Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Entertainment: Backward Glances (4)

Topic: Ziegfeld Follies: Midnight Frolic (1915-1922) #1

In 1915 Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., added the Midnight Frolic atop the New Amsterdam Theatre. It was ten flights up and in the heart of Times Square. Patrons applauded with little wooden hammers, snapped balloons, raced with pogo-sticks, and talked inter-table by telephone service. Zieggy spent #30,000 weekly to run the Frolic__salaries amounted to $6,400 a week, with the stars getting $700 each; the top salary for the chorus girls was $60. A cover charge of $2 was introduced for the nine o'clock performance, and for the midnight show it was upped to $3. A special performance was presented on Lincoln's birthday at five o'clock in the afternoon, but holiday patronage was nil.

The first 1915 Frlic was called Nothing But Girls, with Norah Bayes headlining the entertainment. Flo originally intended to use only eight choice beauties in the line, but he ended up with twenty-four!

Will Rogers in 1915 and Eddie Cantor both made their Ziegfeld debuts upstairs before joining the Follies. Among others who bowed in at the Midnight Frolic were Harry Richman (as a pianist__he was to wait until 1931 when Ziegfeld produced his final Follies before he worked for him again), and Frances White, the baby-talking songstress: Cliff Edwards, Bird Millman, Evan Burrows Fontaine, Muriel Hudson, Sybil Carmen, Marion Harris, Kathlyn Martyn, Edythe Baker, Odette Myrtil, Norma Terris, Mary Hay, Princess White Deer, Yvonne Shelton, Joe Frisco, Bob LaSalle, Hal Hixon, Teddie Gerard, Georgie Price, Max Fisher's Orchestra with Earl Burnette and Charles Dornberger in the personnel, Ford Dabney and his Band, Art Hickman and his Orchestra and Mlle. Spinelly and Maurice Chevalier from Paris.

The Frolic folded in 1922__because of prohibition. It was later reopened as the Dresden Roof, but in 1923 changed back to the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic name. It was not successful. (27)

Sources Utilized to Document Information


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