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Sophie Tucker

Declaring "I'm the Last of the Red Hot Mamas" in one of her best-known songs, Sophie Tucker created a brassy, bawdy persona that made her a smashing success on the vaudeville circuit and the musical stage. Tucker was born Sonia Kalish on January 13, 1884, as her Jewish parents were fleeing Russia for Poland and, by the time Sophie was three, the United States; the family took the last name Abuza as a cover during their flight. After a spell in Boston, her parents opened a restaurant in Hartford, Connecticut, where young Sophie met many a vaudeville entertainer and picked up spare change singing for them and other customers. Sophie married a man named Louis Tuck at age 16 and had a son, Albert, a year later, at which point Tuck left her. Changing her married name to Tucker to produce her stage name, Sophie moved to New York to pursue a singing career, initially performing at small cafés and beer halls. Tucker eventually got an agent, who helped her break into vaudeville in 1906. At the behest of her handlers, she usually worked in blackface early in her career, under the logic that since she was rather generously built and plain of face, her audiences might not otherwise take to her.

In 1909, Tucker landed a job with the Ziegfeld Follies; she was a headlining act by 1911, and when she finally dropped the blackface act in favor of gaudy costumes and began adding traditional Yiddish songs to her repertoire of risqué comic songs, sentimental ballads, and ragtime numbers, she allayed all unfounded fears about her appearance and became more popular than ever. 1911 also saw the first recording of one of Tucker's signature songs, "Some of These Days." During World War I, Tucker adopted jazz stylings and toured with a small group called the Five Kings of Syncopation; she also played from 1914-1917 with second husband Frank Westphal, a pianist, but their marriage dissolved over his jealousy of her popularity.

In 1919, Tucker landed her first Broadway role in Shubert Gaieties; two years later, she hired as musical director pianist Ted Shapiro, who would accompany her for the next 40 years, writing a great deal of her bawdier material as well. She made her first of many trips to London in 1922, starring in the revue Round in 50. Tucker scored hits in the 1920s with songs like a re-recording of "Some of These Days," "I'm the Last of the Red Hot Mamas," and "My Yiddishe Momme," the latter two co-written by Jack Yellen, a regular contributor whom Tucker paid a regular salary plus commissions. As motion pictures began to rob vaudeville of its audience, Tucker tried to make the leap herself; she made her film debut in Honky Tonk in 1929, but the next year went to London to star in the musical comedy Follow a Star. For the next few years, she alternated London stage appearances with occasional films like Gay Love (1936), Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), and Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (1937). Tucker also appeared in several more Broadway shows, including Leave It to Me (1938), Gay Paree, and High Kickers (1941).

Tucker's fame gradually diminished over the years; aside from occasional motion picture and television appearances, she spent most of her time performing in nightclubs, preferring the more intimate atmosphere and audience interaction. Her repertoire in later years often included half-spoken philosophical songs, which helped hide her vocal decline somewhat. Tucker devoted much of her income to various charities and frequently performed at benefit concerts. Sophie Tucker died on February 9, 1966, three years after becoming the subject of the biographical musical Sophie. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Sophisticated Lady

