Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #77

Florenz Ziegfeld (1867 – 1932)

77 Florenz Ziegfeld

Few cultural activities are as intrinsically New York as Broadway theatre. And Broadway never had a more consummate showman than Florenz Ziegfeld, producer of the enormously popular Ziegfeld Follies. Known as the “glorifier of the American girl”, Ziegfeld’s shows were enormous tableaus, filled with pageantry, glamor, and elaborate costume and set pieces. But he also produced the original run of Show Boat, the revolutionary musical that signaled the demise of the older vaudeville-style shows. His primary theatrical home was the stunning Art Nouveau gem, the New Amsterdam Theatre, on 42nd Street. After his death, his colleagues produced a tribute show to him at the Winter Garden Theatre, where Fanny Brice performed. Three decades later, she would be a character on the same stage in the original production of Funny Girl, in which Ziegfeld was also a character. In 1936, Ziegfeld’s life story was adapted to a movie, The Great Ziegfeld, starring William Powell. The film earned double its production cost and won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1936.

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