I was born in the late 1800’s in NYC. Dad came from Alsace and worked as a bartender and mom was Hungarian-Jewish and toiled behind a sewing machine in a fur factory. I spent some of my formative years in Newark, NJ before we moved to Brooklyn.
I was never much one for school and by 8th grade I dropped out to work in burlesque. I couldn’t dance but I could sing pretty well and I developed quite a flair for comedy. Ethnic comedy was very popular at that time and though I couldn’t speak Yiddish, I could give a plausible imitation of someone speaking that language. I parodied actors, opera singers, and ballerinas often using outlandish gestures along with my uncanny skill as a dialect comedian. I shared stages with some of the great entertainers of that time including Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Jack Benny and Eddie Cantor. I appeared on stage at the Majestic Theatre in Jersey City. Some of you seniors might even remember me from there! I also had quite a long association with “Flo” and became one of the headliners in his shows.
I mentioned that I could sing and that skill led me to recording sessions and song releases at both Victor and Columbia.
I tried my hand in other media and had a successful career in radio where I really submerged myself into the character of a bratty toddler who was actually a thorough and honest depiction of my real self!
I was married three times but none of my marriages endured. One guy was a con man who served time for bond theft and wiretapping. My third husband was an impresario and a showman. He once said of me that “I stood out like a bagel in a loaf of white bread….” Very complimentary, he was….
I had a rhinoplasty procedure because I hoped it would advance my career. One wit wrote of it by writing, “She cut off her nose to spite her race…”
Long before Frank Sinatra sang “My Way” I wrote the following in my planned autobiography: ” I lived the way I wanted to live and never did what people said I should do or advised me to do.” I had no regrets. I have 2 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and I have been honored by a U.S. commemorative stamp.
That’s me in the photo below. (1)Who Am I? (2)What two songs am I most associated with? (3)Where did I sing my first song on stage and what song did I sing? (4)Who made that acerbic comment about my rhinoplasty? (5) Who was my third husband and what was his connection to the ’39 World’s Fair? (6) Who else was honored in that same series of U.S. commemorative postage stamps at the same time as I was?