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Sophie Tucker

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Summary Information
Administrative Information
Collection Inventory
Series I: Biography & Correspondence
Photo Series

Summary Information

Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford
Sophie Tucker
Date [inclusive]
3.0 Cubic feet
Hartford Jews 1658-1970 TUCKER, SOPHIE ABUZA World renowned entertainer. Born in Russia in 1889, daughter of Charles Poltiel and Jennie Lenz Abuza, she was brought to Boston as an infant. Eight years later, her family moved to Hartford and she began her career singing in her father's kosher restaurant on Front St. In the early 1900's she sang in cafes for her meals, did black face, went into burlesque, and then became a star entertainer. She shared billings with Will Rogers, W. C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, A1 Jolson, Jack Benny, Fannie Brice, Judy Garland, Jimmie Durante, and others. She knew Irving Berlin when he was a singing waiter and she taught the Duke of Windsor to dance the Charleston when he was the Prince of Wales. She entertained in London, Paris, and other European cities. In 1945, she wrote an autobiography titled, Some o f These Days, after her theme song, the profits of which were donated to charity. She was known for her generosity and is said to have contributed over two million dollars to various causes. Among her major beneficiaries were the Sophie Tucker Playground at Camp Williams for underprivileged children, the Sophie Tucker Chair for Theater Arts at Brandeis University, and the Sophie Tucker Free Maternity Clinic at the General Rose Memorial Hospital, Denver, Colo. In Israel she established the two Sophie Tucker Youth Centers, one located at Kibbutz Beeri and the other at Beit Shemesh. In addition to the youth centers, there is also the Sophie Tucker Forest at Beit Shemesh and her last project, just completed before her death, the Sophie Tucker Classrooms, a wing of the New High School in Dimona. Her appearance in Hartford in 1955 on behalf of the Hebrew Old People's Home, of which her mother was one of the organizers, yielded approximately a million dollars for that institution. The stage in the Emanuel Synagogue auditorium bears her name. She gave many performances for charitable causes. In her professional career, she performed in every type of entertainment from burlesque to theater in the round in which she appeared during the last year of her life. She performed in movies, radio, on the musical comedy stage, and on television, where she was a frequent guest on the Ed Sullivan Show. Her greatest successes were, of course, in vaudeville and night clubs. Her career extended over a 60 year period, and she was called the "Last of the Red Hot Mamas" and the "First Lady of Show Business." As late as 1962, she toured around the world performing in such distant countries as Australia and South Africa. She was a perennial favorite in London, where she was the only American performer to appear in command perform¬ances before three generations of English Royalty. Aside from her theme song, "Some of These Days," another song closely identified with her was "My Yiddishe Mama." No matter where Sophie Tucker was performing, in Europe or any other part of the world, she would come to Hartford annually before the High Holidays and, with her brother, Moe, and her sister, Anna, visit the graves of their parents and their brother, Phillip. Died Feb. 11, 1966. Survivors: son, Bert; brother, Moses Abuza (Brooklyn, N.Y.). She was married three times: her first husband was Louis Tucker from whom she acquired her stage name; her second husband was Frank Westphal, the pianist for her vaudeville act; her third husband was A1 Lackey, her business manager. On Nov. 24, 1968, the Sophie Tucker Community House of Mt. Sinai Temple, Brooklyn, N.Y., was dedicated. From the Hartford Courant editorial, Feb. 11, 1966. . . . Many another who went on to fame and fortune from Hartford never turned back for a second look at the old home town. Sophie remembered .... Hartford institutions were recipients of her many charitable deeds and dollars. Miss Tucker was more than a Red Hot Mama; she had a mama's love for people, and her memorial to her bard working parents was always to remember other people in need. Even in her own time, Sophie Tucker was unique as an artist and distinctive as a person. Biographical excerpt from Rabbi Morris Silverman's, "Hartford Jews 1659-1970", published by the Connecticut Historical Society.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents note Original correspondence including telegrams and handwritten letters.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information
Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford

333 Bloomfield Avenue
West Hartford, CT, 06117

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Collection Inventory

Series I: Biography & Correspondence
Biographical information
Biography, Some of These Days, excerpts
Documents/certificate of Graduation, Public Schools of Hartford, 1902
Emanuel Synagogue/Program, 1960
Exhibits/2007/Hartford Remembers Sophie Tucker
Exhibits/2007/Hartford Remembers Sophie Tucker/cd of photos from exhibit
Family/lists of relatives, 2007
Feldman, Rabbi Abraham/Book talk on Some of These Days
Golden Jubilee, 1953
Hebrew Home/Correspondence/originals
Hebrew Home/Programs
JHSGH/Photograph use
JHSGH/Programs, 1996-1997
JHSGH/Programs/Exhibit Opening, June 3, 2007/CDs
JHSGH/Programs/"Sophie Tucker: Red Hot Mama", 1997
JHSGH/Programs/Yiddish Theater, 1979
Magazine articles, since 1966
Miscellaneous articles
Newspaper clipping/State Library
Newspaper clippings, after 1966
Newspaper clippings, after 1966
Newspaper clippings, before 1966
Newspaper clippings/originals, before 1966
Newspaper clippings/photocopies, before 1966
Oral History/Kantrowitz, Gussie, 1968
Professional Public Relations/ before 1966

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3 boxes -- mounted photos and other images from 2007 exhibit

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Photo Series
CD/Images made by Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame from JHSGH originals and Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Induction, 2004
CD/Scans of photos reproduced for Jewish Women’s archives, 2007
Entertainer years, 1920s-1930s
Entertainer years/close ups, 1940s on
Entertainer years/Full length portraits, 1940s on
Entertainer Years/Sophie as president of the American Federation of Actors
Entertainer Years/Sophie in black face as minstrel coon shouter
Entertainer Years/visit to Hartford, at Rail Road station
Exhibit/Hartford Remembers the Last Red Hot Mama/Invitations, 2007
Exhibit/Hartford Remembers the Last Red Hot Mama/Newspaper clippings, 2007
Exhibits/2007/Hartford Remembers Sophie Tucker/DVD of photos from exhibit, see JHSGH/Exhibits/2007
Family/Bert Tucker and members of Tucker family on porch
Family/Luty familiy
Family/mother Jennie Abuza with founders of Hebrew Home, c. 1900 see also Hebrew Home Collection
Family/Sophie with parents, siblings, and children on front porch of 158
Family/with Abuzas and Kantrowitz children on porch
Guest at wedding of Robert and Louise Fechtor, photocopy, 1950 missing 6/2007
Hartford Federation/Hebrew Home fundraisers/Harold Rome and Max Lewis
Hartford Federation/Hebrew Home fundraisers/with Edward Suisman, Barney Rapaport and Solomon Elsner
Hartford Federation/Hebrew Home fundraisers/with Louis K. Roth, 1960
Hartford Federation/Hebrew Home fundraisers/with Rabbi Morris Silverman, 1960
Hebrew Home fundraisers/with family members
Newspaper clippings/reproductions
Newspaper clippings/with Alan Schwartz
Record cover photo
Scans of photos reproduced for Jewish Women’s Archives
Sophie's Red Hot Remedy
Tombstone, Emanuel Cemetery

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