1. Why Go To Havana

2. There's Something Spanish In My Eyes

3. That's What I Call Sweet Music

4. Stay Out Of The South

5. Sophisticated Lady

6. You Can't Sew A Button On A Heart

7. If Your Kisses Can't Hold The Man You Love

8. No One Woman Can Satisfy Any One Man All The Time

9. No One Man Is Ever Going To Worry Me

10. Nobody Knows What A Red-Headed Mamma Can Do

11. The Lady Is A Tramp

12. Some Of These Days

13. Hollywood Will Never Be The Same

14. My Conversational Man

15. After You've Gone

16. Makin' Wicky Wacky Down In Waikiki

17. The Man I Love

18. I'm Feathering A Nest

19. You've Got To Be Loved To Be Healthy

20. Louisville Lou

21. The Older They Get, The Younger They Want 'Em

22. It's A Pleasure!

23. I Never Can Think Of The Words

24. I Don't Want To Get Thin

25. He's Tall, Dark And Handsome

x

Track List: Bigger And Better Than Ever

1. Take A Look At Yourself

2. Be As Big As The World You Live In

3. Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind

4. With Your Life You Can Do What You Will

5. I'm Bigger And Better Than Ever

6. Love Is My One Bad Habit

7. The Fourtain Of Youth

8. I'm As Modern As Tomorrow And As Old As Yesterday

9. Sophie's Matrimonial Mart

x

Track List: The Spice Of Life

1. Living Alone

2. I'm Having More Fun Since I'm Sixty

3. No One Man Is Ever Going To Worry Me

4. There's A Lot Of Little Boy

5. Mr. Fink

6. No One Women Can Satisfy Any One Man All The Time

7. How Am I Ever Going To Grow Old?

8. You Can't Deep Freeze A Red Hot Mama

9. I'm Starting All Over Again

x

Track List: Cabaret Days

1. Cabaret Days

2. I Wanna Say Hello

3. After You've Gone

4. Margie

5. I'm Living Aone And I Like It

6. Put Your Arms Around Me Honey

7. Nobody Loves A Fat Girl

8. I'm Sorry I Made You Cry

9. Hello Ma Baby

10. Waiting For The Robert E. Lee

11. Some Of These Days

x

Track List: Sophie Tucker for President

1. I'm Living Alone and I Like It

2. In the Good Old Summertime

3. Middle Age Mambo

4. Sophie Tucker for President

5. Sophie Tucker's School for Red Hot Mama's

6. Vitamins Hormones and Pills

7. What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes At Me For

x

Track List: My Dream

1. Make Him Say Please

2. I'm Living Alone And I Like It

3. Horse Playing Papa

4. Never Let The Same Dog Bite Twice

5. Mr Siegel

6. Sophie Tucker's Half Century In Show Business

x

Track List: Essential Collection

x

Track List: The Last Of The Red Hot Mamas

1. Some Of These Days

2. Aggravatin' Papa, Don't You Try To Two-Time Me

3. You've Got To See Mama Ev'ry Night

4. Red Hot Mama

6. After You've Gone

7. I Ain't Got Nobody

8. One Sweet Letter From You

9. Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong

10. Blue River

11. There'll Be Some Changes Made

12. The Man I Love

13. My Pet

14. 'cause I Feel Low Down

15. Oh! You Have No Idea

16. My Yiddishe Momme

18. I'm The Last Of The Red Hot Mamas

19. I Don't Want To Get Thin

20. Moanin' Low

21. That Man Of My Dreams

22. Makin' Wicky Wacky Down In Waikiki

23. When A Lady Meets A Gentleman Down South

24. (If You Can't Sing It) You'll Have To Swing It

25. The Lady Is A Tramp

26. Life Begins At Forty

x

Track List: The Golden Jubilee Album

1. Hi-Ya, Soph!

2. With George Jessel

4. With Eddie Cantor

5. Some Of These Days

9. My Fifty Golden Years

10. It's Never Too Late (To Have A Little Fun)

11. Vitamins, Hormones And Pills

12. Inhibition Papa

13. There's No Business Like That Certain Business

14. Sophie Tucker School For Red Hot Mamas

15. My Dream

16. In The Good Old Summertime

17. The Grizzly Bear

18. Waiting For The Robert E. Lee

20. Darktown Strutters Ball

21. My Yiddishe Momme

22. If He's Good Enough To Fight

23. Some Of These Days

24. I'm Living Alone And I Like It

25. Never Let The Same Dog Bite You Twice

26. Life Upon The Wicked Stage

27. Bill

28. Sophie Tucker For President

29. Max From The Income Tax

30. Down South

31. The Middle Age Mambo

x

Track List: The Last Of The Red Hot Mommas

1. I Know That My Baby Is Cheatin' On Me

2. There's A Blue Ridge Round My Heart Virginia

3. No One Man Is Ever Going To Worry Me

4. He's Tall, Dark And Handsome

5. (If You Can't Sing It) You'll Have To Swing It

6. My Conversational Man

8. Stay Out Of The South

10. Is He My Boy Friend?

11. When A Lady Meets A Gentleman Down South

Comments

Report as inappropriate
My mother sang with Sophie Tucker. She told some great stories.....
Report as inappropriate
Sophie Tucker was one of a kind. I remember her on TV with the likes of Jimmy Durante. Both are on my must listen to list and have lots of CD's with songs recorded by both of them, as we;; as Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor and many others of the 20's, 30's and 40's. the likes ofr which will never be heard again.
Report as inappropriate
what the kids of today are missing is truly the shame of our lifetime age 68
Report as inappropriate
Sophie Tucker and Kate Smith are of the old vaudevillian vein which lamentably is no longer a part of current popular music.
Report as inappropriate
magair1
The age-old tale of the fortunate-vs - n o t - s o - f o r t u n a t e looking: If beautiful or handsome to gaze upon, regardless of personal character or even talents, the world wants you, wants to see you. If not so fashionably charming to gaze upon, however, it seems your worthiness is up for debate. Thank God for the Janis Joplins' of the world, who had a face that was deemed not-so-lovel y by the society in which she lived, was able to stun so many with her voice and musical talents. I would venture to say t
Report as inappropriate
I met her in person as a little boy,she sang in Houston in the fifties. she raised millions for indigent heart patients.A Grreat woman
Report as inappropriate
guttmanb
hot old lady

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