The Oscars and Hollywood’s Most Enigmatic Figure

It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about your taxes being due. I’m talking about that time of year when actors, actresses, directors, and some of the biggest names known in the movie industry gather together under one roof to celebrate some of the biggest achievements in Hollywood over the past year. Yes! It’s the Oscars. That’s right! Get excited!

There is no better way to officially kick off the week leading up to the 87th Academy Awards than to shed some light on one of the most prominent and leading men in Hollywood: Florenz Ziegfeld. Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not Brad Pitt.

Florenz Ziegfeld, widely known as “Flo” Ziegfeld was a celebrated Broadway impresario during the earlier part of the twentieth century.

A picture of Florenz Ziegfeld

He produced theatrical revues, the Ziegfeld Follies, where beautiful women in extravagant costumes would put on a choreographed performance. During the turn of the century, these elaborate and decadent shows were well renowned. It is the equivalency to a burlesque show in today’s society.

Ziegfeld was also famous for his production of stage musicals. His most famous was the musical Show Boat, which was extremely well received by the public. Three of his musicals were made into films. Fun fact: There are three film productions of Show Boat. Two of them were produced and released after Ziegfeld’s death.

The original sheet music for the musical from 1927

Ziegfield made many lasting contributions as a producer to Broadway and to Hollywood. After his death, a semi-biographical movie was created, The Great Ziegfeld, which won an Oscar in 1936 for Best Picture.

Many rumors and myths surround one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. He was supposedly a womanizer and a vicious and hard tempered producer when working. This notoriety may be one of the reasons he is less known in show business. Whatever the reason, Ziegfeld has contributed much to Broadway and to Hollywood and without him, the showbiz industry may have turned out much differently than what it is today.
To find out more about this most prominent producer in Broadway, read Ziegfeld and his Follies: A Biography of Broadway’s Greatest Producer, a book soon to be published by UPK and written by Cynthia and Sara Brideson.

Front cover for the book

The book depicts not only Ziegfeld’s professional life, but delves into his personal life and uncovers the truth behind his ill repute and the secrets that have been kept hidden until now. It is due to be released for publication this summer. This is a must read for anyone interested in Ziegfeld or in reading one of Hollywood’s most intriguing narratives.

Another fun fact: Florenz Ziegfeld was married to Billie Burke—Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the 1939 movie adaptation The Wizard of Oz!!


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