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Florenz Ziegfeld

From Academic Kids

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1928 Time cover featuring Ziegfeld

Florenz Ziegfeld (March 21, 1869July 22, 1932) was a Broadway impresario who achieved fame by perfecting the United States revue. He is best known for his series of theatrical spectaculars the Ziegfeld Follies, based on the Folies Bergères of Paris.

His first foray into the world of entertainment was at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition where managed the famous strongman, Sandow.

His stage spectaculars, beginning with his Follies of 1907 were produced annually until 1931. These extravaganzas featured a bevy of beauties chosen personally by "Flo" Ziegfeld, and featured prominent composers such as Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern, elaborate costumes and sets.

His promotion of Polish-born Anna Held as a Parisian beauty, with press releases about her milk baths brought her fame and set a pattern of star making through publicity. Ziegfeld married Anna in 1897 but she divorced him in 1913 after he moved his mistress into an apartment one floor up from theirs.

The Follies launched the careers of Fanny Brice, W. C. Fields, andEddie Cantor. Ziegfeld married his second wife, actress Billie Burke, in 1914.

Ziegfeld produced other landmark productions as well, including Show Boat. Although he recognized its artistic value, he was terrified Show Boat would fail because of its unusually dramatic storyline. On opening night, the audience (according to an eyewitness) barely applauded, but it was not because they disliked the show, but because they were so taken aback by it. It was a great success, and by 1932, after Ziegfeld had lost much of his money in the stock market crash, he decided to stage a revival of "Show Boat". It became the biggest grosser on Broadway, until the Great Depression affected its run.

On his passing, Florenz Ziegfeld was interred in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

Broadway productions

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"Flo" Ziegfeld & Sandow c. 1893
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