He flourished on Broadway, the movies and later radio, and television. But was he a star?
Tough question since Eddie Cantor was in his time a man for all show biz trades but seemingly master of none. He was a purely functional singer, performing what were called “illustrated songs” some of which he wrote himself.
He is certainly not remembered for his acting skills, although he managed to roll up some 26 credits over his long career (nearly 40 years). Cantor is perhaps best remembered as an early Forties and Fifties radio and tv personality.
Frank personally knows this because to this day he recalls being taken by his mother to a 1940’s Cantor radio broadcast at the NBC studios at New York’s Rockefeller Center (radio shows sometimes played to live audiences back then). Frank emerged puzzled by what he saw, wondering if all the shouting about Cantor was entirely justified. He still feels that way.
Yet, in the Twenties, Thirties and Forties Cantor successfully presented himself as a singer, songwriter, comedian and actor, the star of vaudeville and the Broadway stage. Yes, he was considered a big star. But was he? You decide.
Now to our Eddie Cantor Quiz. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Eddie Cantor was offered the lead in the seminal film, 1927’s The Jazz Singer, but in a misguided move turned down the offer (the role, of course, went to Al Jolson). a) True; or b) False.
2) Question: In his comedy routines, Cantor often referred to his wife and the couple’s children. What was his wife’s first name and how many daughters did the couple have? a) Stella, 3; b) Ethel, 8; c) Ida, 5 or d) Hermione, 2).
3) Question: Eddie Cantor inspired a big studio Hollywood biopic, in which he did not play himself. Who plays him in the picture? a) Jason Robards; b) Keefe Brasselle; c) Don Rickles; or d) Jack E. Leonard.
4) Question: Cantor is remembered by his recurring character on which one of the following contemporary tv series? a) House of Cards; b) Boardwalk Empire; c) The Walking Dead; or d) Game of Thrones.
5) Question: Which one of the following Broadway shows did Cantor NOT appear in? a) Banjo Eyes; b) Whoopee; c) Make It Snappy; or d) Bombo.