Monday, October 29, 2007

Fanny Brice Dies at the Age of 59 -- but the memory lives on

Hollywood, Calif., May 29, 1951--Fanny Brice, stage and screen comedienne and the Baby Snooks of radio, died today at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. Her age was 59.

Although known chiefly as a comedienne, Fanny Brice first became internationally famous for singing a torch song, "My Man." Channing Pollock wrote English words to the French tune, "Mon Homme," which Miss Brice introduced in "The Ziegfeld Follies." It proved a "natural," since it appealed to every woman who had ever been in love.

Her classic burlesque and pointed satire formed a hardy perennial of the "Follies" almost every year starting in 1916, when she first did a comic version of a dying swan ballet. Her lampoon of sultry Theda Bara, her take-off of "Camille," with W. C. Fields as the maid, and her travesty on fan dancers and the modern dance, were part of the repertoire of the actress whom Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times described as "a burlesque comic of the rarest vintage."

She was billed with Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, W. C. Fields, Willie Howard and other top Broadway performers through the years, in which she appeared in such shows as the "Follies," "Music Box Review of 1924," "Sweet and Low" and Billy Rose's "Crazy Quilt." She also put across the song, "Rose of Washington Square."

She created the character Baby Snooks, originally acting the part of the annoying little girl at parties for the entertainment of friends. Later Snooks was regularly featured in sketches in the "Follies" and was introduced to radio in 1938.

After an eleven-year run, Baby Snooks went off the air when its sponsorship on the Columbia Broadcasting System network was withdrawn by General Foods. In November, 1949, however, Miss Brice resumed the role under a long-term contract with the National Broadcasting Company. The company announced yesterday that the program would be off the air for the remainder of the season, the spot being filled by an orchestra.

She was really Fannie Borach, daughter of a saloon-keeper on Forsythe Street in the crowded Lower East Side, where she was born in 1892. Her first appearance on any stage took place when she was 13 at Keeney's Theatre in Brooklyn, where she won an amateur night contest singing, "When You Know You're Not Forgotten by the Girl You Can't Forget." The prize was $5 and numerous coins hurled by the audience, and from that night on Miss Brice gave up school for the stage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Over five months later, after Baby Snooks's passing, Edward Leedskalnin dies quietly in his sleep.