Fanny Brice: The Original Funny Girl

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Oxford University Press, Oct 7, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 638 pages
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"I've done everything in the theatre except marry a property man," Fanny Brice once boasted. "I've acted for Belasco and I've laid 'em out in the rows at the Palace. I've doubled as an alligator; I've worked for the Shuberts; and I've been joined to Billy Rose in the holy bonds. I've painted the house boards and I've sold tickets and I've been fired by George M. Cohan. I've played in London before the king and in Oil City before miners with lanterns in their caps." Fanny Brice was indeed show business personified, and in this luminous volume, Herbert G. Goldman, acclaimed biographer of Al Jolson, illuminates the life of the woman who inspired the spectacularly successful Broadway show and movie Funny Girl, the vehicle that catapulted Barbra Streisand to super stardom. In a work that is both glorious biography and captivating theatre history, Goldman illuminates both Fanny's remarkable career on stage and radio--ranging from her first triumph as "Sadie Salome" to her long run as radio's "Baby Snooks"--and her less-than-triumphant personal life. He reveals a woman who was a curious mix of elegance and earthiness, of high and low class, a lady who lived like a duchess but cursed like a sailor. She was probably the greatest comedienne the American stage has ever known as well as our first truly great torch singer, the star of some of the most memorable Ziegfeld Follies in the 1910s and 1920s, and Goldman covers her theatrical career and theatre world in vivid detail. But her personal life, as Goldman shows, was less successful. The great love of her life, the gangster Nick Arnstein, was dashing, handsome, sophisticated, but at bottom, a loser who failed at everything from running a shirt hospital to manufacturing fire extinguishers, and who spent a good part of their marriage either hiding out, awaiting trial, or in prison. Her first marriage was over almost as soon as it was consummated, and her third and last marriage, to Billy Rose, the "Bantam Barnum," ended acrimoniously when Rose left her for swimmer Eleanor Holm. As she herself remarked, "I never liked the men I loved, and I never loved the men I liked." Through it all, she remained unaffected, intelligent, independent, and, above all, honest. Goldman's biography of Al Jolson has been hailed by critics, fellow biographers, and entertainers alike. Steve Allen called it "an amazing job of research" and added "Goldman's book brings Jolson back to life indeed." The Philadelphia Inquirer said it was "the most comprehensive biography to date," and Ronald J. Fields wrote that "Goldman has captured not only the wonderful feel of Al Jolson but the heartbeat of his time." Now, with Fanny Brice, Goldman provides an equally accomplished portrait of the greatest woman entertainer of that illustrious era, a volume that will delight every lover of the stage.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
1 A Borach
7
2 Enter Miss Brice
21
3 College Girl
35
4 Shubert Sonata
49
5 Nick Arnstein
61
6 Into Her Own
73
7 The Fugitive
91
12 Rewolt
159
That Rat
171
14 Life Without Roses
183
15 Closing Number
197
The Legacy
211
Bibliography
219
Stageography
223
Filmography
271

8 What Every Woman Nose
101
9 The Divorce from My Man
113
10 The ShortStemmed Rose
131
11 Baby Snooks at Last
147
Radiography
277
Discography
287
Index
291
Copyright

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Page 5 - I'd have a boy and a girl, and I had them. I always hoped the boy would have the talent, and not the girl, and it worked out that way. Because, as I realize it, I didn't want my daughter to have a career. Because if a woman has a career, she misses an awful lot. And I knew it then, that if you have a career, then the career is your life.

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About the author (1993)

Herbert G. Goldman is a free-lance writer who lives in New York City. He is currently working on a biography of Eddie Cantor.

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