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Florenz Ziegfeld:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Ziegfeld, Florenz, 1867-1932
Title: Florenz Ziegfeld Collection
Dates: 1893-1979 (bulk 1910-1930)
Extent: 4 document boxes, 20 oversize boxes (11.81 linear feet)
Abstract: The Florenz Ziegfeld Collection, 1893-1979 (bulk 1910-1930), documents Ziegfeld's career as a producer and, to a lesser extent, the contributions of some of the theater professionals associated with him. The bulk of the collection is made up of photographs and sheet music. A complete index of composers, lyricists, arrangers, performers, and song titles concludes the finding aid.
Catalog Record #: TXRC05-A0
Language: English
Access:

Open for research




Acquisition:

Sheet music purchased, 1973 (R5756); other materials assembled from the Albert Davis Collection and W. H. Crain purchases

Provenance: In 1973 the Ransom Center purchased the Ziegfeld sheet music and the Fanny Brice songbook from Robert Baral. Many of the photographs in the Florenz Ziegfeld Collection were culled from the Albert Davis Collection; others are thought to have been in the possession of the Ziegfeld family at one time. Some of the programs were purchased by W. H. Crain.

Processed by:

Helen Adair and Antonio Alfau, 1999, 2005

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


Florenz Ziegfeld was born in 1867 in Chicago. His father, Florenz, Sr., was head of the Chicago Musical College and a significant figure in the cultural life of the city. The junior Ziegfeld worked at his father's conservatory while in high school, earning a promotion to assistant manager in 1885. His lifelong interest in "low" culture was purportedly sparked by seeing Buffalo Bill's "Wild West Show" in 1883.

In 1893 Ziegfeld and his father opened a variety hall in Chicago, the Trocadero, with strongman Eugene Sandow headlining. Later that year Ziegfeld took Sandow to New York City where Ziegfeld soon graduated from promoting acts to producing shows with the backing of "Diamond" Jim Brady and others. In 1896, while scouting for talent in Europe, Ziegfeld met Anna Held and persuaded her to perform for him in New York; they married the following year. During this time Ziegfeld's shows began to exhibit certain features that became hallmarks of his later productions: beautiful chorus girls and a multitude of variety-style musical numbers. By 1905 Ziegfeld was producing musical comedies for the theatrical booking monopoly the Syndicate.

In 1907 Ziegfeld opened the Follies of 1907, a revue in the style of the Paris revues he had seen while overseas in 1905. Emphasizing glamour and beauty, the Follies became a mainstay of Broadway and ran in annual installments until Ziegfeld's death in 1932. Ziegfeld's unfailing ability to choose the best talent ensured that the Follies starred some of the best performers of the day. The Follies featured or made famous Fannie Brice, Bert Williams, Nora Bayes, Jack Norworth, Lillian Lorraine, Ann Pennington, Ed Wynn, W. C. Fields, Olive Thomas, Marilyn Miller, Mary Eaton, and Will Rogers. The 1915 Follies signaled the beginning of Ziegfeld's "mastery" phase in which talent, costumes, and sets were frequently of the highest quality. During Ziegfeld's peak period of 1915-19, Eddie Cantor, Marion Davies, and Van and Schenck appeared with the Follies, and Joseph Urban's lavish sets garnered praise.

In 1911 Ziegfeld renamed the Follies the Ziegfeld Follies. Four years later he instigated the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic, a revue which served as a training ground for the Follies, commencing at midnight and featuring dance music between the acts. The first Ziegfeld Nine O'Clock Frolic (later called the Ziegfeld Nine O'Clock Revue) opened in 1918. (By 1922, Prohibition killed the Frolics which, for their success, had depended on the refreshments as much as the entertainment. The Frolic enjoyed a brief reprisal in 1928 and 1929.) Anna Held divorced Ziegfeld in 1912, and he married the actress Billie Burke in 1914. Their daughter Patricia was born in 1916.

In addition to the Follies, Ziegfeld produced a Somerset Maugham play, Caesar's Wife, and a number of musical comedies, including Sally, Kid Boots, Annie, Louie the 14th, Rio Rita, Show Boat, Hot-Cha!, and The Three Musketeers. In 1927 Ziegfeld opened his own theater, the Ziegfeld, in New York. It was not particularly successful and its owner fled to California in ill health, where he died in 1932. After Ziegfeld's death, Billie Burke presented the 1933 and 1936 editions of the Follies. A 1945 revival starred Milton Berle; in 1957, a Follies with Tallulah Bankhead did not make it to Broadway.


Slide, Anthony. The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Ziegfeld, Richard and Paulette. The Ziegfeld Touch: The Life and Times of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. New York: Harry Abrams, 1993.


Photographs and sheet music make up the bulk of the Florenz Ziegfeld Collection, 1893-1979 (bulk 1910-1930), which documents Ziegfeld's career as a producer and, to a lesser extent, the contributions of some of the theater professionals associated with him. Also present is a very small amount of material concerning posthumous Ziegfeld revivals, spinoffs, and movies. The collection is organized into three series: I. Productions, 1907-1946, II. Individuals, 1893-1979, and III. Sheet Music, 1905-1957. Within each series, material is arranged alphabetically by title of work or chronologically where appropriate.

