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Legends of the Follies: fact and fiction in the performance history of three songs from the Ziegfeld Follies

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Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. is a legend, both in the history of Broadway and in American popular culture. It is therefore hardly surprising that his most famous Broadway productions, the Ziegfeld Follies, are often characterized according to legendary stories about their creator, their star performers, and their appeal with American audiences. Historical evidence, however, often differs significantly from what these legendary stories suggest. This study examines the performance history of three songs Shine On, Harvest Moon, My Man, and A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody from their original performances in the Ziegfeld Follies to the renditions seen in MGM's The Great Ziegfeld of 1936. It reveals that the legends of how these songs were first performed and received in the Ziegfeld Follies are largely untrue, exaggerations based on performances other than the originals.

Keywords: History; Legends; Popular Culture; Publicity; Song; Ziegfeld Follies

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Ohio State University.

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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  • Studies in Musical Theatre is a refereed journal which considers areas of live performance that use vocal and instrumental music in conjunction with theatrical performance as a principal part of their expressive language.
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