Banjo Eyes: Eddie Cantor and the Birth of Modern Stardom

By Herbert G. Goldman | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

OF EQUITY AND SHUBERTS
"Money makes the world go around."

World War I, the first "modern" war, gave birth to new hopes, new ideals, and a feeling that the postwar world had somehow to be "different," with new values that would give credence to the description of the conflict as "the war to end all wars." ( Warren G. Harding "Return to Normalcy" was the other side of this coin.) The country began to look more favorably on unions, and Actors' Equity Association, formed in 1913, attracted many members as the war drew to a close.

On Thursday, August 7, 1919, Actors' Equity, claiming the Producing Managers' Association had stalled, if not reneged, on a promise to negotiate, called a strike of Broadway shows produced by members of the P.M.A. Frank Bacon, father of motion picture director Lloyd Bacon, immortalized himself as the first star to strike on Equity's behalf, and Lightnin'became the first play closed by A.E.A. As a member of Equity's Council, and as a leading player in the Ziegfeld Follies, Cantor was thrust center stage.

Some expected Cantor to walk out of the Follies the same night Bacon took his stand. The Follies, though, played that night according to the program -- with Cantor. It was "explained" that Cantor was not reached in time. In fact, he had thought better of such drastic action. He admired Ziegfeld, was at the beginning of a promising career, and had a wife and three small daughters to support. Forced to balance forthrightness with prudence, Cantor determined not to strike the Follies until he had spoken with Ziegfeld.

Cantor spent the next afternoon out on Broadway, recruiting new members for Equity, declaring that the Follies would not open that evening, and mentioning Bert Williams, Eddie Dowling, and Johnny and Rae Dooley as fellow strikers in the show.

-75-

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Banjo Eyes: Eddie Cantor and the Birth of Modern Stardom
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Prologue - More Than Meets the Eyes xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Bubba and Her Itchik 3
  • Chapter 2 - The Turning 20
  • Chapter 3 - The Climb 36
  • Chapter 4 - The Follies 57
  • Chapter 5 - Of Equity and Shuberts 75
  • Chapter 6 - Kid Boots 94
  • Chapter 7 - Whoopee 116
  • Chapter 8 - Eyes on the Medium 135
  • Chapter 9 - The Peak 158
  • Chapter 10 - "Before L' Ma Performer. . ." 183
  • Chapter 11 - "We'Re Having a Baby" 212
  • Chapter 12 - The Other Madonna 229
  • Chapter 13 - Colgate Comedy Hour 256
  • Chapter 14 - "... and You Have to Give It All Back " 282
  • Epiloeue - "0ld Perf0rmers Never Die . . ." 308
  • Notes 313
  • Bibliography - Books by Eddie Cantor (chronologically Arranged) 316
  • Stageography 317
  • Filmography 356
  • Radiography 370
  • Televisionograpghy 377
  • Discography 381
  • Index 395
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