On this evening in 1907, master showman, Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., staged his first-ever Ziegfeld Follies production atop the roof of the New York Theatre, 46 Bowery, on New York’s Lower East Side. Dressed in elaborate costumes and standing upon fantastical stage settings, Ziegfeld’s hand-picked beauties would sing and dance to the music of American composers like (in later years) Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern. Ziegfeld modeled his reviews on the Folies Bergère in Paris and was known as “the glorifier of the American girl.” He continued to produce an annual review until 1931, the year before his death. The New York Theatre was opened in 1826 and had 3,500 seats which made it America’s largest theatre at the time. Although the theatre started as a rather posh establishment, it became even more popular as the Lower East Side changed to a more working class neighborhood. German, Jewish, Irish, Italian and Chinese producers all took turns staging productions for their communities. The building caught fire on several occasions, finally burning-down for good in 1929 after which it was never rebuilt.
The bookends, above, provide a thematic link to Ziegfeld and his Follies. They were made in France in the 1920’s and would have been right-at-home on Flo Ziegfeld’s desk. Please click on the photo to learn more about them.
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