Ziegfeld Follies is the title of an annual review on New York's Broadway that took place from 1907 to 1957 (annually until 1931) and had a formative influence on the show scene there between 1910 and 1930.
The Ziegfeld Follies were named after their producer Florence Ziegfeld Jr. and were modeled on the Parisian Folies Bergère (see Music Hall ). They had no plot, but a program composed of numbers that changed every year. In the center stood a group of long-legged chorus girls who danced synchronous figures. Because the theater was still the main distribution medium for music at that time, many famous songs originated from such revues (cf. Tin Pan Alley ).
The "Follies" were a larger, less disreputable kind of stage spectacle than American Vaudeville and Burlesque . Florence Ziegfeld, along with his competitor George M. Cohan, was the most influential revue producer on Broadway. There were revues of this kind all over the world, in Germany for example in Berlin with Erik Charell .
Important mostly female stars like Sophie Tucker , Fanny Brice , Dorothy Dickson or Barbara Stanwyck emerged from the Ziegfeld Follies. Entertainers like Eddie Cantor or W. C. Fields found a platform here.
Josephine Baker appeared in a revue in 1936 and failed.
With the increasing influence of the sound film and the more action-oriented “book musicals” on Broadway (see Musical Comedy and Musical Play ), the Ziegfeld Follies lost their importance from the end of the 1920s . The Shubert Organization struggled to maintain it for a long time, but in the age of television this kind of stage entertainment was over.
A whole series of film musicals - The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Ziegfeld Follies (1946) - and stage musicals - Funny Girl (1964), Follies (1971) - deal with the history and aesthetics of the Ziegfeld Follies.