Banjo eyes : Eddie Cantor and the birth of modern stardom


Goldman, Herbert G.

Entertainers -- United States -- Biography. Cantor, Eddie, 1892-1964. Cantor, Eddie.


xiii, 416 p.

Oxford University Press

Publisher location:
New York

Accession number:

Box 79

ill. ; 25 cm. Contributor biographical information Discography: p. 381-394./ Filmography: p. 356-369./ Includes bibliographical references (p. 316) and index. Herbert G. Goldman. Book

URLS: Materials specified: Publisher description


Call number:
LC: PN2287.C26; Dewey: 792.092; 791/.092; B

ISBN: 0195074025 (alk. paper); 9780195074024 (alk. paper) LCCN: 97-8254

Work type:
Biography (bio)

Research notes:
Marginalia; numbers, words, lines Folded pages Dust jacket flap at p. 4

Banjo Eyes returns the spotlight to the small, unlikely figure who reigned as the clown prince of American musical theater during a glorious era when New York was the center of the world, and Broadway was the center of New York. Written by acclaimed biographer Herbert G. Goldman, it vividly recreates Cantor's extraordinary journey. Here are the overcrowded tenements and sidewalk scuffles of New York's teeming Lower East Side, where Cantor was born Israel Iskowitz, the only child of penniless Jewish immigrants, in 1892. Here is the dreaded "hook," the catcalls, and the spontaneous ovations of the old burlesque houses in which the teenaged Eddie first made his mark. And here, in riveting detail, is the Broadway of Florenz Ziegfeld and the Shubert brothers, brimming with backstage romances, double dealings, fierce camaraderie, and even fiercer rivalries. We follow Cantor west to Hollywood, where he became the first Broadway musical star to sustain a successful film career, then return east for the golden age of radio and the early days of television. It was in radio, Goldman argues, that Cantor achieved lasting influence. Before Eddie, a "star" was merely an actor in the top rung of what was widely regarded as a rather curious profession. Through his repeated on-air references to his wife, Ida, and their five daughters, Cantor made himself a "member of the family" to millions of Americans in a way that no performer had been or had ever sought to be. And through his deep involvement with political and social causes, especially those involving FDR and his own philanthropies, he emerged as a public figure only slightly less revered than Roosevelt himself. Goldman shows that while the notion of the entertainer as role model and the blurring of the line between an actor's public and private life may be staples of today's celebrity culture, it was Eddie Cantor who first made them so, redefining what it meant to be a star in the process.