THE ZIEGFELD FOLLIES #Vintage Vaudeville Photos • PART TWO

— Being the second set of illustrated records of the Follies (editions 1912 - 1916).



Our first installment ended with the 1911 edition, which offered exquisite performances by...


and...


while temperamental...


foolishly picked a backstage fight with...


...who put an end to the conflict once and for all by dragging her opponent by the hair, across the stage, in front of a roaring audience. (Oh how I regret being unable to draw!)

Lorraine was fired soon after — yet, believe it or not, she would reappear for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1912, along with Bert Williams, Leon Errol and Harry Watson, and two newcomers: Singer/actress Elizabeth Brice (no relation to Fanny), and Rae Samuels, a peppy performer known as The Blue Streak of Ragtime, who packed a mixture of dialect songs, novelty numbers and comical anecdotes into a fast-paced act that kept her audience in stitches.


The Ziegfeld Follies of 1912 opened on October 21 — the first autumn Follies, and the first that did not play on the rooftop, but in the downstairs Music Hall. Critics and audiences agreed that the 1912 edition was the best one yet! The volatile Lillian Lorraine scored with a new song, "Daddy Has A Sweetheart," but once again, she was fired for missing rehearsals, and would not return to the Follies until 1918.



The finale of this best-ever Follies was a feast for the eyes entitled Society Circus Parade — a vision in pink, white and silver — ponies and show girls doing the now familiar Ziegfeld walk. (The photo above may be from a film version, but is probably not too far off the mark.) [A helpful reader tells me this shot is "from the film Ziegfeld Follies (1945). Lucille Ball is in the center with the enormous... headpiece."]


For about 20 years, this is what the New Amsterdam Theatre's program cover looked like:



The New Amsterdam was Broadway's most elegant venue, and it was home to the Ziegfeld Follies from 1913 through 1927.

The Ziegfeld Follies of 1913 opened at the New Amsterdam on June 16, where it played 96 performances before going on tour. Headliners were comic actors Leon Errol and Frank Tinney; English actress and singer José Collins; and diminutive dancer Ann Pennington, whose high kicks and dimpled knees were the talk of the town.




Tinney, frequently billed as The Funbeam, was a small, baby-faced comedian, and a favorite in vaudeville with an act that consisted of deliberately corny jokes, asides to the audience, and joking with the conductor in the pit.


Ms. Collins' given name was Josephine, but she was best known as José (pronounced Josay), and went on to a career in musical comedy and motion pictures.



A highlight of the 1913 edition was Leon Errol dancing a "Turkish Trot" with his pants falling down in the midst of a massive dance ensemble staged by director Julian Mitchell. (That sound you hear is the audience that can't stop laughing!)

This brings us to the Ziegfeld Follies of 1914. It opened June 1 at the New Amsterdam where it ran for 112 performances, and the stage was packed with 78 Ziegfeld Girls.


During rehearsals, Ziegfeld and director Julian Mitchell had a major disagreement. Mitchell walked out and Leon Errol took over. Headliners, in addition to Errol, were:

...Vaudeville comic Ed Wynn, who scored well in his Follies debut as Joe King the Joke King...(and I'm not joking!)...




... Bert Williams, whose pantomime of a poker game called Darktown Poker Club became one of his signature routines...




...Annette Kellerman, a zaftig swimming champion and dancer who often wore daring form-fitting costumes...




...the beautiful Vera Maxwell and funny man Leon Errol performed The Seasick Dip, a comic ballroom dance that brought down the house...




...and the diminutive dancer, Ann Pennington, perfomed a spectacular shimmy, as well as her own version of the Black Bottom.

The following June 21st, the Ziegfeld Follies of 1915 opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre, and marked the beginning of a long association between the Follies and stage designer Joseph Urban.



It has been said that Urban designed and built not just "sets," but alternative worlds where resident performers lived for a few hours every night for months at a time. He did that for the opera stages of Boston and New York, and for nine consecutive visually stunning editions of the Ziegfeld Follies.

