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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 444

updated
Saturday, 18 March 2006

Some early reviews and a new play
about the life and times of
Sophie Tucker (1884-1966)
'The Last of the Red Hot Mamas'
star of American vaudeville.

Sue Kelvin pays tribute in
Sophie Tucker's One Night Stand,
15 March to 30 April 2006 at
The King's Head Theatre
115 Upper Street, Islington, London

Alexander Carr and Sophie Tucker

Alexander Carr and Sophie Tucker in a scene from Louisiana Lou,
La Salle Theatre, Chicago, 24 September 1911

'Last Wednesday [27 March 1912], at the matinee, Louisiana Lou received its three hundredth
performance at the La Salle. The record is said to be unapproached by another other attraction in the
American theatres this season. Harry Askin and those associated with him in the operation of the La Salle;
the authors, Addison Burkhardt and Frederick Donaghey, and the composer, Ben. M. Jerome, who also
conducts the orchestra, and the bright co. came in for general business of congratulation.'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Wednesday, 3 April 1912, pp. 15d/23a)

(photo: White, New York, 1911/12)

Sue Kelvin as Sophie Tucker with Michael Roulston as Ted Shapiro in
Sophie Tucker's One Night Stand
'Enjoy a rollercoaster ride through the highs and lows of Sophie Tucker's life in a show bursting with song, cellulite and kosher comedy. A biographical bonanza featuring the wit, wisdom and sock-it-to-em songs of the original Red Hot Mama. Big, bold and brassy, Sophie reigned over American showbiz for over 60 years. She outsold Al Jolson in the 1920s and '30s with hits like "My Yiddeshe Mama" and "Some of These Days." More recently she was the inspiration for Mama Morton in the musical Chicago.' - Whatsonstage.com.

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Sophie Tucker at an Elks' Minstrel Show, English's Opera House, Indianapolis, Monday, 28 February 1910.
'Miss Tucker took her audience by storm, inducing them to unbend enough to sing with her the chorus of "The Cubanola Glide."'
(The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Tuesday, 1 March 1910, p.3a)

Sophie Tucker in Louisiana Lou, La Salle Opera House, Chicago, Sunday, 24 September 1911.
'Sophie Tucker has added to the laurels she first won in Chicago as a vaudeville singer. . .'
(Iowa City Daily Press, Iowa City, Iowa, Wednesday, 27 September 1911, p.2b)

Sophie Tucker on tour in Louisiana Lou, Auditorium, Newark, Ohio, 4 October 1912, en route to Philadelphia and Boston.
'. . . And if Sophie Tucker wants the freedom of this section of the country, she has but to ask for it. Her "Puritan Prance" has caughter on as greatly as did the "Merry Widow" waltz.'
(The Newark Advocate, Newark, Ohio, Tuesday, 1 October 1912, p.8e)

Sophie Tucker on the telephone, 1913
'Talked Fifty Minutes
'They tell about a long distance call over in Quncy that cost one of the leading women in the Louisiana Lou [company] just $24.50. Sophie Tucker was the person that made the call. She spent just fifty and one half minutes at the phone talking to someone. Quincy people have never learned to whom she was talking but just the same she paid the bill.'
(The Daily Review, Dacatur, Illinois, Sunday, 23 February 1913, p.17g)

Sophie Tucker


Sophie Tucker

(photo: Campbell Studios, New York, 1916)

Sophie Tucker at the Orpheum, Winnipeg, week beginning Monday, 9 October 1916.
'Excellent entertainment is to be found in the bill presented at the Orpheum this week. Sophie Tucker, who styles herself "The Mary Garden of Rag-Time," is featured in a turn which exploits the lady in a number of catchy songs, all of which she renders with considerable mimetic ability. Miss Tucker is assisted by a quintette of clever instrumentalists who add quite an effective musical setting to her songs. One is at a loss, however, to understand why Miss Tucker should resort to the cheap trick of burlesquing the French national anthem after announcing that she would sing a patriotic song. No doubt the lady's intentions were of the best but the present is no time for introducing here this sort of thing. Apart from this Miss Tucker's work was of a distinctly clever and artistic character and throughout appreciated by the audience who gave a genuine ovation.'
(Manitoba Free Press, Manitoba, Winnipeg, Tuesday, 10 October 1916, p.4c)

'Sophie Tucker
'Billowy Comedienne Jazz Feast at the New Palace [Fort Wayne, Thursday, 13 September 1917].
'Folks who like their songs and instrumental numbers jazzed will find in Sophie Tucker, the bedimpled, billowy comedienne and her Jazz band at the New Palace a veritable jazz feast. Sophie walks the dog, sings about herself, her act, her Jazz Band, loving Johnny, Dixie and a half score other things in the course of a syncopated number that finds the Tuckerian jazz band scattered over the entire stage and Sophie herself flitting through some dance steps.
'The name Sophie Tucker evidently is no stranger to loyal vaudeville goers, for at both performances yesterday her appearance were signals for storms of applause which some actors might envy after finishing their work.'
(The Fort Wayne Daily News, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Friday, 14 September 1917, p.6b)

'Sophie Tucker at Orpheum
'Wednesday [9 January 1918]
'Sophie Tucker has lots of new ideas, new songs and new gowns this season. Miss Tucker is known to change her act each season. She is a comedian whose professional religion is originality and her mind is always at work on something new. "The Mary Garden of Jazzocopation" or the female "Ty Cobb" of vaudeville, has acquired stage ease and a manner of supercilious poise that becomes her beaming countenance, her professional and her chubby cheery lines.'
(The Lincoln Daily Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, Sunday, 13 January 1918, News and editorial, Music, Theater and Motion Pictures section, p.12a)

'New York, Friday, 13 February 1920.
'The rival firms of Sophie Tucker and Jazz Band and Ted Lewis and Jass Band, have future plans that lead along different routes. Sophie, with her five syncopated monarchs and over-done Yiddish bypalys, has organized a new act that opened at Keith's Alhambra.
'"One year with Sophie tucker," she states, pointing to her nasal-toned cornetist, "and he rides in his own limousine." We have always known Sophie was modest.
'Ted Lewis is working on different lines. After five years of jazz success in Gotham, Ted has given warning that he will jump freight trains to Philadelphia where he will open at the Schubert theater. It was five years ago and on a freight train that Ted came to New York, he states, without a dime in his pocket. He's going to leave the same way in order not to change his luck.'
(Paul M. Sarazan, Reno Evening Gazette, Reno, Nevada, Saturday, 14 February 1920, p.14a)

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