“A cartoonist working in the flesh”

Layout 1Above: Fanny Brice, glamorous and goofy.

ON THIS DATE in 1910, eighteen-year-old Fanny Brice debuted with the Ziegfeld Follies. After hearing her sing in a Broadway burlesque, Florenz Ziegfeld had signed the former Fannie Borach to a $75 a week contract and put her in his famed musical revue.

Self-described as “a cartoonist working in the flesh,” Brice became an almost instant hit with her comic songs and offbeat characterizations. She left the Follies for five years in 1911 but returned in 1916 and ’17 and for five Ziegfeld productions from 1919 to 1924. Brice also appeared in films and was a great success on radio.

Funny Girl, a 1964 stage musical, was loosely based on Brice’s life. In 1968 Barbra Streisand starred in the film version, which brought her a best actress Oscar.

DECEMBER 29: Show-biz legends and Miss America’s rescuer

Deadly_FireABOVE: William Fielden and 1964 Miss America, Donna Axum.

THERE IS NO VIDEO of sixteen-year-old Milton Berle’s solo comedy debut, but there is a recording of thirteen-year-old Barbra Streisand’s singing on a record. The most dramatic teenage tale tied to December 29 occurred in 1963, when a nineteen-year-old student saved three people from a hotel fire — including the reigning Miss America.

DEC. 29, 1924: MILTON BERLE, sixteen, makes his solo debut at Loew’s State Theater in Times Square, performing a 12-minute comedy routine at the cinema’s vaudeville house. The showbiz legend would earn the nickname “Mr. Television” by starring on NBC’s “Texaco Star Theater from 1948 to 1954.

DEC. 29, 1955: BARBRA STREISAND, thirteen, makes her first-ever musical recording. The song is “You’ll Never Know,” and you can hear it at … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVHlawFjf08

DEC. 29, 1963: WILLIAM FIELDEN, nineteen, rescues three people, including the reigning Miss America, Donna Axum, from a hotel fire in Jacksonville, Florida. Fielden breaks into Axum’s suite, pulling the beauty queen and two others from the blaze, which would claim 22 lives. Although this took place in 1963, Axum had already been crowned Miss America for 1964.

JUNE 20

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JUNE 20

Above: Fanny Brice, glamorous and goofy.

ON THIS DATE in 1910, eighteen-year-old Fanny Brice debuted with the Ziegfeld Follies. After hearing her sing in a Broadway burlesque, Florenz Ziegfeld had signed the former Fannie Borach to a $75 a week contract and put her in his famed musical revue.

Self-described as “a cartoonist working in the flesh,” Brice became an almost instant hit with her comic songs and offbeat characterizations. She left the Follies for five years in 1911 but returned in 1916 and ’17 and for five Ziegfeld productions from 1919 to 1924. Brice also appeared in films and was a great success on radio.

Funny Girl, a 1964 stage musical, was loosely based on Brice’s life. In 1968 Barbra Streisand starred in the film version, which brought her a best actress Oscar.