The full range of Ziegfeld's producing work is represented in the Productions series, which is divided into four subseries: A. Variety Shows, 1907 (1 folder), B. Revues, 1907-1931 (3.5 boxes), C. Fully Staged Productions, 1920-1946 (1 box), and D. Unidentified Productions, nd (2 folders). Ziegfeld's variety work for the Syndicate is represented by a Jardin de Paris program from June 1907. The Revues subseries holds photographs, programs, clippings, and other materials for the Ziegfeld Follies, Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic, Ziegfeld Nine O'Clock Revue, and an unidentified revue, arranged alphabetically by title of production and then chronologically. Many of these shows were photographed by the Hall and White Studios of New York. Notable items include two actors' sides from the 1916 Follies and casts lists for the 1920 edition; clippings documenting the 1957 Follies are located here. In the Revues subseries, dates are given only if they differ from the year the production opened. The Fully Staged Productions subseries contains photographs, programs, and ephemera for eleven "book" shows. Most of this material documents each show's original Ziegfeld production, but later stagings by other producers are also represented. Supplied dates in the folder list represent the date of the show's Broadway opening. Photographs of unidentified productions complete the Productions series.

The Individuals series (12 boxes) contains personal and production photographs for nearly 150 performers associated with Ziegfeld, as well as materials concerning Ziegfeld himself. The series also includes a small number of clippings and other materials such as Ziegfeld's letters, telegrams, and legal documents. An index of correspondents is included in this finding aid. Most of the performers are represented by very few different photographic poses but Myrna Darby, the Dolly Sisters, Gladys Glad, Paulette Goddard, Justine Johnstone, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Allyn King, Raquel Meller, Barbara Newberry, Olga Steck, and Lilyan Tashman are represented by at least seven poses. Over half of the photographs were made by White Studio of New York, N.Y.; other well-represented photographers are De Barron, Hall, Alfred Cheney Johnston, Edward Thayer Monroe, and Ira D. Schwarz. Supplied dates in the folder list represent the date of the Broadway opening of the show in which the performer appeared.

The Sheet Music series (7.5 boxes) contains music for over 600 songs published between 1905 and 1957. Music dating from 1915 to 1924 predominates. While most of the numbers were intended for Ziegfeld's revues, some were popularized by Follies performers but not used by Ziegfeld, and a very small number appear to have no direct Ziegfeld connection. Because the series is arranged by copyright date, not title of production, music from a particular show is often found in two adjacent years; occasionally related songs will be found farther apart when an older song was revived for a new production. A good number of the songs were vehicles for Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth, Fanny Brice, Jose Collins, and Bert Williams. The series also includes songs from several of the posthumous New York Follies revivals, a 1955 Las Vegas show, and the films The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Ziegfeld Girl (1941), and Ziegfeld Follies (1946). Composers and lyricists who are most heavily represented are Irving Berlin, Lew Brown, Gus Edwards, Rudolf Friml, Seymour Furth, James F. Hanley, Victor Herbert, J. Leubrie Hill, Louis A. Hirsch, George V. Hobart, Raymond Hubbell, Jerome Kern, Maurice Levi, Jean Schwartz, Harry Bache Smith, Dave Stamper, and Albert Von Tilzer. A complete index of composers, lyricists, arrangers, performers, and song titles concludes this finding aid.


Elsewhere in the Performing Arts Collection are costume designs by James Reynolds for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1921, located in the W. H. Crain Costume and Scenic Design Collection. The Florenz Ziegfeld Photograph Collection holds a large number of photographs relating to Ziegfeld personalities and productions. Other Ziegfeld papers are held at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.


People

Berlin, Irving, 1888-1989.

Brown, Lew.

Buck, Gene.

De Barron.

Edwards, Gus, 1879-1945.

Friml, Rudolf, 1879-1972.

Furth, Seymour, 1877?-1932.

Hall, photographer.

Hanley, James F. (James Frederick), 1892-1942.

Herbert, Victor, 1859-1924.

Hill, J. Leubrie (John Leubrie), d. 1916.

Hirsch, Louis A. (Louis Achille), 1887-1924.

Hobart, George V. (George Vere), 1867-1926.

Hubbell, Raymond, 1879-1954.

Johnston, Alfred Cheney, 1885-1971.

Kern, Jerome, 1885-1945.

Levi, Maurice.

Monroe, Edward Thayer.

Rodgers, Richard, 1902-1979.

Romberg, Sigmund, 1887-1951.

Schwartz, Jean, 1878-1956.

Schwartz, Ira D.

Smith, Harry Bache, 1860-1936.

Stamper, Dave, 1883-1963.

Von Tilzer, Albert.

Organizations

White Studio.

Works

Hot-Cha!

Three Musketeers.

Sally.

Show Boat.

Betsy.

Louie the 14th.

Subjects

Darby, Myrna.

Glad, Gladys.

Goddard, Paulette.

Johnstone, Justine.

Joyce, Peggy Hopkins, 1893-1957.

King, Allyn.

Meller, Raquel, 1888-1962.

Newberry, Barbara.

Steck, Olga.

Tashman, Lilian, 1899-1934.

Dolly Sisters.

Jardin de Paris.

New Amsterdam Theatre.

Ziegfeld Theatre.

Theatrical producers and directors--United States.

Variety shows (Theater).

Document Types

Photographs.

Programs.

Sheet music.