Fanny Brice, Actress/singer
d. 1951.
Starred in the Ziegfeld Follies and on Radio and Films.
née: Frances Borach.

The fame of vaudeville legend Fanny Brice has been largely carried on in a biographical adaptation of her life that has almost nothing to do with the facts of the case, the musical Funny Girl, a star vehicle designed for Barbra Streisand.

The real Fanny Brice was, in her time, a tremendously popular comedienne who first established herself in vaudeville and later in radio, portraying her trademark character, Baby Snooks. Her skill at Yiddish/English dialect, penchant for wacky facial expressions, and loud, perfectly timed comic singing voice endeared her to American audiences for more than four decades.

Fanny Brice was born Fania Borach in New York's Lower East Side and dropped out of school in the eighth grade to become a chorus girl. While some sources place the beginning of Brice's career in Yiddish vaudeville, she did not speak Yiddish and seems to have bypassed that step in favor of regular vaudeville.

In 1909, she scored her first success singing an Irving Berlin song, "Sadie Salome, Go Home," in a musical called The College Girls while performing a parody on "The Dance of the Seven Veils" from Richard Strauss' opera Salome. This attracted the attention of impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, and though Brice, it seems, would've made an unlikely "Follies Girl," she appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1910; Brice was 18 years old.
Brice continued through 1923 to star in several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies as a top-billed performer alongside acts such as W.C. Fields, Raymond Hitchcock, Van & Schenck, Moran & Mack, and Ted Lewis. She was also a featured attraction in shows produced by Irving Berlin and Billy Rose, whom she married in 1929 (Brice divorced him in 1938). Brice popularized the classic torch song "My Man" and was indelibly associated with such comic songs as "Second-Hand Rose" and "I'm an Indian." At the height of her popularity as a stage star, Brice attempted to take on roles in serious plays, but her efforts to this end proved unsuccessful.
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In 1918, Brice married Nicky Arnstein, a second-tier racketeer and con man who by 1920 had become implicated in a Wall Street bond robbery. Although in retrospect it seems likely that Arnstein was not guilty in the matter, he was convicted and sent to Leavenworth in 1924. Upon his release three years later, Arnstein disappeared and was never heard from again. This sad tale ultimately became the seed for Funny Girl; Brice's later marriage to Billy Rose provided the inspiration for the film musical Funny Lady. While neither of these fictionalized projects reflects the true life story of Fanny Brice, one film that does is Rose of Washington Square (1939), starring Alice Faye. The resemblance was so close, in fact, that Brice sued the film's producer, 20th Century Fox, for defamation of character; Brice and the studio settled out of court.

With arrival of talking pictures, Brice went to Hollywood and starred in a Vitaphone feature, My Man (1928), and Be Yourself (1930) for United Artists. Both of these films were failures, and Brice soon returned to Broadway. At some point during the early '30s, while appearing in some of the posthumous stage editions of the Ziegfeld Follies, Brice developed the persona of the bratty widdle kid Baby Snooks.

Brice revived this character on an episode of a radio program entitled The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air, which aired February 29, 1936. The public response was immediate, and throughout the late '30s Brice carried Baby Snooks through an assortment of variety programs until settling in with Maxwell House Coffee Time in 1940. By 1944, her spot on the radio schedule was finally named.
fanny_brice_spud_adsized.jpg fanny_brice_spud_ad. picture by confetta_bucket
The Baby Snooks Show in earnest. Brice often performed the part of Baby Snooks in an adult-sized baby outfit, departing from the usual standard of radio actors in that relatively few of them dressed the part when playing a character. As popular as she had been on Broadway in the early '20s, it was nothing compared to her success portraying Baby Snooks, and through this character Fanny Brice became a national institution. Brice suffered a stroke on May 24, 1951, and died five days later at the age of 50. She had long suffered from nervous disorders, and in the past had been known to cancel out of stage productions on the advice of physicians. An entire subplot was developed on The Baby Snooks Show in 1945 in which Baby Snooks had been kidnapped -- this was in order to cover an illness that Brice suffered, taking her out of the cast for several weeks.

Interested persons hoping to grasp something of Brice's early stage career are in for a disappointment; although she began recording in 1916 for Columbia, she only did so sporadically through 1930, and cut just 26 titles -- six of these were rejected, and four of the issued recordings are versions of "My Man." The Vitaphone film musical bearing that title has disappeared; though all but one of the soundtrack discs have been recovered, these are long on spoken dialogue and short on music. Brice appeared in only 11 films, usually in guest cameos, and three of these are shorts; she apparently never appeared on television.
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In an attempt to get at the appeal of Fanny Brice, you would have to weigh this tiny amount of film clips and recordings against the veritable mountain of Baby Snooks broadcasts that survive, and under the circumstances there is no way to get a balanced picture of her talents -- several critics who have seen Brice on film have commented that they can't understand why she was so popular. Nonetheless, Fanny Brice was considered to be the greatest Jewish female comedienne of her day. It's a pity that her greatest moments were sustained on the Broadway stage, as more than 50 years after she died, posterity is barely able to grasp what Fanny Brice's celebrity was about, based on the legacy that has survived.
~ Uncle Dave Lewis

Hadda Hopgood Brooks, piano/vocals
b: Los Angeles, CA, USA. d. Nov. 21, 2002
She was born Hadda Hopgood in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, California.
A versatile performer whose career spanned almost six decades and whose repertoire included boogiefied classics, blues ,ballads and torch songs , Brooks became known as "the Queen of Boogie Woogie " right after the release, in 1945 , of her first single, "Swingin' the Boogie".

