her into one of the most popular attractions in his Follies.
In addition, Ziegfeld rented an apartment for Lorraine two floors above the residence he shared with Held.
He remained in love with Lorraine for the rest of his life.
They had met at a New Year’s Eve party.
They had one child, Patricia Ziegfeld Stephenson (1916–2008).
The family lived on his estate in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and in Palm Beach, Florida.
Ziegfeld died in Hollywood, California on July 22, 1932, from pleurisy, related to a previous lung infection.
He had lived in Los Angeles for only a few days after moving from a New Mexico sanitarium.
His death left Burke with substantial debts, which drove her to taking more film roles to settle them.
Burke died on May 14, 1970.
Ziegfeld and Burke are interred at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.