In 1915, headliners still included Leon Errol, who staged some of the show, (assisted by a returning Julian Mitchell), plus Bert Williams, Ed Wynn, and Ann Pennington.

Follies newcomers included that cantankerous misanthrope, W. C. Fields...

...dancer George White who hoofed his way into a featured spot and popularized a new dance called the "Turkey Trot" (but when he demanded a raise, Ziegfeld fired him, and the dancer vowed to beat Ziggy at his own game. And so he did: The George White Scandals eventually became The Follies' fiercest competitor)...



...superb actress and comedienne Ina Claire, who became a popular star on Broadway and in motion pictures...




...a beautiful but unhappy 21-year-old actress who would commit suicide at the age of 26, Olive Thomas...


...a talented performer and brainy lady who would eventually graduate from Columbia University and later be honored for her work in endocrinology and cancer research, Justine Johnstone...

...and the girl with the bee-stung lips, dancer-actress Mae Murray, who became a popular movie actress, then a sought-after film producer and screenwriter.



Although the Ziegfeld Follies of 1916 had a cast of 118, historians say that this 10th edition "belonged to the comics." And what else would you expect from a show with the likes of Bert Williams, Fanny Brice, W. C. Fields, Will Rogers, Ina Claire, Ann Pennington and Marion Davies?



Will Rogers' lariat and his witty commentary on Washington politicians, as well as notables at home and elsewhere was a sure-fire audience pleaser.



Fanny Brice did a send-up of a vamping Theda Bara; spoofed Swan Lake Ballet as a flatfooted dying swan in a tutu; then sang a tribute to ballet legend Vaslav Nijinski.

W. C. Fields did impersonations of political figures (a side of him not often seen); Bert Williams morphed Shakespeare's Othello into a comedy; and other skits had Henry VIII singing about his wives and Julius Caesar and his "Toga Girls" singing ragtime.



And the newest Ziegfeld Girl, Marion Davies, began her long romance with newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst when he bought out the same orchestra seat for every night of the eight-week run.

That's all for now, but I'll pick it up again in my next post, starting with the 1917 edition in which we meet some Follies newcomers, including the lovable Eddie Cantor, the one-name beauty, Dolores, and the 17-year-old Fairbanks Twins.


8 comments:

  1. Bernice Dalton Jenssen was a Ziegfield Follies girl do you have any pictures of her?
    Lauraley Brown Dilgard
    lauraleyd@cox.net

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lauraley,

    I'm sorry to report that there is no Bernice Dalton or Bernice Dalton Jenssen or any combination of those names in my database.

    If you Google Ziegfeld Follies, you'll find quite a few websites devoted to photos of these beauties.

    The best one for the girls' histories is Streetswing — http://www.streetswing.com/histmai2/d2zgrls1.htm.

    Hope that helps. Good luck. --Carla

    ReplyDelete
  3. The image labeled “1912 Finale: Society Circus Parade” is actually from the film Ziegfeld Follies (1945). Lucille Ball is in the center with the enormous ruffled headpiece.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Do you have any info on that photo of Will Rogers with the chorus girls? I'm researching a number from the 1916 production and would love to know what number those costumes were for. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sam -- According to this book that pic is from a 1917 number w/Chinese costumes.

      Read the book here:
      https://books.google.com/books?id=WPceFWnJppYC&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq=ziegfeld+follies+1916+will+rogers&source=bl&ots=Exmy879Gk-&sig=k_o9NJSpjXsHRmHtitO9E7fJBVU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjF9tekrJPLAhXHej4KHTsTBTUQ6AEIRTAK#v=onepage&q=ziegfeld%20follies%201916%20will%20rogers&f=false

      buy it = http://www.amazon.com/Will-Rogers-At-Ziegfeld-Follies/dp/0806123575

      Delete
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