Born into a prominent African American family from Georgia , she was taught to play the piano from the age of four and later studied classical music. In the course of her career, Brooks also appeared in films, mainly as a pianist and/or lounge singer Out of the Blue, 1947; In a Lonely Place ,1950, performing "I Hadn't Anyone 'Til You"). 
In the 1950s , she was one of the first African American women to host her own television show (The Hadda Brooks Show). After an early retirement, which she spent in Hawaii and Australia , she returned to Los Angeles to be rediscovered in 1986 .
She died of heart failure in
Los Angeles at the age of 86.
Her most famous songs include:
"Swingin' the Boogie"
"That's My Desire"
"Romance in the Dark"
"Don't Take Your Love From Me"
"Say It with a Kiss"

Official Site

"Ramblin' Jimmie Dolan
(Cowboy) vocals/guitar
b. Gardena, CA, USA. d: July 31, 1994.
"America's Cowboy Troubador". 
Jimmie Lee "Ramblin' Jimmie" Dolan was a Western swing musician. Although he had several hit songs, including "Who's Kiddin' Who", he is best remembered for his hit single, "Hot Rod Race", which reached #7 in February 1951

Photograph of Dan Emmett in 
blackface probably early 1860s.
Daniel Decatur Emmett, Composer
b: Mt. Vernon, OH, USA. d: June 28, 1904, Mt.Vernon, OH, USA.
Daniel Decatur Emmett is remembered today chiefly for a song he wrote in 1859 . . . Dixie. He is also known for his role in the Virginia Minstrels.
I wish I was in de land ob cotton,
Old times dar am not forgotten;
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land!
(Dixie's Land, 1-3)

Neal Hefti, Trumpet/Composer
b. Hastings, NE. trumpet/arranger with Woody Herman's Silver Award orch. later with Joe Marsala.
One of the top jazz arranger/composers of the 1950s, Neal Hefti first wrote charts in the late '30s for Nat Towles. He contributed arrangements to the Earl Hines big band; played trumpet with Charlie Barnet, Horace Heidt, and Charlie Spivak (1942-1943); and toured with Woody Herman's First Herd (1944-1946), marrying Herman's singer Francis Wayne. It was with Herman that Hefti began to get a strong reputation, arranging an updated "Woodchopper's Ball" and "Blowin' Up a Storm," and composing "The Good Earth" and "Wild Root."
He also took a notable solo during a Lucky Thompson session on "From Dixieland to Bop." However, Hefti soon relegated his trumpet playing to a secondary status (although he played it on an occasional basis into the 1960s) and concentrated on his writing. He contributed charts to the orchestras of Charlie Ventura (1946), Harry James (1948-1949), and most notably Count Basie (1950-1962). For Basie, he wrote "Little Pony," "Cute," "Li'l Darling," "Whirlybird," and many other swinging songs, often utilizing Frank Wess' flute in inventive fashion. Neal Hefti also led his own bands off and on in the 1950s, but in later years concentrated on writing for films while remaining influenced by his experiences in the jazz world. Hefti passed away at his California home on October 11, 2008, at age 85.
~ Scott Yanow
Narciso Martinez, (Tejano Conjunto) accordion
b. Reynosa, Mexico  Narciso Martínez (October 29, 1911 in Reynosa – 1992), dubbed early on, El Huracan del Valle ("The Hurricane of the Valley"), began recording in 1936, on October 21 precisely, and is the father of conjunto music. The Spanish word conjunto means 'group' and in El Valle de Tejas that means accordion, bajo sexto, and contrabajo (string bass, known locally also as "el tololoche").
Don Narciso, the first widely successful conjunto recording artist, made hundreds of recordings of mostly instrumental dance tunes emphasizing the melody side of the accordion and leaving the bass parts to his bajo sexto player, Santiago Almeida. This established a new sound, which is quickly identifiable as Texas-Mexican Conjunto Music.
Narciso Martinez is the recipient of the National Heritage Award for his contributions to one of the United States' important ethnic traditions. He recorded for IDEAL Records and Paco Betancourt in San Benito, Texas, as well as large American labels. He died in 1992.

