Did You Know? Mondays
Fanny Brice (October 29, 1891 - May 29, 1951) was an American illustrated song model, comedienne, singer, and actress featured in theater, film, and radio. From 1918 to 1927, Brice worked consistently on the stage. She appeared in editions of the Ziegfeld Follies, as well as several other Ziegfeld shows, and non-Ziegfeld shows. She made records, performed in vaudeville, & produced the films Is Zat So? and The Brown Derby. She worked hard and described herself as “a cartoonist working in the flesh." Did you know that Fanny Brice was the first woman to star in a partial talkie? She was recognized as a comedienne but desperately sought respect as a serious performer; and at the beginning of the sound era, Warner Bros. tried to make her the woman equivalent of the famed Al Jolson, but her films mostly flopped. Fanny was actually born Fanny Borach; she was the daughter of Jewish immigrants, and prejudices of the time made her ascent as a dramatic actress challenging. In fact, it seems her desire to distance herself from the perceived ethnicity of her comedy was a motivator in her pursuit of a more dramatic career. She changed her name in 1908 to Brice to seem less Jewish and less ethnic, and in the 1920s she also decided to have cosmetic surgery on her nose - which she ultimately felt was unsuccessful. Her established comedic image coupled with antisemitism, and perhaps her own self confessed discomfort in front of the camera led her back to comedy...and to radio. In 1937, in her mid-40s, she launched a new career in radio; and foregoing her arsenal of comic creations (often a performer in the dialect comedy tradition, Brice played to the prejudices of the time) she only played Baby Snooks, a character who did not require an accent of any kind. The Baby Snooks Show became a bonafide hit, and ran until Brice's death in 1951.
Ironically, though Fanny never acquired the film stardom she sought, Fanny’s life was the subject of several films. Another kind of performance fame awaited Fanny, though - radio drama.
Thanks to newworldencyclopedia.org and tcm.com for the great info on Fanny!