Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invented Show Business Hardcover – Nov 11 2008
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“[Ethan Mordden possesses] the kind of long view and deep investigation that almost no writer has previously brought to bear on the [history of the Broadway stage].”
--Jesse Greene, The New York Times
Praise for "All that Glittered: The Golden Age of Drama on Broadway, 1919-1959"
“Ethan Mordden, the almost absurdly prolific theatrical chronicler, has compiled a serious and engaging history. Mordden’s evocation of the glory days of drama is a handsome reminder—the next best thing, as they say, to being there.”—The Washington Post Book World
“Erudite, but casual and conversational, and full of fresh perceptions, Mordden is a charmingly insightful raconteur who condenses 40 years' worth of opening nights into a single engrossing montage."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“[A] witty, compulsively readable style and knack for finding the right figures to focus on in each era. Mordden is a master at revealing the web of aesthetic and business connections just beneath the surface of developments.”—Booklist
“More than enlivening description, Mordden offers social, political, aesthetic and cultural context as he discusses what led to Broadway's ascendancy and demise. Mordden's keen eye, broad vision, wealth of detail and sparkling style bring to life the American rialto at its peak."—Kirkus Reviews
“Exudes intelligence and wit. The author clearly possesses a passion for and an involvement with the theater, and he easily wins over the reader (who may strongly disagree with his views as the book progresses) in the first few pages with his conversational style and sly wisecracks. This is an enthralling exploration of a legendary and glamorous time in theater history.”-- Library Journal
About the Author
Ethan Mordden has written extensively for The New Yorker and The New York Times. Besides non-fiction on theatre, music, and film, he is the author of the Buddies cycle of short stories. The stories, adapted for the stage by Scott Edward Smith as Buddies, played an engagement at the Celebration Theater in Los Angeles. His most recent novel is The Jewcatcher, a savage black-comic fantasy on life in Nazi Germany.
Top Customer Reviews
In reading Ethan Mordden's amazingly comprehensive book one discovers the immense contribution of Ziegfeld to the craft. His work and association with the artist, entertainers and notable of the era is surprising, from Anna Held, Billie Burke, Marilyn Miller, Will Rogers, W. C. Fields, Fanny Brice, Adele and Fred Astair, Irvin Berlin, Eddie Cantor, "Diamond Jim" Bradley, George Gershwin, William Randolph Hearst and Lillian Lorraine. As the first theatre producer to mix headliners of different ethnic backgrounds, and the earliest to mixed-race cast Ziegfeld changed theatre. As he did with the production of the first modern musical the ground-breaking Show Boat.
Mordden's book was a surprise and a please to read and I would recommend it to any one working in the theatre today.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Mordden knows everything about Broadway, so he doesn't want to weigh you down with the dull stuff. He knows that, like Ziegfeld, you must keep the audience constantly alert. He wants to pour you the hot tea in the most delicious way with lots of inside jokes, campy wordplay, heavy sarcasm, snide and snarky putdowns, bitchy asides.
Examples? There's a book which "bore such occult power that straights who as much as glanced here and there in them were instantly struck gay, never to return." "That tryout hell that everyone keeps wishing on Hitler." A certain song is "a gingerbread doll baked by Erik Satie." "So quiet one could hear the lint accumulating in men's trouser cuffs." An almost throwaway description of the death of Charles Cochran (p. 294) is so bizarre and grotesque that you almost wish Mordden had written your high school history texts.
Little nuggets of trivia gleam at you like flecks of gold in a dry creek bed. The tone is always "I know more about everything than you do, so just listen and absorb." That's fine with me. We learn that Show Boat is the greatest musical ever, that Ziegfeld invented much of what we consider standard, that he was always suffering from money problems, that he had great fun feuds with his stars and rival producers. This really is an excellent read. My only complaint is that the pictures are too small, so you can't see the faces very well. But this book is not about little pictures; it's about a show biz giant, and Mordden has made of him a fascinating and entertaining portrait, framed by admiration and verve.
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