Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Worth 1,000 Words: EDDIE CANTOR & Family

By Steve Crum

EDDIE CANTOR (Jan. 31, 1892- Oct. 10, 1964) is a true icon in American show business. This multi-talented entertainer excelled as a comedian, singer, dancer, actor and songwriter for over 50 years. Cantor, nicknamed "Banjo Eyes" because of the prominent eyes which he frequently rolled to the delight of audiences, was a showbiz trailblazer, starring in vaudeville and Broadway shows (the latter mostly produced by the great Flo Ziegfeld); via his records and sheet music; starring in enormously popular movies; and headlining his own highly rated TV shows, notably The Colgate Comedy Hour. Though not billed "The World's Greatest Entertainer" as was his close friend and fellow artist, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor (aka "The Apostle of Pep") was nonetheless a superstar in his own right and one extraordinary entertainer and human being.

Cantor's humanitarian deeds are legendary, and include his establishment (with President Franklin Roosevelt) and naming of "The March of Dimes," created to help fund the campaign to defeat polio.

The Eddie Cantor Story (1953), though not nearly an accurate and worthy enough biography to do Cantor justice, does include Cantor's actual singing on its soundtrack. His vibrant and often soulful singing voice is the film's huge plus factor. Among the dozens of Cantor signature songs are: "If You Knew Susie," "Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider," "Margie," "Makin' Whoopee," and "How Ya' Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm?"
The rarely seen press photo above is dated Nov. 28, 1945, and titled "A Night at the Waldorf." Its text tells the story: NEW YORK--While the other guests are dancing in the Wedgwood Room of the Waldorf-Astoria here, Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Cantor and two of their five daughters, Marilyn (left) and Janet (right) are interested spectators. The eyes of Cantor are popping as usual. [from Steve Crum's showbiz memorabilia collection]

For the record, Eddie and his famous wife Ida's other daughters, not shown, are Marjorie, Natalie and Edna.
Eddie Cantor sings "Makin' Whoopee" from 1930's "Whoopee!":

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