American Original: A Life of Will Rogers

By Ray Robinson | Go to book overview

10

Mr. Ziegfeld

Florenz Ziegfeld's initial hostility to Will might have been expected. Aside from the showman's failure to appreciate Will's originality, the two men were extreme opposites in almost every respect—they had so little in common that one didn't expect to find them under the same theatre roof. "Half of the great comedians that I've had in my show and to whom I paid a lot of money were not only unfunny to me, but I couldn't understand how they could be funny to anybody else," said Ziegfeld. "They may have made my patrons shriek, but they made me cringe." Will was of course included in that assessment.

It wasn't a matter of personal dislike, for, with the passage of years, Ziegfeld often volunteered that Will's qualities of character and integrity were exceptional ones. It was simply that one man was a dedicated capitalist with an uncanny instinct for knowing what people would pay to see on a stage, while the other man was a performer, an artist, with none of Ziegfeld's penchant for shocking people—and none of Ziegfeld's coarseness.

Ziegfeld came to be called "The Great Glorifier" (nobody knows who originated the name), who structured an endless line of nubile clotheshorses.

-115-

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American Original: A Life of Will Rogers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • American Original - A Life of Will Ragers *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • American Original *
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Indian "Problem" 7
  • 2 - Civil War 14
  • 3 - Childhood 21
  • 4 - Roamin' Free 33
  • 5 - A New Century 47
  • 6 - Home Again—for a Minute 62
  • 7 - Vaudeville Days 74
  • 8 - Will Marries Betty 87
  • 9 - Best Pal 104
  • 10 - Mr. Ziegfeld 115
  • 11 - The Celluloid Coast 128
  • 12 - Kidding the Famous 143
  • 13 - Travelin' Man 161
  • 14 - The Ranch 189
  • 15 - "I Was Never Sorry Movies Started to Talk" 202
  • 16 - Political Adventures 229
  • 17 - The Last Flight 243
  • Appendix A - Postmortems 261
  • Appendix B - More Wit and Wisdom 265
  • Index 271
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