John Haley "Zoot" Sims, Tenor Sax
b. Inglewood, CA, USA. d: Mar. 23, 1985, New York, NY, USA.

~by Scott Yanow
Throughout his career, Zoot Sims was famous for epitomizing the swinging musician, never playing an inappropriate phrase. He always sounded inspired, and although his style did not change much after the early 1950s, Zoot's enthusiasm and creativity never wavered.
Zoot's family was involved in vaudeville, and he played drums and clarinet as a youth. His older brother, Ray Sims, developed into a fine trombonist who sounded like Bill Harris. At age 13, Sims switched permanently to the tenor, and his initial inspiration was Lester Young, although he soon developed his own cool-toned sound. Sims was a professional by the age of 15, landing his first important job with Bobby Sherwood's Orchestra, and he joined Benny Goodman's big band for the first time in 1943; he would be one of BG's favorite tenormen for the next 30 years. He recorded with Joe Bushkin in 1944, and even at that early stage, his style was largely set.
After a period in the Army, Sims was with Goodman from 1946-1947. He gained his initial fame as one of Woody Herman's "Four Brothers" during his time with the Second Herd (1947-1949). Zoot had brief stints with Buddy Rich's short-lived big band, Artie Shaw, Goodman (1950), Chubby Jackson, and Elliot Lawrence. He toured and recorded with Stan Kenton (1953) and Gerry Mulligan (1954-1956). Sims was also a star soloist with Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band of the early '60s and visited the Soviet Union with Benny Goodman in 1962. A freelancer throughout most of his career, Sims often led his own combos or co-led bands with his friend Al Cohn; the two tenors had very similar sounds and styles. Zoot started doubling on soprano quite effectively in the '70s. Through the years, he appeared in countless situations, and always seemed to come out ahead. Fortunately, Zoot Sims recorded frequently, leading sessions for Prestige, Metronome, Vogue, Dawn, Storyville, Argo, ABC-Paramount, Riverside, United Artists, Pacific Jazz, Bethlehem, Colpix, Impulse, Groove Merchant, Famous Door, Choice, Sonet, and a wonderful series for Pablo.
Zoot Sims: 'Brother' of Swing : NPR

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

Bandleader/clarinetist Woody Herman
died in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Age: 74. 

PBS - JAZZ A Film By Ken Burns: Selected Artist Biography - Woody ...
Joe Comfort, bassist
died in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Age: 71.
Played with Lionel Hampton and with Nat "King" Cole. 

Joe Comfort: Information from

Percy Randolph, harmonica
died in New Orleans, LA, USA.
Age: 77.

Often appeared with guitarist "Snooks" Eaglin

Fred Maddox (right)12 by kevinhall3563.
Fred Maddox is standing on the right.
Fred Maddox, C&W vocals/bass
died. Age: 73.
Member: "Maddox Brothers & Rose"

Louis Acorn, drums
died in Shreveport, LA, USA.

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Joseph Samuels' Jazz Band


Original Capitol Orchestra - “Barney Google” - (Billy Rose / Con Conrad)

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra


Johnny De Droit and his New Orleans Orchestra - “Eccentric”


Waring's Pennsylvanians - “The Little White House (At The End Of Honeymoon Lane)” Vocal refrain by Tom Waring


Six Jolly Jesters - "Goin' Nuts"

Boyd Senter and his Senterpedes


(Rose / De Beck / Con Conrad)
Billy Jones & Ernest Hare, Thomas & West

Who's the most important man this country ever knew?
Do you know what politician I have reference to?
Well, it isn't Mr. Bryan, and it isn't Mr. Hughes.
I've got a hunch that to that bunch I'm going to introduce:
(Again you're wrong and to this throng I'm going to Introduce:)
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.
Barney Google bet his horse would win the prize.
When the horses ran that day, Spark Plug ran the other way.
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.

Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.
Barney Google had a wife three times his size
She stood Barney for divorce
Now he's living with his horse

Who's the greatest lover that this country ever knew?
And who's the man that Valentino takes his hat off to?
No, it isn't Douglas Fairbanks that the ladies rave about.
When he arrives, who makes the wives chase all their husbands
Why, it's Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.
Barney Google is the guy who never buys.
Women take him out to dine, then he steals the waiter's dime.
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.

Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.
Barney Google is the luckiest of guys.
If he fell in to the mud, he'd come up with a diamond stud.
Barney Google with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.

Who's the greatest fire chief this country ever saw?
Who's the man who loves to hear the blazing buildings roar?
Anytime the house is burning, and the flames leap all about,
Say, tell me do, who goes, "kerchoo!" and puts the fire out?
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.
Barney Google, thought his horse could win the prize.
He got odds of ten to eight; Spark Plug came in three days late.
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.

Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.
Barney Google tried to enter paradise.
When Saint Peter saw his face, he said, "Go to the other place".
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.

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Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow
and all those who have provided content,

images and sound files for this site.

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