Ziegfeld by Ethan Mordden
The Man Who Invented Show Business

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews



Any girl who twists her hat will be fired! – Florenz Ziegfeld

And no Ziegfeld girl ever did as she made her way down the gala stairways of the Ziegfeld Follies in some of the most astonishing spectacles the American theatergoing public ever witnessed.  When Florenz Ziegfeld started in theater, it was flea circus, operetta and sideshow all rolled into one.  When he left it, the glamorous world of "show-biz" had been created.  Though many know him as the man who "glorified the American girl," his first real star attraction was the bodybuilder Eugen Sandow, who flexed his muscles and thrilled the society matrons who came backstage to squeeze his biceps.  His lesson learned with Sandow, Ziegfeld went on to present Anna Held, the naughty French sensation, who became the first Mrs. Ziegfeld.  He was one of the first impresarios to mix headliners of different ethnic backgrounds, and literally the earliest proponent of mixed-race casting.  The stars he showcased and, in some cases, created have become legends: Billie Burke (who also became his wife), elfin Marilyn Miller, cowboy Will Rogers, Bert Williams, W. C. Fields, Eddie Cantor and, last but not least, neighborhood diva Fanny Brice.  A man of voracious sexual appetites when it came to beautiful women, Ziegfeld knew what he wanted and what others would want as well.  From that passion, the Ziegfeld Girl was born. Elaborately bejeweled, they wore little more than a smile as they glided through eye-popping tableaux that were the highlight of the Follies, presented almost every year from 1907 to 1931.  Ziegfeld's reputation and power, however, went beyond the stage of the Follies as he produced a number of other musicals, among them the ground-breaking Show Boat.  In Ziegfeld: The Man Who Created Show Business, Ethan Mordden recreates the lost world of the Follies, a place of long-vanished beauty masterminded by one of the most inventive, ruthless, street-smart and exacting men ever to fill a theatre on the Great White Way : Florenz Ziegfeld.


About Ethan Mordden

See more books from this Author
Ethan Mordden's work has appeared in The New Yorker (three short stories, A Critic At Large features, and book review leads), The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. His Christopher Street column, Is There a Book In This?, gave birth to the five volumes of gay stories known as the Buddies series, about a "family" of friends enjoying life and love in Manhattan. Mordden's non-fiction includes books on New York cultural history (The Guest List: How Manhattan Defined American Sophistication), opera, Hollywood, and Broadway, including a six-volume history of the American musical.
Published November 11, 2008 by St. Martin's Press. 372 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ziegfeld

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Ever the witty and erudite raconteur, Mordden (All That Glittered: The Golden Age of Drama on Broadway, 1919–1959, 2007, etc.) transports readers to the time when Times Square was just an intersection of streets.

| Read Full Review of Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invente...

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

Drawing on already popular forms — burlesque, vaudeville, the topical revues of Paris — Ziegfeld recombined elements of each to give a racing new pulse to the variety format.

Nov 23 2008 | Read Full Review of Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invente...

Reader Rating for Ziegfeld

An aggregated and normalized score based on 16 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review