Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"Z" as in ZIEGFELD

Are we really up to "Z" already???  Welcome once again to Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."  I have chosen to write about the ZIEGFELD Follies this week.

The ZIEGFELD Follies and The ZIEGFELD Frolic were the brain child of Florenz (Flo) ZIEGFELD, Jr. and ran for the most part from 1907 until 1927 in New York City.  ZIEGFELD has often been called Broadway's greatest showman.  In addition to the long running ZIEGFELD Follies revue he also produced the musical Show Boat.  His shows featured beautiful women, elaborate costumes, and amazing sets.

His "ZIEGFELD girls" were regarded as the standard of beauty for their day.  ZIEGFELD called himself the "glorifier of the American girl."  My great aunt was one of his girls.  Her name was Margaret Morris and family legend says she was discovered by ZIEGFELD dancing on a New York city street corner.  I'm not so sure about that story, but somehow she was discovered.

This is a photograph of her taken by the famous ZIEGFELD photographer Alfred Chaney Johnston.  I know he took a lot of nude photographs of other ZIEGFELD girls, but I've never seen one of Margaret.  (She was a good Catholic girl.)
I'm the unofficial family historian and have her old photo album and some other memorabilia.  Unfortunately, a lot of the photos in the album were unidentified.  I did meet someone online some years back that helped with some of the identification.

There were a couple of movies made about ZIEGFELD and his Follies, but they were made a long time ago.  I would love to see a movie made today about the Follies.  I can picture Tom Hanks in the role of Florenz ZIEGFELD.  After watching this season of Dancing With The Stars I've decided Rumor Willis should play my aunt.  I can picture in my mind the elaborate costumes and sets.  The musical numbers, the dancing, etc., would be so entertaining along with some of their interesting background stories. Come on Hollywood...get busy!

Look at some of these costumes my aunt wore.  This one was when they did some kind of balloon dance.  I believe I heard one time that the gentlemen could pop the balloons on their costumes.
Here she is wearing another rather unusual costume.
 I believe I found this online at the New York City Library site.  Maybe this was a proof sheet?  You can see the above photograph on this sheet.  They are standing on an elevated glass walkway that was part of the set.  This is from the Midnight Frolic.  Margaret appeared in the ZIEGFELD Frolic and the  Follies.  (You can click on it to enlarge.) 

 This is from the 1915 Midnight Frolic.  L-R: Olive Thomas, Muriel Hudson, and Margaret Morris
I've always liked this one.  Margaret is the second one from the left.  I found this in her photo album and either Margaret or someone else wrote the names on the back.  As you can see it's from the 1920 Midnight Frolic.
Margaret also posed for this ad during her career.
She appeared in at least one silent movie, The Gypsys.  This was also found among her things.
This must have been taken on one of her trips to Europe.  I've seen this photo being sold on eBay.
Eventually, it all came to an end for Margaret and the Follies/Frolic.  She worked for many years as a wardrobe mistress on Broadway.  At times she was on welfare.  I have a few childhood memories of her, but the Morris family wasn't close and I only saw her once in a while.  I remember her kind smile and I knew that she was always happy to see us.   Margaret was my grandfather's sister.

I think this picture was probably taken in the 1940's.  Margaret was a member of the ZIEGFELD Club in her later years.  I believe this is a picture of Margaret with her fellow ZIEGFELD Club members.  Margaret is in the center of the first row with her arm around the older lady.
While browsing the Internet I discovered that a revised version of the Midnight Frolic is playing this Spring in New York City.  The Yelp reviews sound good.  If only I lived closer!

Now get busy Hollywood.  I'd like to see a movie and I'm not getting any younger.

Please head over to Jenny's blog for a list of this week's participants.  Thanks for visiting.


  1. What an interesting story about Margaret. Really enjoyed reading this.


  2. Oh Betty, I am almost jealous. I learned today as I had always heard of the Ziegfeld Follies but didn't know anything about them. For sure I didn't know he was into nudes.
    It is nice that you know so much about your great aunt. She was pretty too. In fact, she looked a lot like my mom in her, as Dad called it, 'flapper dress.' We have pictures.
    Mom did date Hoot Gibson, the cowboy actor, some. Also she dated one of the Riders of the Purple Sage. But she didn't dance or act.
    I think Dancing with the Stars is rigged to some extent. But I watch it when I can anyway.

  3. Very interesting story, I have never heard of her !

  4. Betty what fun that would be, we'd like to see the movie too! Must be great as the unofficial family historian to have Margaret's interesting life to research :)
    Wren x

  5. Great interesting Letter Z post.

  6. Fascinating post for Z and neat vintage photos ~

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  7. You should write a book about her!

  8. Hi, Betty, thanks for dropping by my blog the other day. I missed your link at last week's Alphabe Thursday completely. And that would've been a bummer. I like your post about your aunt. Amazing photos. Her story would make a wonderful book to read and see in a movie. I can see Tom Hanks in the role of Ziegfeld, too.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder


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