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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Right Idea.

Sophie Tucker was this huge star in Vaudeville.
Mainly in the 20's and 30's, until there was no more vaudeville.
And she was old then.
After that, she was still a huge star in nightclubs.
And she also gravitated to the Ed Sullivan Show, the last vestige of Vaudeville.
That was really my only exposure to her.
I really didn't get her.
She seemed ponderous, pious, self-important, humorless, and imperious.
She sang, or talked-sang, about show business, or patriotism.
It all seemed pretty embarrassing.
Martin Short, in his new autobiography, talks about his character, Irving Cohen, the ancient Jewish songwriter,
as having been based on Sophie Tucker, whom he had only seen in similar contexts.
It was a parody.
He felt the same way about her as I did.
But there was another side to Sophie Tucker, one that I was not aware of until very recently.
There was an abundance of special material written for her when she was in Vaudeville.
Most of it was quite racy.
Most of it was quite hilarious.
Most, if not all of it, was performed by Ms. Tucker quite perfunctorally.
In that same heavy-handed style of hers.
It was, again, the wrong idea.
I learned this by seeking out her albums, which I found easily.
Why did I seek them out?
Because a couple of weeks ago, PBS aired a Michael Feinstein special, which featured other cabaret performers.
It took place at the refurbished Rainbow Room high atop 30 Rock.
Feinstein started talking about some of the stars who had played the Rainbow Room in the past.
And he mentioned Sophie Tucker.
This led to a segue for an introduction of June Squibb, the actress who was nominated for an Oscar last year as Bruce Dern's wife in "Nebraska". (She should have won.)
Feinstein told the audience that Tucker had all that special material written for her, and that Squibb would sing one of those songs that Tucker made popular long ago, "I'm Living Alone And I Like It".
Squibb, seated at a table, with drink in hand, launched into the song, and proceeded to blow the roof off the dump.
Perfect timing, perfect comedic attitude.
She was incredibly funny.
You can check this all out at PBS.org.
I think they are still showing it.
Anyway, this put an idea into my head.
I went to the Spotify website, where it seems they have every album ever recorded.
I found the Sophie Tucker album that contained "I'm Living Alone And I Like It".
It was abominably unfunny.
I then listened to many other cuts on that album.
All racy, all hilariously written, all not well-performed.
There is enough great material out there to make an entire for evening or two for a one-woman show for June Squibb to embody Sophie Tucker in a way that Sophie never deserved, but we as an audience very much do.
Either on Broadway, Off-Broadway, or in a Cabaret.
June Squibb is 83 years old now.
I don't know if she sat at that table, drink in hand because she has trouble walking or standing, but if that's the case, let her just sit there so you can drink her in.
Some enterprising producer is missing a major bet by not following through on this.
An evening with June Squibb as Sophie Tucker is very much the right idea.


********

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not e-books.
But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:
http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

3 comments:

  1. In 1952, Fox made a movie called "Phone Call from a Stranger," starring Gary Merrill, with Bette Davis.

    More importantly (to my mind), it was written by Nunnally Johnson, whose work I've always admired.

    Anyway, there's a character in the movie who is played by Evelyn Varden and who I suspect is a takeoff on Sophie Tucker. She's only in one scene, but it's a good one.

    If you've never seen the film, you might enjoy it. There's an especially good performance by Keenan Wynn.

    And I think the film is on YouTube.

    ReplyDelete
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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."