Sophie Tucker 1917
Sophie Tucker as she looked in 1917 – 100 years ago, she was it.

Sophie Tucker Story – October 16, 1953 – NBC Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Sophie Tucker – a name completely unfamiliar to most people. She was one of the biggest stars of the Vaudeville stage in the early years of the last century. And later became a personality and one of the most popular entertainers well into mid-century.

Tucker was known for her bawdy and risquè songs and her comic delivery. Born in the Ukraine in 1887, Tucker and her family settled in Hartford Connecticut where she began her career singing at her parents restaurant. In 1903 Tucker got married at 16, separated and divorced a few years later and became a single-mother. Determined to make a go of it in show business, she landed in New York where she wound up in several small companies where she perfected her double-entendre and comedy. She made her professional debut in 1909 at the Zigfeld Follies, but it didn’t last and she became a professional singer and entertainer on her own.

In the 1920s she had established herself as one of the leading talents of the fledgling recording industry as well as one of the best known entertainers of the period.

As time and tastes in entertainment changed, Sophie Tucker adapted to it all, going on to become a well-known Radio personality, and made the successful transition over to Television in the early 1950s. Her career continued up to the time of her death in 1966.

This program, a tribute to her broadcast in 1953 on the occasion of her Golden Anniversary was a veritable who’s who of Broadway and Hollywood giving tributes and observations on her career – Tallulah Bankhead, Deborah Kerr, Milton Berle, Edward G. Robinson, George Jessel and Dr. Ralph Bunche as well as from Sophie Tucker herlself.

A fascinating glimpse of Entertainment history, even if you aren’t familiar with Sophie Tucker. The participants in the broadcast are worth the price of admission alone. A lot of history jammed into a little under a half hour.

Here is that broadcast, as it happened on October 16, 1953.

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